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Calf born on July 28 looks exactly like Gene Simmons of KISS
08.01.2017
09:12 am
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Well, maybe not exactly. I mean, the calf isn’t trying to trademark “devil horns” or anything absurd like that. But you gotta admit the calf, appropriately named Genie, does bear a rather striking resemblance to the bass-playing, tongue-wagging “God of Thunder,” Gene Simmons. 

Born on 28 July at a ranch in Kerrville, Texas, apparently the calf is even sticking out her tongue in honor of Simmons.

The good news is, Genie will not be turned into someone’s dinner, but will serve as a mascot for a steakhouse. Okay, let me take that back, maybe that’s not such good news.


 
via The Sun

Posted by Tara McGinley
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08.01.2017
09:12 am
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Klassic KISS megapost: KISS annihilate the senses with explosive live versions of ‘Firehouse’
07.17.2017
10:25 am
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Spirit of 76
 
Since their early days, KISS have been known for their live performances. One song—one moment, in particular—has played an important role in THE KISS SHOW, a larger-than-life spectacular consisting of flashing lights, flamethrowers, explosions, fire breathing, smoking guitars, and levitating drums. It’s a moment in their concerts that’s designed for maximum entertainment by overwhelming the audience with sights and sounds.

“Firehouse” was written by Paul Stanley when he was just sixteen years old. One day in 1968, Stanley was listening to a radio program that focused on British music, when he heard the new single by the Move, “Fire Brigade”.

What I was doing at that point in terms of song writing was taking inspiration from songs I remembered from the radio. When I heard “Fire Brigade,” I loved the concept. So I sat down and began to hash out a song of my own using the same idea. I hadn’t heard the song enough to actually copy it musically, but I had grasped something that I really liked. (from Face the Music: A Life Exposed)

Stanley would later bring “Firehouse” to Wicked Lester, the pre-KISS band he was in with Gene Simmons. When KISS formed, it became one of their earliest songs, and was played at their first show, which took place at club called the Coventry in Queens on January 30th, 1973. That September, it was their closing number during a showcase performance for Casablanca Records, the label that would soon sign them. A heavy track with a Black Sabbath-like tempo and a killer groove, “Firehouse” was among the numerous standout cuts from KISS’s self-titled debut.
 

 
The original KISS lineup, which existed as a live act from 1973-1979, played “Firehouse” on every tour. The song appears on Alive (1975), the double live album that went multi-platinum and made KISS a success. Part of the appeal of Alive was that it had enough audible effects, like the sirens heard at the end of “Firehouse,” that listening to in your bedroom was the next best thing to being at a KISS concert.
 
More KISS after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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07.17.2017
10:25 am
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KISS is selling air guitar strings!
02.10.2017
08:57 am
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This is some of the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen: KISS air guitar strings. You heard me. KISS is selling bags of oxygen to people for $3.99 a pop. What’s worse is they’re apparently selling like Pet Rocks.

Metalsucks sums up their value nicely:

These strings are precision manufactured to the highest standards and most exacting specifications to ensure consistency, optimum performance, and long life. KISS Air Guitar Strings are made from nothing wrapped around more nothing, with specially tempered nothing-plated high carbon nothing, producing a well-balanced tone for your air guitar. Gauges .000, .000, .000, .000, .000, and .000. And best of all, they’re only four bucks for a pack of none! WHAT AN AMAZING VALUE!!! That’s a great use of four dollars and is definitely not just throwing your money away.

If people are stupid enough to buy this “merchandise,” I say take their money and run! You deserve to lose your four bucks!

So far, these air guitar strings are only available in Las Vegas. I looked on KISS’ website and couldn’t find them.

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
KISS THIS: 45 shitastic minutes of Paul Stanley’s stage banter
KISS rocks out on ‘The Paul Lynde Halloween Special,’ 1976
KISS, with the vocals half a step out of key, sound like drunk frat boys at a karaoke bar
KISS: Their X-rated early days

