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Kiss

Rooted in the campy theatrics of Alice Cooper and the sleazy hard rock of glam rockers the New York Dolls, Kiss became a favorite of American teenagers in the '70s. Most kids were infatuated with the look of Kiss, not their music. Decked out in outrageously flamboyant costumes and makeup, the band fashioned a captivating stage show featuring dry ice, smoke bombs, elaborate lighting, blood spitting, and fire breathing that captured the imaginations of thousands of kids. But Kiss' music shouldn't be dismissed -- it was a commercially potent mix of anthemic, fist-pounding hard rock driven by sleek hooks and ballads powered by loud guitars, cloying melodies, and sweeping strings. It was a sound that laid the groundwork for both arena rock and the pop-metal that dominated rock in the late '80s.

Kiss was the brainchild of Gene Simmons (bass, vocals) and Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar, vocals), former members of the New York-based hard rock band Wicked Lester; the duo brought in drummer Peter Criss through his ad in Rolling Stone, while guitarist Ace Frehley responded to an advertisement in The Village Voice. Even at their first Manhattan concert in 1973, the group's approach was theatrical, and Flipside producer Bill Aucoin offered the band a management deal after the show. Two weeks later, the band was signed to Neil Bogart's fledgling record label, Casablanca. Kiss released their self-titled debut in February of 1974; it peaked at number 87 on the U.S. charts. By April of 1975, the group had released three albums and had been touring America constantly, building up a sizable fan base.

Culled from those numerous concerts, Alive! (released in the fall of 1975) made the band rock & roll superstars; it climbed into the Top Ten and its accompanying single, "Rock 'N' Roll All Nite," made it to number 12. Their follow-up, Destroyer, was released in March of 1976 and became the group's first platinum album; it also featured their first Top Ten single, Peter Criss' power ballad "Beth." Kiss mania was in full swing; thousands of pieces of merchandise hit the marketplace (including pinball machines, makeup and masks, and board games), and the group had two comic books released by Marvel as well as a live-action TV movie, Kiss Meet the Phantom of the Park. A 1977 Gallup poll named Kiss the most popular band in America. The group was never seen in public without wearing their makeup, and their popularity was growing by leaps and bounds; the membership of the Kiss Army, the band's fan club, was now in the six figures.

Even such enormous popularity had its limits, and the band reached them in 1978, when all four members released solo albums on the same day in October. Simmons' record was the most successful, reaching number 22 on the charts, yet all of them made it into the Top 50. Dynasty, released in 1979, continued their streak of platinum albums, yet it was their last record with the original lineup -- Criss left in 1980. Kiss Unmasked, released in the summer of 1980, was recorded with session drummer Anton Fig; Criss' true replacement, Eric Carr, joined the band in time for their 1980 world tour. Kiss Unmasked was their first record since Destroyer to fail to go platinum, and 1981's Music from the Elder, their first album recorded with Carr, didn't even go gold -- it couldn't even climb past number 75 on the charts. Ace Frehley left the band after its release; he was replaced by Vinnie Vincent in 1982. Vincent's first album with the group, 1982's Creatures of the Night, fared better than Music from the Elder, yet it couldn't make it past number 45 on the charts.

Sensing it was time for a change, Kiss dispensed with their makeup for 1983's Lick It Up. The publicity worked, as the album became their first platinum record in four years. Animalize, released the following year, was just as successful, and the group essentially recaptured their niche. Vincent left after Animalize and was replaced by Mark St. John, although St. John was soon taken ill with Reiter's Syndrome and left the band. Bruce Kulick became Kiss' new lead guitarist in 1984. For the rest of the decade, Kiss turned out a series of best-selling albums, culminating in the early 1990 hit ballad "Forever," which was their biggest single since "Beth." Kiss was scheduled to record a new album with their old producer, Bob Ezrin, in 1990 when Eric Carr became severely ill with cancer; he died in November of 1991 at the age of 41. Kiss replaced him with Eric Singer and recorded Revenge (1992), their first album since 1989; it was a Top Ten hit and went gold. Kiss followed it with the release of Alive III the following year; it performed respectably, but was not up to the standards of their two previous live records.

