Metal had always had this kind of raw masculinity, almost pushing machismo. Even through the heads full of long, luscious hair, the pure power of the male ego rang through the harsh, dark words and long dramatic guitar solos. In 1973 the American response to the British burst onto the music scene. These guys made had made a conscious choice to approach the genre in a very different way, covered completely in make-up painted faces and wild leather costumes. They were no longer just four guys from New York, the took the stage and became: The Starchild, The Demon, The Spaceman and The Catman. They are, the leaders of the legendary KISS Army, they are KISS!
- The Starchild (Paul Stanley)
- The Demon (Gene Simmons)
- The Spaceman <aka Space Ace> (Ace Frehley)
- The Catman (Peter Criss)
What’s better than a guitar solo?
A fire-breathing guitar solo!
KISS exploded onto the scene with great songs like Rock and Roll All Nite, the music became about the party. Up until this point stage shows had been just that, a simple stage show where fans could go and watch their favorite bands do what they did best, play music. They were fun, and because at the time concert goers did not know it could be any different no one complained. KISS thought they could one-up the rest, and make their lives shows a theatrical experience the world would never forget. They did just that, breaking new ground for bands we would later come to love like Rammstein, and Marilyn Manson just to name a few of modern music’s more famous shock rockers.
The band is legendary, and the stage shows even more. People who aren’t even fans of KISS will go to a show, just to see the bands antics; and then fall in love with those 4 bizarre characters on the stage. KISS introduced the public to costuming, pyrotechnics and lasers. This kind of live party event created a commercialism in the heavy metal genre typical to American culture.
The band’s name and logo brought with it much speculation and controversy; with a logo looking eerily similar to Halter’s “SS”, and conspiracy theorist saying that the letters meant different versions of “Kids in Satan’s Service”. Often sighted with the deterioration of America’s youth these guys got all the attention, negative and positive.
Fans of the band were so dedicated, and so enthralled with the music and the characters that imitation was bound to happen, around the world teenagers dressed as their favorite characters, they could easily buy “Kiss Your Face” make up kits at the shops and become their own versions of the bands alter egos. This, to my knowledge, was the first real “fandom”. The official fan club of the band was dubbed “The KISS Army” as droves of costume wearing, make-up adorning kids marched on concerts Dressed to Kill.
There was once a time, when heavy metal music was “the devils music”. It was condemned, and disregarded as anything of value in modern society. Oh, how times have changed. In 2009 Condoleeza Rice, the American Secretary of State, proved to the world that heavy metal music was no longer a niche genre when she became an official member of the KISS Army so that she too, could “”Party Everyday”.