Right Place, Right Time

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Abrams; 379Pages; Now available

This memoir is truly inspiring. A kid from Long Island develops (pun intended) a keen interest in photography at the age of 5. His mother has her own darkroom.

After leaving college over and over decides to pursue his real passion—creating images with his camera.

I think he made the right decision. You learn when reading this story how much of life is just being in the right place at the right time.

Over the past 60 years he has chronicled rock’s most significant artists. Beginning at the 1965 Newport folk festival when Bob Dylan plugged in with an electric guitar for the first time to the birth of disco, punk, and new wave, his best stories are collected here.

You will truly feel as if you are with him during all the late nights, problems with deadlines, and hangovers.

Bob Gruen became close friends with John Lennon and Yoko Ono; Ike and Tina Turner.

He spent a lot of time showing the world the day to day lives of these extraordinary people. He de-glamorizes the biz. You see the tough times these folks lived through to get their art in the hands of listeners across the globe.

At the drop of a hat Bob Gruen flew to London, Germany, France, Japan or wherever needed to lend support.

In the moment he captured many moments that still resonate today.

Led Zep in front of the Enterprise Starship aircraft; John Lennon in his New York city tee-shirt; The Clash on the observation deck at 30 Rock; Ike and Tina Turner doing just about anything.

Alice Cooper and Salvador Dali. Dali created the first ever hologram of Alice.

This book is the perfect gift for the music fan in your life. He photographed Queen before they were famous. KISS in 1978 on the 14th St subway platform which had phone booths!

A magical journey peopled by lots of fascinating figures including:

Elton John, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Tina Turner, Debbie Harry, The Ramones, Alice Cooper, The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Who, Runaways, and on and on.

Bob Gruen reminds his reader of the authenticity of New York city’s great power to help re-invent those who seek a new life.

Filled with black and white photos and full color of many moments that shaped his long-term success you get a deeply affecting impression of what it truly takes to become a fine artist.

One of my favorite early moments was when he took photos of models. A young college student came to the studio. Years later he found out that would be model became movie actress Karen Allen who appeared in “Animal House” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

Today, Bob Gruen photography is a thriving business. The countless hours of painstaking work along with the warp speed social life required to achieve it are worthwhile.

I strongly recommend you get a copy of this account.

I Wanna Rock/ Essay

At the end of the 1960’s there was much turmoil from politics. Music experienced psychedelia, folk, and lots of drugs. What came next was quite a turn…

Young men started bands. Influenced by artists who put out their first records in the 1970’s they continued a style and mantra critics saw as a flash in the pan.

Top: Mott The Hoople
Bottom: The New York Dolls.

Glam. Fancy dress. Machismo. Electric guitars. Rock players who had worn t-shirts and jeans now displayed leather and satin. Studded belts and wristbands accessorized the look.

KISS released their debut in 1973. The band’s name was set in glitter. Paul Stanley saw the New York Dolls dress up in satins. He took this style into a much heavier rock music.

Alice Cooper went solo in 1975 unleashing his version of this heavier rock music on the masses. He became one of the leaders in hard rock wearing satin outfits onstage as well as leather.

Slade from England and T-Rex also led the glam charge. The next wave of music would take this even further to create glam metal.

Top: Slade
Bottom: Marc Bolan

The guys who looked like girls in the 1970s like David Bowie or Marc Bolan would evolve into bands that looked fem but played hard with macho looks.

Motley Crue, Poison, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Hanoi Rocks, and Guns n Roses come to fame during this era.

Big hair, leather, spandex nd make-up are it. Labels sign bands like Twisted Sister, Ratt, Winger, Bullet Boys, Warrant and many others in their wake.

Funny enough that KISS retired their trademark makeup at a time when their progeny put it on.

KISS unmasked. (L) Founding members Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley; (R) Bruce Kulick & Eric Carr transformed the band into a hard rock glam act.

I came of age at this time. My first hard rock record was “Blizzard of Ozz” by Ozzy Osbourne, the former lead vocalist of Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast ” was my first metal record.

While glam metal started up many bands from the previous era developed into heavy metal—Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Both bands to this day are regarded as the top two acts in all of metal.

Scorpions from Germany also became one of the biggest metal acts in the world. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” was fierce; “Winds Of Change” was a ballad that appealed across the globe.

Scorpions in full leather.

