Okay, so KISS is finally in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But does it really matter? It took the fans to vote them in and as of this writing, there is controversy over who should be allowed to show up and perform. But still, they are in.
For a lot of us that came of age in the 1970s, KISS will always be something special no matter what the “scholars” at the Hall seemed to think. All of their biases aside, it is not even really debatable the amount of impact this band has had upon both music and society. You can love them or you can hate them, but KISS has survived and thrived through their sheer tenacity, hard work and anthemic catalog.
As a music journalist, something that strikes me is how many artists cite KISS as a major influence. Maybe it was the first show they saw, the first comic book they ever purchased for the first album ever listen to but I have spoken to literally dozens of woman musicians that make no secret of their love and respect for KISS.
When I recently wrote a book about the band and what I think about them, my friend Robert DeLeo from Stone Temple Pilots not only wrote the foreword, but also included sketches he made of the band back in grade school; so ingrained were they in his mind and heart.
Here is a portion of what he wrote:
“As a young boy growing up in the seventies, certain things came along that inspired, affected, or plain-out changed my life: skateboards, minibikes, surfboards, Puma Clydes, rock tumbling sets, Schwinn bikes, Duncan yo-yos, Vertibird, Yoohoo, Evel Knievel, making out, air guitaring and…. KISS…
Little did I know at the time I would grow up to entirely embrace music, get a record deal, dress up as KISS at one of my own shows ( with Ace helping put on the band’s make up!) be asked by KISS to go out on tour, serve jury duty with Paul!?!?!?, and have the opportunity to call and personally ask them for advice on this nutty profession we have chosen. KISS has created quite a legacy. Like all good characters in our lives through time, the Star Child, Space Man, Demon and Cat have been lasting ones.
It’s now thirty five years later that I completely understand what KISS means to me. They did to me exactly what they said they were going to do….They robbed me of my virgin soul!”
So in honor of the “hottest band in the land,” here are 10 KISS landmarks that allow you to walk in the footsteps of the newest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
10 E. 23rd Street – The Loft
The birthplace of KISS. This location is the spot where Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, & Peter Criss first auditioned Ace Frehley and the band took shape. The location is now next door to a comic book store that has an inventory that includes KISS comic books. Go figure.
108 116 W. 43rd St. – Hotel Diplomat
The location that allowed KISS to secure management as Bill Aucoin, Sean Delaney, & Eddie Kramer all witnessed this hungry, young band that wore lots of makeup and electrified the audience in this downtrodden ballroom.
A great history of the Hotel Diplomat can be found HERE.
47-03 Queens Blvd. – Coventry
Site of some of the earliest KISS shows before they became a touring act. Coventry changed their name from ‘Popcorn’ just as KISS began their run playing the location. Footage of one of their Coventry performances is on the KISSOLOGY series of DVDs. A fantastic in-depth history can be found HERE.
4 Pennsylvania Plaza – Madison Square Garden
The site where KISS’ dream was realized. During the band’s earliest years, while performing at dive bars all over the country to sparse crowds, the band would psyche themselves up by imagining that that night’s venue was “the Garden.” This is also the site of Chris Epting’s first concert in 1977.