In 1996, the original lineup of Kiss -- featuring Simmons, Stanley, Frehley, and Criss -- reunited to perform an international tour, complete with their notorious makeup and special effects. The tour was one of the most successful of 1996, and in 1998 the reunited group issued Psycho Circus. While the ensuing tour in support of Psycho Circus was a success, sales of Kiss' reunion album weren't as stellar as anticipated. Reminiscent of the band's late-'70s unfocused period, few tracks on Psycho Circus featured all four members playing together (most tracks were supplemented with session musicians), as the band seemed more interested in flooding the marketplace with merchandise yet again instead of making the music their top priority. With rumors running rampant that the Psycho Circus Tour would be their last, the quartet announced in the spring of 2000 that they would be launching a U.S. farewell tour in the summer, which became one of the year's top concert draws. But on the eve of a Japanese and Australian tour in early 2001, Peter Criss suddenly left the band once again, supposedly discontent with his salary. Taking his place was previous Kiss drummer Eric Singer, who in a controversial move among some longtime fans, donned Criss' cat-man makeup (since Simmons and Stanley own both Frehley and Criss' makeup designs, there was no threat of a lawsuit) as the farewell tour continued.

With the band scheduled to call it a day supposedly by late 2001, a mammoth career-encompassing box set was set for later in the year, while the summer saw perhaps the most over-the-top piece of Kiss merchandise yet -- the "Kiss Kasket." The group was relatively quiet through the rest of the year, but 2002 started with a bang as Gene Simmons turned in an entertaining and controversial interview on NPR where he criticized the organization and berated host Terry Gross with sexual comments and condescending answers. He was promoting his autobiography at the time, which also caused dissent in the Kiss camp because of inflammatory remarks made toward Ace Frehley. Frehley subsequently declined to appear at an American Bandstand anniversary show; his place was taken by a wig-wearing Tommy Thayer, and Simmons was quick to dismiss the performance as another in a long series of money-oriented decisions. The band kept touring the globe with no new album in stores, but in 2008 they returned to the studio, re-recorded their hits, and released Jigoku-Retsuden aka KISSology or Kiss Klassics (the release was initially exclusive to Japan).

In spring of 2009, the band began recording their first studio album in 11 years, and released the results in October with the title Sonic Boom. Produced by Paul Stanley and Greg Collins, the album was exclusively distributed in North America by Wal-Mart. In 2012, the band's twentieth studio album, Monster, surfaced, rewriting the cowbell-heavy party rock of their '70s heyday and adding some nods to the sinister metal of 1992's Revenge. In 2014, after 15 years of eligibility, Kiss was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & Greg Prato, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Alive! 1975-2000 (Alive II)

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
x

Track List: Hell Or Hallelujah (Single)