During these years, Rob Halford of Judas Priest wore leather outfits head to toe with studded jewelry. Paul DiAnno, the singer on the first two Iron Maiden albums wore leather pants as did the entire group on their early tours.

Every fan wanted to dress like their heroes. The black leather motorcycle jacket became synonymous with the art form. Guys wore band tee shirts too. The truly passionate wore leather pants as well.

Iron Maiden in 1981.

I attended many concerts during this era. The concerts were KISS shows from the 1970’s brought up to date with new effects and sound equipment. Lighting rigs were state of the art.

When you went to the record shop you could easily pick out the hard rock/metal groups because of their image. A band’s logo was another tell tale sign.

Jagged type with dripping letters highlighted in primary colors were a big part of the logo.

Logos become band identity to the glam metal form.

The albums of these groups sold millions upon millions. There were several records released in the Glam era that are all-time best sellers including Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” and Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”.

Debut albums from Skid Row, Cinderella, Motley Crue, and Poison also sold millions.

Glam’s influence would impact other groups too. From Cheap Trick’s “One On One” to Judas Priest’s “Turbo” the sound of glam metal appealed across the spectrum of sounds.

Billy Squire would have his biggest records, “Don’t Say No”, “Emotions In Motion”, and “Signs Of Life” during the glam metal years.

I went to live shows to see Ratt perform their hits like ‘Round and Round’ and ‘You Think You’re Tough’ but also to be a part of the metal community.

Fans showed up to the Meadowlands arena in New Jersey in full leather outfits! Guys had long hair too. It was amazing.

Metal fans in the 1980’s.

The music happened to be great. The bands that got play on MTV had videos that matched their looks. Twisted Sister’s videos are among the most memorable ever produced.

The outfits, the logos, the hair, and the music made it all possible. Two of the components on every record were anthems and ballads.

KISS had anthems like ‘Rock N Roll All Nite’ and ballads like ‘Beth’. Every 80’s glam metal act would follow suit.

Skid Row had ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and ’18 and Life’; Twisted Sister had ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ and ‘The Price’. Quiet Riot would score with cover songs by Slade: ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ and ‘Mama, We’re All Crazee Now’ catapulted them to the top.

Glam metal fans continue to be devoted to their favorites. Today we are drowned by commercial mainstream pop. While not all of it is bad we yearn for heavy guitar chords to return us to former glam glories. There are new listeners today discovering these sounds for the first time.

Having begun to re-listen I have found how much I still love this type of music too. I do not have long hair anymore, but I do love the look and sound of glam.

A couple of bands making great music today are Blind Guardian and Dragonforce. Considered Power Metal I think they use some glam elements in their productions.

Their lyrics are akin to reading a fantasy epic by Tolkien along with guitar instrumentation that updates that glam metal sound from the eighties.

This art form is a form of escapist entertainment that has had its share of adversity.

During the 1980’s there were attempts to censor lyrics which led to labeling records ‘explicit’.

Organized religion especially Catholicism has often been at odds with metal music. What they view as satanic others see as rebellion.

Many metallers are just devil-may-care in their attitude. And sure, some do worship the dark lord, not that there is anything wrong with it.

Ghost are a perfect example of a current group that took all of its former influences from The Doors and Queen to Priest & Maiden producing a fresh blast of glam metal on the dark side. If you love music check them out.

In fact the opposition to all metal music enables it to continue to thrive.

There are now a multitude of radio stations that play it and magazines publish articles everyday updating a listener following that spans the entire world.

Loudwire, Rock N Roll Garage, Metal Voice are a few of the websites that publish every day.

Sirius XM has Ozzy’s Boneyard that plays classic metal.

I think it’s time for glam and metal to make a return. Perhaps 2020 will see it rise again. Tool topped the charts with “Fear Inoculum ” this year. A good sign for metal.

KISS: Hard Rock’s Fab Four

R-L: Gene Simmons; Bass (The Demon), Peter Criss; Drums (The Catman), Ace Frehley (Guitar) (Spaceman), and Paul Stanley; Lead Vocals, Guitar (Starchild).

KISS are on their Final Tour Ever. Dubbed “End Of The Road”, as of this writing the first leg is done in the U.S. Next week they begin the second leg in Europe.

I have written about their storied career here to voice my appreciation as a listener and fan. Not every detail is included since there are books, articles, and tons of fodder on YouTube for people to consume. The cultural impact of the group was massive. Here now my entry about them.