Posted by Tara McGinley
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02.10.2017
08:57 am
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KISS, Sparks, & rock ‘n’ roller coasters: The legendary ‘Magic Mountain’ theme park of the 1970’s
01.11.2017
12:21 pm
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On an incredibly hot memorial day weekend in 1971, Magic Mountain opened in Valencia, California just 18 months after construction began. The “theme” of this theme park was not entirely clear and it only had one roller coaster, however the park’s other offerings—the fireworks, rides, laser shows, arcade games, and nightly concerts—made “fun, magic, and rock ‘n’ roll” the name of the game. By the time the park was sold to Six Flags at the end of the decade, Magic Mountain had cemented a place in rock ‘n’ roll history by giving many young Southern Californians their very first live concert experience. Its three venues (7-Up / Dixi Cola Showcase Theatre, The Gazebo, and Kaleidoscope) were home to many great acts such as Fleetwood Mac, The Carpenters, Sonny & Cher, The Jackson 5, The Everly Brothers, and KISS who attracted a long-haired, beer can drinking parking lot crowd that didn’t meet Disneyland’s strict dress code and could afford the $5 admission price.
 

Sonny & Cher performed nightly from Sept 2nd-12th, 1971 at Magic Mountain’s 7-Up Showcase Theatre
 
When it first opened Magic Mountain secured a short-term deal from Warner Brothers to use their Looney Tunes characters, however when that agreement expired in 1972 a lineup of very unmemorable troll characters were introduced: Bloop, Bleep, King Troll (aka King Blop) and the Wizard. These bizarre, colorful, psychedelic looking walk-around characters became the most recognizable symbols of the park throughout the ‘70s. They greeted guests, posed for photographs, and appeared on all manners of merchandise and advertising before being discontinued in 1985.
 

“Trolls & Fountain” 1977 Magic Mountain postcard
 
By the mid-1970’s the park begun introducing faster and scarier rides such as The Electric Rainbow, Galaxy, and Jolly Monster. However, it was the Great American Revolution (the first modern, 360-degree steel looping coaster) in 1976 that gave the park its first real thrill factor. At the time Universal was filming a disaster-suspense movie called Rollercoaster about a young extortionist (played by Timothy Bottoms) who travels around the U.S. planting bombs on roller coasters promising horrific casualties to those who don’t meet his one million dollar ransom. The film’s climactic final sequence takes place during a huge rock concert celebrating the grand opening of Revolution. While teen-idol fan magazines Tiger Beat and Sixteen reported to their readers that the Scottish glam-rock band the Bay City Rollers were to perform in this film it was actually Los Angeles’ own Sparks who accepted the role having just relocated back to L.A. from England.
 
Sparks were documented on the big screen prior to their breakthrough commercial success during a strange transitional period for the band when they briefly dropped their quirkiness and demanded to be taken seriously. Concerned at the time that their music may have become stale, the Mael brothers left their synthesizers behind for a more “American” guitar sound on their Rupert Holmes produced album Big Beat. Although Rollercoaster was a modest success despite fierce competition from Star Wars at the box office that summer, Ron & Russell Mael of Sparks now look back upon the film with embarrassment. “Yes, you did see Sparks performing ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Fill’er Up’ in the film Rollercoaster during your last airplane trip,” said Russell Mael in the September 2006 issue of Mojo Magazine. “No, we didn’t know that the film was going to turn out like that. Rollercoaster movie proves that you have to be continually careful of what you do… You never know what’s going to last and what’s going to fall by the wayside, and man, does that last!” Sparks’ cameo in Rollercoaster is brief but fun and energetic, especially when Ron Mael gets rowdy and smashes his piano stool on the stage.
 

Russell Mael of Sparks performing in front of Revolution in the 1977 disaster film ‘Rollercoaster’
 
In 1978 at the height of KISS’ massive popularity, Hanna-Barbera Productions produced a made-for-television movie for NBC titled Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Filmed on location at Magic Mountain, the film’s poor script revolved around an evil inventor living underneath the theme park whose nefarious plans are thwarted by an other-galactic rock ‘n’ roll group with superpowers (played by KISS). Despite the fact that all four members were given crash courses on acting, much of the dialogue recorded was unusable and had to be re-dubbed in post production. Ace Frehley was said to have become increasingly frustrated with the long periods of downtime normally associated with filmmaking and stormed off the set one day leaving his African American stunt double to finish his scenes (which made for perhaps one of the most noticeable and unintentionally hilarious continuity errors in the history of cinema). KTNQ’s “The Real” Don Steele (one of the most popular disc jockeys in the U.S.) gave away 8,000 tickets to see KISS perform live at the Magic Mountain parking lot which was filmed for the movies big dramatic rock ‘n’ roll concert ending.
 