Comments

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Best concert ever and I saw a lot of bands
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Simmons solo album most successful!? Wrong! That would be Ace!
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You've got to lose your mind in Detroit rock city!!!
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burnside93
Awesome sauce!!!!!
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Okay April I'm listening to Mr. speed by kiss. You like to call me Mr. speed probably because I can down a hamburger faster than fat Albert
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wonder why double platinum has the german cover
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Kiss is awesome l o ve the band I like theirs music not just the awesome 80s 7 0s glam twisted Sister look. Lol love it
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I'm glad the drummer of twisted sister died
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Kiss is a Awesome group!! War Machine and Love Gun are my faves ..everyone loves there music...not just their looks..
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Personally, my friends and I became a KISS fans based on their music. Never even seen them in concert until the 90S. Pandora needs to change that notion that most kids were infatuated with their look.
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Just finished reading Paul Stanley's autobiograph y . All die-hard KISS fans should read it, gives you an inside look into the real band. KISS ROCKS!!!!
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Listening to"God of thunder" no doubt the most balls out rock out kiss song ever written!!!
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I love loud nes I was made for lovin you baby
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burnside93
Shout it out loud
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burnside93
Detroit rock city
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Listening to"Larger than life" by Kiss. I dedicate this to my ex-girlfrien d Chloe Kardashian.. .
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even though they are around 40 years old they still rock.
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Glad you like my music
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I hear my song and it pulls me through!
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Listening to hard luck woman by kiss Pretty much my life story.
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Oh no tears are falling. Somebody get a mop!
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Listening to love gun by kiss . One of my top three kiss all time favorite songs rock on everybody!!!
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I LOVEEEEEEEEE E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E E KISSSSSSSSSS S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S S
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kabbott76
Still have the original vinyl Love Gun with the cardboard gun that came in the jacket! It's Cold Gin time again!!! '96 reunion was the most energized show I've seen! \m/
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Brett this one's 4 u my friend. .. Detroit ROCK City... Hey Brett remember Going Blind off of Hotter Than Hell album? I even got the movie Kiss meets the Phantom still an the f**kin dolls . lmao Ace is an was my Guitar idol hands down. ROCK ON EVERYONE
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(www.genesis 4 2 1 . c o m )
Check us out
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Listening to hardluck woman by kiss. When this song came out a lot of people thought it was A Rod Stewart song.
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I remember that kiss Army I still have some of their stuff
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Kiss army long time member Die hard soldier
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caedmon.kyle s
Rock out KISS
$)
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Brett Badger, how many times you seen KISS?
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Klassik. Too bad they don't play this live.
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I was born in January '74...I saw the Original KISS lineup on Sept. 15, 2000 here in my hometown Binghamton, NY with Ted Nugent & Skid Row, minus Sebastian Bach (someone else was lead singer and I didn't know it!...)...Be s t $60 I spent on myself and my 1st concert ever!!!
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Luv this song..was born too late to witness the KISS empire first hand. :/
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Well then Brett I'm a f**kin dinosaur even tho u gotta few yrs on me. Lol. I wonder who's kiss #1 fan is, I'm pretty sure it starts with a B----. That's not b**ch btw.lol. Tears are Falling great song. Goin Blind is one of my fav off Hotter Than Hell. When Dress 2 Kill came out an they were all in suits I had it so bad for Kiss I held a f**kin sun lamp up 2 the album cover 2 c if I could c there faces thru there make up. Lol. ROCK ON EVERYONE
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First time I saw Love them leave them was on Don Kershner's rock concert. If you're old enough to know who Don Kershner was your dinosaur like me
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Got Cut off, but I did want to add to my last comment.. The stage show was phenomenal! Full make up and the original "4" not much could complaint to it!! I dedicate these comments to my deceased sister!! Wouldn't have been possible without her..She's gone, but not forgotten..K I S S . WAS, IS, & WILL always remind me of the goo times..For that alone I love them!!
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KISS was the first concert I'd ever seen. I was 10yrs old seen them @ Madison Square garden got stoned sitting there!! The stage show
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Omg Mr. Speed such an awesome f**king song!!! Thank you Paul Stanley!
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Kiss are a bunch of p**sies
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tears rain down as cries make no sound and fires surge inside a hearts burning pride with no exit for hope to be found while lives fall away in decay with chances of salvation growing slimmer each day as bitter souls die in wanton goodbyes cutting deep with lines drawn to make their play for something more than they will say along these jagged walls standing in their way and stabbing words make bleeding sores in memories of life they once gave to cross swords killing those they did save
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Kiss WILL ALWAYS B NO.1 on my list go ahead rock and roll alnite and party every day who gives a f**k!!!!!!!
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Detroit Rock City
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i love kiss they are my ital i love there songs
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No place for hiding baby no place to run you pull the trigger of myyyyyy Love Gun!!!!!!
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My boyfriend's favorite band...
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Oh Em Gee the greatest kiss song ever written I even taught my daughter how to play this on the flute
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Buddy ace Frehley wasn't with him it was with Vinnie Vincent
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These guys are awesome and saw them in concert in the city San Francisco
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Detroit rock city.If you don't love this song you must be a communist!
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