The streets of New York were filthy in the 197o’s. The Beatles had just broken up. Millions of rock music fans were left feeling the loss of an entire era. The 1960s provided a ton of artists that were critical darlings. The Vietnam war was still grinding forward. What would happen next?

From those filthy streets in a declining city four young men were practicing music who enacted their wildest dreams of becoming part of a band. Stanley Eisen from Queens, Chaim Weiss raised in Tel Aviv then Brooklyn, Paul Frehley of The Bronx, and Peter Crisscoula of Brooklyn found each other by ads placed in the papers.

Each of these young people had experience playing music live. They shared a love of The Beatles. The love generation was about to give way to the more agressive love gun generation. The term heavy metal was not yet applicable. Their music was a new sound. Their names would be changed too. Chaim Weiss became Gene Simmons. Stanley Eisen became Paul Stanley. Paul Frehely used his nickname Ace because these guys just knew you could not have two Pauls in the same group. And Peter shortened his name from Crisscoula to Criss.

The gritty early 70’s was a culture of worn down clubs, high crime, and low rents. This culture fostered artists. Gene and Paul had a band called Wicked Lester. They had created a sound that was edgy and raw. Simple chords like the rock n roll of past times with heavier bass and loud electric guitars. Starting over they put ads in the Village Voice. Guitarist with flash and balls; Drummer willing to do anything to make it.

Peter Criss claimed he would wear a dress if necessary. Ace Frehley came in, plugged into an amp and let it rip without asking for anyone’s permission. He famously wore mismatched sneakers and looked, in Gene’s opinion, like a bum. Both of these guys were hired. They rehearsed tirelessly in a loft space infested with vermin.

One of the reasons I love them was their absolute determination to make something special. They were never handed anything. Everything happened because of the blood, sweat, and tears put into the development of their act.

With songs from Gene and Paul’s Wicked Lester days plus new material along with some covers the newly named, Kiss, would record their self-titled debut album in just 13 days with producer Richie Wise. The band’s make-up would put off their record company so much that Warner Bros dislodged Casablanca from the company!

The name was derived from Peter Criss’s former group, Lips. Paul Stanley by way of word association thought Kiss would work. Their songs were mainly about sex. Short and easy to remember too. Ace Frehley drew the logo all in caps; Paul Stanley later refined it with extra lines to highlight each letter. In Germany to this day the logo appears without the lightning bolts. That double s caused a lot of reaction for obvious reasons. I think they took back the infamy of this symbolism. The logo projected the power of their music and their image. Today, the name is known around the globe.

Kiss’ first record sold 75,000 copies in 1974. 10 songs with a running time of 30 minutes without a hit single. During a year that included, The Rolling Stones’ “It’s Only Rock N Roll” and Queen’s “Killer Queen” as well as Eric Clapton’s cover of Bob Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff”, Kiss was a shock to the system. In make-up on the cover in a similar layout to their heroes, The Beatles, this image was received by critics as not a rock group but a circus act.

On the first record, “Deuce” by Gene Simmons opened their shows. The lyrics were quite purile by any standard. Raw rock music. At a point in time when singer/songwriters like Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell were peaking, the culture at large was revolted by Kiss.

“Strutter” by Paul Stanley was about streetwalkers. “Cold Gin” by Ace Frehley was about liquor saving a relationship. These tracks set the stage for concert tours. The next 2 records, “Hotter Than Hell” and “Dressed To Kill” did not set the world on fire either. But the Stanley/Simmons rock anthem, “Rock and Roll All Nite” did break the top ten and placed Kiss in the limelight they had been pursuing for years. Then KISS became rock’s next big thing.

At every live show they are introduced with the following:

Alright ________ (fill in the city/town they are playing), You wanted the best, you got the best, the hottest band in the world…KISS!!!

From then on they were known to their peers in this manner. Quite a feat for an act many had written off as pure novelty just a few years earlier. I think they were probably the first real hard rock group to make it. Alice Cooper had a make-up image too. By the time KISS hit it big, Alice was solo. His act was so different Frank Zappa took an interest. Like Alice, they were inspired by horror movies and comic books. The four guys came up with unique designs. Then came a youthquake across America.

Alive! was the band’s first live concert album recorded on the Dressed To Kill tour in Detroit, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, Davenport, Iowa and Wildwood, New Jersey. Including the best tracks from the first 3 albums this record did set the world on fire.