Keep reading after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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01.11.2017
12:21 pm
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‘Back in the New York groove’: Say hello to 70s UK teenage glam rockers Hello
11.16.2016
10:38 am
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Hello in the early 70s.
 
If after reading the title of this post you just felt your heavy metal spidey sense acting up then congratulations. This means you already know that London-based glam rockers Hello were the first band to record the impossibly earwiggy jam “New York Groove” popularized by Ace Frehley of KISS on his 1978 solo record.

Getting together while still in their teens, dreamy denim enthusiast and Peter Frampton-esque frontman Bob Bradbury hooked up with drummer Jeff Allen (who also happened to be the sibling of Chris Cross, later the bassist for Ultravox), Keith Marshall and Vic Faulkner and Hello was born sometime during the year 1971. During the next few years the band would fall victim to a bizarre series of missed opportunities when it came to scoring a hit, though in 1974 the band reversed some of that bad luck and chalked up one in the win category with “Tell Him,” an Exciters cover. Then another lucky break came Hello’s way thanks to Russ Ballard, who in addition to his numerous songwriting and production credits scored a couple of hits of his own during his time with the group Argent, “Hold Your Head Up,” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You.”

Before Ballard left Argent the band opened a few shows for KISS in 1974. Ballard left prior to the completion of the tour and ended up producing and playing guitar for Roger Daltrey’s 1975 solo record Ride a Rock Horse. Upon Ballard’s suggestion, the decision was made to master that record at Sterling Sound in New York. During his long plane trip from London, Ballard ended coming up with the phrase “I’m back in the New York Groove” which he would later work into “New York Groove.” While at Sterling, Ballard connected with Hello on the recommendation of his brother who had just seen the teens tear it up at a live gig. Hello recorded “New York Groove” which ended up breaking the Top 10 in the UK. Ace Frehley put his own twist on “New York Groove” and the song would help propel sales of Frehley’s solo record, the most successful of the four solo releases put out by the original members of KISS in 1978. The “New York Groove” single charted within the Top 20.

Hello would enjoy a short time in the spotlight even moving their base of operations to Germany (where audiences were digging on them more than in the UK) before calling it quits in 1979. Full disclosure—I LOVE all things glam rock and Hello is no exception to my cool rule. I’ve included four of Hello’s jams in this post which showcase the band performing (or lipsynching) “New York Groove,” “Tell Him,” “Star Studded Sham,” and “Love Stealer.” In other good news for your ears Cherry Red Records has just released a four-CD box set that contains pretty much everything the band ever recorded, 74 tracks in all. As Cherry Red said in their press release it’s a “long overdue” collection of great glam from the past that if you just might have missed.

Bob Bradbury still tours with the most recent lineup of Hello.
 

 

Hello doing ‘New York Groove.’
 
More Hello after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
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11.16.2016
10:38 am
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Pinball machine featuring the Stones, Elton John, The Who, AC/DC, KISS and many more
09.06.2016
10:17 am
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003rollingstonepinball1.jpg
 
The pinball arcade was where the boys in leather jackets hung out. The guys into Heavy Metal, Hell’s Angels and books by Sven Hassel. That’s what I recall from growing up. The pinball machines were always situated at the far end of the arcade—past the lines of slot machines with itchy-fingered retirees spending their hard-earned cash and the whey-faced office clerks on their lunch break in off-the-peg suits and white socks.

In those days smoking was permitted indoors—so the back of the room where the pinball machines and the boys in denim and leather hung out was always thick with blue cigarette smoke. Just go down to the back of the room and inhale a few breaths—it saved you on the cost of buying smokes.

For some reason pinball machines were associated with being tough. I was never really quite sure why. Manliness and the ability to use flippers dexterously meant—obviously in some secret code I was unable to fathom—that you were a tough guy. These boys sneered at punk. Tolerated Prog. Hated Glam and Mod—which was strange as most liked Slade and The Who. What they did like was Black Sabbath. Deep Purple. Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. AC/DC. And The Rolling Stones—post 1968.

Their bravado was all front—like the flashing lights and bells of the pinball machines they played. The pinball was a totem for their nascent identity. In a few years time, some of these boys would be in their own off-the-peg suits playing slot machines during their lunch breaks.

