Legendary American rock band KISS is made up of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer, and Eric Singer. The band got its start in 1973 in New York and has been going strong ever since. Known for face paint and outrageous costumes, their live shows are always a thrill for fans. Concerts feature aspects unlike any other performance, like fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum sets, and an assortment of pyrotechnics. They have the most gold albums of any American Rock Band with 28, their sales worldwide is over 100 million, and they earned one Grammy Award win and nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance with 1999’s “Psycho Circus.” With 20 studio albums, ten live albums, and 11 compilation albums, KISS is a rock band force.
Original band members included Stanley and Simmons, as Starchild and The Demon respectively, Ace Frehley as either Spaceman or Space Ace, and Peter Criss as Catman. Each of their stage names resulted from comic book characters that reflected their different personalities. Frehley and Criss left the band.
The hard rock/heavy metal band signed with Casablanca Records in 1973 and debuted their first album, Kiss, in 1974. The album did not have any singles released from it and received mild attention at first. By 1977, the album was certified gold due to the popularity of the band. They toured for the first time starting in February 1974 and had performances on Dick Clark’s In Concert and the Mike Douglas Show. During the next few years, the band struggled to gain commercial success as their record label was nearing bankruptcy. The band was confident in their live shows, so they released their first live album, Alive!, in 1975. This was their first major success. The studio album, Destroyer, followed closely in 1976 and gained the band a #7 hit with “Beth.” That year, they performed “Detroit Rock City,” “Beth,” and “King of the Night,” on The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, earning them even more recognition.
They released two more albums, Rock and Roll Over and Love Gun, in less than a year to build on their success. Their merchandise began to sell big too as they were more than a band, but caricatures. Among hot selling items were pinball machines, dolls, Halloween masks, make-up kits, and comic books.
Criss left the band after the Dynasty Tour came to an end in 1979. Tensions had been mounting and it was clear he no longer wanted to be part of KISS. Paul Caravello, stage name Eric Carr, joined them for the first time at a live performance in 1980 at the Palladium Theatre in NYC. Vinnie Vincent replaced Frehley in 1982 for KISS’ 10th Anniversary Tour. He left the band after their Creatures tour, was re-hired, then fired again after the Lick It Up tour. He was replaced by Mark St. John.
1983 marked the first time KISS ever performed without make-up. During the next few years, the band struggled with their identity and retaining a fanbase. In the 90’s a wave of KISS nostalgia took over, and in 1995, MTV Unplugged brought them together again with Criss and Frehley where they performed a few of their hits. In 1996, they performed together at the Grammy Awards and that summer, embarked on their Alive/Worldwide Tour. They then released a new album, Psycho Circus, for which they went on tour.
In 1999, they earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and in 2000, announced their U.S. Farwell Tour. Criss left the band during the tour and was replaced by Eric Singer. In 2001, they were honored as part of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Heroes Award ceremony. They performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics and Frehley left the group to be replaced by Tommy Thayer.
KISS headlined the Rock the Nation 2004 World Tour with Poison opening for them. During the next few years, the band headlined at festivals, including Download Festival in England, Arrow Rock Festival in the Netherlands, and Graspop Metal Meeting in Belgium.
They released their first album in over ten years in 2009, following up with a performance on American Idol and the Sonic Boom Over Europe tour for the album of the same name. They have a new album, Monster, set to be released in June 2012. In addition, KISS is going on tour this summer, kicking off in Bristow, VA on July 20. They will travel across the U.S., including to Mansfield’s Comcast Center on September 16.