Kiss became the top selling rock band in America. Revulsing parents only added to their popularity amoung teenagers of the time. They thought it was the end of Western civilization but it was the beginning of hard rock music. Sure, Black Sabbath brought metal before it had a name and Alice Cooper took shock rock to a new level, but Kiss developed as a hard rock quartet. Even Alice recognized how unique their image had become in comparison to his own. Both artists would continue for the next 30 years.

Producer Bob Ezrin then took Kiss’ superstardom to new heights recording the album “Destroyer”. The songs “Detroit Rock City” and “King of the Nightime World” showed their skills as songwriters and musicians. The record sounds contemporary to this day. “Beth” was the soft side of the group, a ballad, that became their biggest hit. It provided the inspiration for future acts like Motley Crue and Poison to record what came to be known as power ballads in the 1980s glam metal era.

After proving their metal the band offered their new army an array of goodies. Many of their records had extras inside like posters, merchandise order booklets, temporary tattoos, and stickers. This provided more fuel for those who saw them as a passing fad.

Manager Bill Aucoin recognized how much cultural capital the band had earned with their make-up and costumes. He insisted they license their image. And then came the flood of goodies. Mego toys produced dolls, Thermos made lunchboxes, and there were transistor radios, a toy guitar, a phonograph player, and even a colorforms set. I never had any of these items during their heyday. I would indulge later on during the 1990s. Ads were place on television for the toys and concerts. The increasing cost of their shows was covered not only by ticket sales but merchandise. Fans were mostly pleased to openly display their support.

Throughout the 1970s KISS would appear on daytime shows like Mike Douglas and primetime specials like The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. I saw these programs as a kid. I was spellbound by their sound and image.

Their live show included explosions, flashpots, and a sign above the stage that flashed their logo in blinding lights. A new era had arrived. This music that became hard rock was then known as glam or glitter rock. I never got to see and hear them live until after this period.

The band took pride in selecting up and coming bands they felt their fans would like including Rush, Van Halen, and Cheap Trick. These artists are still among my favorite groups.

Gene and Paul’s vision was a band they never saw onstage but wanted to see themselves. A heavy metal version of The Beatles was their intention. I think they delivered despite not being critical darlings or chart toppers.

They never stopped facing adversity. Gene and Paul developed a relationship with their fans. They listened to producers in studio that wanted them to work using different methods to refine the music. However much success they earned the toughest period was their transition from the 1970s to the 1980s.

In an effort to keep the band together KISS released 4 solo albums all at once in 1978. Each album had that member’s face on the cover along with the KISS logo and their name. Each member dedicated their album to the other three guys in the group. A poster came with each album. When all 4 posters were pieced together it formed a full- color mural of the group as superheros. The 4 records shipped platinum. Only the guitarist and singer Ace Frehley would score a top 40 hit with “New York Groove”.

The puzzle posters formed one image of the band when put together.

However, each record expressed that member’s individual musical style. Personal beliefs also played a part. On Gene’s album, for example, he ends with a cover of “When You Wish Upon A Star”. The song was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington for Walt Disney’s 1940 adaptation of Pinocchio. It became a Jazz standard and an icon of The Disney Company.

Paul Stanley produced 9 original tracks. The only member without a cover.
Ace Frehley recently performed this album in its entirety for the first time. The LP features a cover of British glam group Hello, New York Groove. This was the best selling single of the solo lps.
Gene Simmons (1978) had the best chart showing for his record.

The 4 Solo Albums drove a wedge between the members of the group.

Instead of unifying them, they were driven farther apart.

Featuring mostly songs written for Peter’s previous band Lips.
The Catman had the poorest showing of the four.

The band’s prog effort was a flop.

“Music From The Elder” then saw them try to create a ‘serious’ prog rock concept album. There was going to be a movie Starring Chris Makepeace (“My Bodyguard” and “Meatballs”). The story took place in a medieval setting. A boy who sets out to destroy a dark knight. In so doing he becomes a champion. A complete departure from the rock basics it became the most derided effort among fans to this day. The film was never made either.

So they went back into the studio to record what would become their 10th record, “Creatures of the Night”, their last for Casablanca. The label’s head, Neil Bogart died of cancer. The band would dedicate this album to him. After all he was one of the first people to really believe in them.

The “Creatures” album was also the final record in make-up until “Psycho Circus” in 1998. The lackluster performance of their previous 2 efforts had people speculating they would disband. Fans reacted positively to the ballad “I Still Love You”, the anthem “I Love It Loud” also a video on the new cable network MTV. Their tours took a big dip at this time. New drummer Eric Carr in Fox make-up and lead guitarist Vinnie Vincent in Ankh make-up drove old fans away. Peter and Ace faced substance abuse issues that cost them their place in the group.

There were half empty arenas. The times were changing. New wave music was rising. There were new groups who benefitted from MTV. Like KISS before them some of the new artists were accused of being all image too.

But they survived these lows because newer fans like myself wanted to hear and see them. Our parent’s disapproval only pushed us furthur in our support. Kiss did not need to have a #1 hit. Each tour was unique. The records had to remain heavy. Even their album “Dynasty” with its disco number “I Was Made For Lovin You” was a hit worldwide. This success led to the lighter “Unmasked” lp. “Shandi”, a ballad that seemed to be a follow-up to “Beth”, was a big hit in Australia.

My first encounter with them was their 1978 release “Rock N Roll Over”. A tight set of hard rock tracks that I still love today. To this day I will listen to albums from the 70s like “Destroyer”, “Love Gun”, and “Alive!”. Their 1980s output was my entry into their world. Arenas filled with my peers who just wanted to rock out. By the time the first 10 years were over Kiss had never stopped having to prove themselves.

I listened to every counter argument leveled at Kiss: they had no talent, their name stood for Knights in Satan’s Service, they were Nazis, they were gay, they were clowns and were only in it for a buck. Oh, yes, their only popular because of the image.

Then Kiss did something no one had ever expected them to do . On MTV in 1983 the band appeared for the first time without the make-up. I did not see this press conference. I discovered this new Kiss when I went to my local record shop.

“Lick It Up”, their 11th studio album, featured Vincent on lead guitars. He co-wrote the album with the exception of two songs written by Gene Simmons. This proved to be a promising start to a new era of Kiss. Their years on Casablanca were over; Mercury was the new label.

The cover was literally a clean slate. A white background with a full color image of the band . I remember how confused I felt when I first laid my eyes on it. No Ace; No Peter. The logo was just a bold outline, small, in the upper left corner. The only other tell-tale sign that it was Kiss was Gene sticking out his tounge! This was a tough period for them.

Ironically, the MTV launch in late summer 1981, helped Kiss reinvent themselves. The music videos for “Lick It Up” and “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” received heavy airplay. I embraced the new music. I would not see them live until the late 80s.

Although Gene and Paul are not that fond of their post 1977 output their sound influenced the 80s hard rock scene. Cheap Trick’s anthem “Surrender” even mentions the band by name. Motley Crue, Poison, Van Halen, Skid Row, Ratt, Bon Jovi, and many others performed what became known as Glam Metal. Their shows emulated Kiss with big pyrotechnic spectacles.

I finally saw them for the first time on their “Asylum” tour. Vinnie Vincent was long gone. Bruce Kulick was now their lead guitarist. I was studying communications in college at the time. I came across the attributes that define strong groups. The ability to change members was an attribute that stood out for me. Kiss kept going through changes and survived. Some of the records they released would be more appreciated as the years passed.

I would see them several times on various tours. Kiss did World Tours. During the 80’s their make-up related merchandise vanished as well. Only at shows could you get a program and a shirt. Their albums continued to sell too. The only image of The Demon was on the body of Gene’s custom bass. There were always fans who showed up at concerts in full Kiss make-up too.

Kiss released “Animalize” in 1984, “Asylum” in 1985, “Crazy Nights” in 1987, and “Hot In The Shade” in 1989. There was a tour for each. And music videos were produced for MTV. This enabled them to stay around until their resurgence in the mid-1990s. You can look up information about the videos and chart positions. The biggest commercial hit they had since “Beth” was another ballad. “Forever” written by Michael Bolton and Paul Stanley peaked on Billboard at #8. The video reached #1 on Dial MTV thanks to fans. The last 2 records of the decade found Kiss using keyboards, synths, and drum machines. Then came the 1990s.

I saw Kiss twice on their Hot In The Shade Tour. Opening act Slaughter were the latest in a long line of popular groups to get their first national audience at the arena level thanks to Kiss. The show featured a Sphinx whose mouth opens up to reveal the band. Laser lights were also featured effects. The set included songs from the 1970s era too! The rumors of them appearing in make up again were fueled by the music video for the song “Rise To It” which shows Gene and Paul in make-up for a brief moment at the end of the clip.

During their Madison Sq Garden show I caught a Gene Simmons guitar pick and Eric Carr’s drumsticks! I was 6th row center on the floor. The shows were great.

The early 1990s were cruel to hard rock groups and their fans. The labels that had signed Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Warrant, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, and Kiss were starting to move in a new direction. The new decade brought the groups Nirvana and Pearl Jam; Soundgarden and Faith No More. Glam metal died. The new sound became known as Grunge.

Then in 1991 Kiss’ longtime drummer Eric Carr died from heart cancer. His death happened on the same day as Freddie Mercury of Queen! Kiss were again at a transformative point in their career. Another Eric would become the next member of Kiss. And producer Bob Ezrin would work with them again for the first time since the failure of “The Elder” album.

1992’s “Revenge” became the band’s most succesful since 1979’s “Dynasty”. And had the most music videos of any Kiss release. After years of pop infused hard rock the group returned to their more primal 70s sound. Before the arena dates the group performed in a New York City club for a sold out standing-room only crowd. No make-up; No pyro. Just 2 solid hours of their hits. This was one of the best concerts I have ever seen!

Then the group took another unexpected turn by accepting an invitation to record a special for the MTV series Unplugged. This would prove to be the most pivotal event in the band’s storied career.

In 1995 at Sony Studios in New York City the members of Kiss would perform their songs on acoustic guitars. During the show they spoke about the development of the songs too. Then came the surprise. Ace and Peter came out to perform with them for the first time since the end of the 70s dynasty. The stage was set for their official reunion!

Even a reunion of the original band had its adverse results. Although overlooked by many older fans, the unmasked line-up featuring Bruce Kulick on lead guitar was reaching a creative peak with Revenge in 1992 then came an album that got lost.

Following their Revenge World Tour the group returned to the studio. The band once again took another departure from their hard rock sound with “Carnival Of Souls”. I loved this record. The biggest price paid for the reunion was the loss of this album as a tour.

The final studio album of the unmasked era which lasted 13 years.

When the reunion happened they shelved this record. Fans started to get a hold of bootleg versions of this album. The band released it with the title, “Carnival Of Souls: The Final Sessions”. This was Bruce Kulick’s final appearance as a member of KISS. He got his first lead vocal performance on the last track of the set, “I Walk Alone”. Eric Singer, the drummer would not return to the band until 2006.

The following year became their biggest. The Alive Worldwide Tour of 1996 featured the original line-up in make-up with a production inspired by their set for the Love Gun Tour in 1977. Nearly 20 years had passed but when they put the greasepaint on they were young again. And the KISS Army made this tour the most successful of that year.

I went to a group of shows during the tour. The Madison Square Garden concerts were spectacular. For the first time I saw and heard what made KISS so special upon arriving in the turmoil of the 1970s. The songs they brought back into their set included “King Of The Nightime World” and “C’mon and Love Me”. The crowd was the most electric I have ever witnessed. All of the old fans came back to see them too.

This period was a time where the band could feel good about themselves. Even critical reaction was favorable. The waters would get rough again but the group was resilient and nothing would stop them. “Psycho Circus” would be the first make-up album since “Dynasty” to feature Peter And Ace. “Into The Void” is the only track they played on fully. The problems of the old days were returning to bite them again in 1998.

The songs were a love letter to their devotees. During the recording sessions the old problems resurfaced. Other musicians aided the effort to get the album finished. They released a video for the title track in 3-D. The tour would be billed as the first ever done in 3-D too. Then came a hevy period of touring all the places they had not been to for awhile including Europe and Australia. Gene and Paul would invest in ventures outside the rock world like their restaurant Rock N Brews. Arena football, a mini-golf in Vegas, and extending the KISS brand to an array of products that would bring them into their penultimate era.

In 2003 the group toured for the final time with its classic original line-up. A lot of fans misunderstood the farewell tour headline. They were laying to rest this reunion era. The band would not record again until 2009’s Sonic Boom. The next line-up would be their last. The make-up would never come off again. Fans got what they wanted in 1996; Gene and Paul got what they wanted the rest of the way.

Music is a business. I feel strongly that to stay around you need to develop a fan base with pretty consistent albums. KISS built a strong foundation during the 1970s. With the help of session musicians, managers like Bill Aucoin who nurtured their image, and the songwriting skills of the members themselves, they have survived in this business for alomost 50 years.

Without releasing another record there were a lot of concerts. The band reached New Zealand and Chile for the first time. It was also their most extensive tour of Europe. Their Sonic Boom was literally heard around the globe. Since 1998’s Psycho Circus they went 11 years without recording. “Sonic Boom” was the first with Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer returned as drummer. Both had lead vocals on the record. And they wore the trademark make-up of Ace and Peter.

In 2012 KISS released their 20th album, “Monster”. This has now been realised as their final release. It reached #2 on Billboard, their highest chart position ever. The set spelled it out one last time what Kiss were all about. “Hell Or Hallelujah”, “Freak”, “Wall Of Sound”, and “All For The Love Of Rock N Roll” are amoung my favorite songs.

Gene Simmons has become a business guy not ashamed to hawk products he believes in. Paul Stanley has been exhibiting his paintings. Their partnership has lasted 45 years and counting. The final tour is expected to run for the next 3 years.

All I know about them has led me to think there are more surprises to come. I have been fortunate enough to have met most of the members of KISS. I was present aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid when they announced the reunion tour. I have attended 12 concerts.

In August I will see my 13th and final Kiss show. In the end I have many great memories. And there are 20 studio albums and 4 Alive! albums to enjoy whenever I need a jolt of their energy.

Here are my favorite KISS albums and songs:

100,000 Years (Simmons/Stanley)………….KISS (1974)

Rock N Roll All Nite (Simmons/Stanley)….Dressed To Kill (1975)

God Of Thunder (Stanley)……………………….Destroyer (1976)

Sweet Pain (Simmons)…………………………….Destroyer (1976)

Beth (Criss, Penridge, Ezrin)…………………..Destroyer (1976) Lead Vocals by Peter Criss

Shock Me (Frehley)…………………………………..Love Gun (1977) Lead Vocals by Ace Frehley

Hooligan (Criss, Penridge)………………………..Love Gun (1977) Lead Vocals by Peter Criss

Love Gun (Stanley)…………………………………..Love Gun (1977)

I Was Made For Lovin’ You (Stanley, Vini Poncia, Desmond Child)….Dynasty (1979)

Magic Touch (Stanley)………………………………Dynasty (1979)

Talk To Me (Frehley)………………………………..Unmasked (1980)

Two Sides Of The Coin (Frehley)………………..Unmasked (1980)

Only You (Simmons)…………………Music from The Elder (1981) Vocals by Simmons & Stanley

I (Simmons, Ezrin)……………………Music from The Elder (1981)

Rock N Roll Hell (Simmons, Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance)…..Creatures Of The Night (1982)

Lick It Up (Stanley, Vincent)……………………..Lick It Up (1983)

Heaven’s On Fire (Stanley, Child)………………Animalize (1984)

King Of The Mountain (Stanley, Kulick, Child)…..Asylum (1985)

Tears Are Falling (Stanley)……………………………….Asylum (1985)

Unholy (Simmons, Vincent)……………………………..Revenge (1992)

Heart Of Chrome (Stanley, Vincent, Ezrin)…………Revenge (1992)

I Walk Alone (Simmons, Kulick)……………………….Carnival of Souls (1997)

Childhood’s End (Simmons, Thayer, Kulick)……….Carnival of Souls (1997)

We Are One (Simmons)……………………………………..Psycho Circus (1998)

You Wanted The Best (Simmons, Stanley, Criss, Frehley)….Psycho Circus (1998)

Russian Roulette (Simmons/Stanley)………………………………Sonic Boom (2009)

Stand (Stanley/Simmons)………………………………………………Sonic Boom (2009)

Wall Of Sound (Simmons, Thayer, Stanley)………………………Monster (2012)

All For The Love Of Rock N Roll (Stanley)………………………..Monster (2012) Lead Vocals by Eric Singer

KISS Catalog. In 2015 the band’s albums were remastered on vinyl for the first time since 1985. They included all of the original inserts and extras. Kissteria, a vinyl box set was also issued for a high end price of $3,000.00.

KISS
L-R: Tommy Thayer (Guitar), Gene Simmons (Bass), Paul Stanley (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Eric Singer (Drums).
This is the final line-up of the band which has been together since 2006.
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Below L-R:
KISS (1974) First studio effort features “Strutter”, “Cold Gin”, “Firehouse”, “Deuce”and “Black Diamond”.
These songs remained concert favorites throughout their career. The middle image is the reunited group in 1996.
And “Monster” as of this blog entry, the final studio effort.

You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best. The Hottest band in the world….KISS!