Pinball has always had that macho outsider image—which probably explains why certain hard rockin’ bands and artistes have opted to merchandise their product through pinball machines.
 
003Arollingstonespinball.jpg
 
More rock and pop pinball machines, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.06.2016
10:17 am
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KISS, with the vocals half a step out of key, sound like drunk frat boys at a karaoke bar
05.24.2016
09:35 am
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Post delivers.

Here’s KISS doing their 1979 hit off the Dynasty album, “I Was Made For Loving You”—remixed, sounding something like your favorite karaoke bar superstar.

The advent of games like Rock Band brought about a lot of classic pop songs being salvaged from their master tapes and separated into their core instrument tracks in order to facilitate gameplay. Clever hackers have been able to grab those separated tracks from the games, turn them into MOGG files, and an underground cottage industry has developed around remixers re-appropriating these isolated instrument sounds. This is partially responsible for the explosion in mashup songs over the past decade. Sometimes really amazing creations can be concocted using a guitar line from one song and a vocal from another.

Or you can do what YouTube user Pluffnub has done: take a bunch of beloved songs and pitch down only the vocals a half step… making them sound like retarded drunks.

The effect is beautifully subtle—it sounds off JUST ENOUGH to be fucked up, but it might take you a few seconds to notice just HOW fucked up.

Pluffnub has done several of these, including songs by Queen, Duran Duran, A-Ha, and Iron Maiden.

But this one is the best. “I Was Made For Loving You” by KISS. It really gets good on the choruses. It’s especially satisfying in light of Gene Simmons making such a turd out of himself lately.

“Feel the magic” after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Christopher Bickel
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05.24.2016
09:35 am
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KISS 1975 vs KISS in 2015: Do they owe it to their fans to remain ‘cool’?
12.03.2015
04:00 pm
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Hot on the heels of yesterday’s KISS-related post comes yet another, but I just had to get this off my chest…

This morning an article from Culturemap Austin found its way into my newsfeed with the headline: “KISS members shake up Texas with new rock ‘n’ roll restaurant venture.” It contained a photograph of Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, both in their 60s, standing behind several plates of Applebees-esque “comfort food.” The pair were promoting their new restaurant Rock & Brews, as the article went on to explain:

The restaurant and entertainment concept, founded by two rockers with infamous reputations, is a family-friendly space serving up “American comfort food” and a wide selection of beer. The decor is heavily inspired by rock ‘n’ roll music and includes concert lighting and music-themed art.

“We spend a lot of time performing in large venues while on tour, and we are proud to be part of the AT&T Center renovations to enhance the fan experience,” said Stanley, who will perform the national anthem at the December 11 game.

Rock & Brews is just one facet of the $110 million AT&T Center renovation completed in October. Other updates include new seating, streamlined entryways, additional concession options, and a more modern look.

 

 
Granted the members of KISS are successful businessmen in their 60s, and granted they are widely known for their crass marketing of anything they can put the KISS name on, but I’ll be honest, as a lifelong fan, the article bummed me out—really for no other reason than because it just seemed so goddamned uncool.

And yes, I know this sort of thing is nothing new for Gene and Paul, but somehow it hit me harder than normal today. Here’s the band I grew up with, who were the epitome of everything cool when I was a kid. Not just the music and the makeup and the outfits and the blood and the fire… there was a whole mystique there.

When we were kids we believed that KISS really had the magical powers we saw in KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. We believed that their name really stood for “Knights In Satan’s Service.” We believed that Gene Simmons had a cow’s tongue grafted onto his own. We believed that Gene had once stomped on Shaun Cassidy’s face onstage with his dragon boots. All of these (bullshit) things we believed in because KISS were a mystery. They were cool.
 

 
As my favorite Luis Buñuel quote goes, “Mystery is the essential element of every work of art.”

Now, do I really think that the bands we thought were cool as kids owe it to their fans to stay cool forever? Not really, no. I mean, we all grow up. We figure out that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real. If the Demon and the Starchild want to open a rock and roll version of a fucking Chili’s in a giant corporate complex, then they should do that. It’s their gig. If I have a problem with that being uncool, then, sure, that’s MY problem.

But still, it feels like a bummer. These were my childhood idols, man.
 

 
In many ways, the genie (no pun intended) is already out of the KISS bottle. All the bullshit marketing aside… All the reunion tours with stand-in members wearing Peter and Ace’s make-up aside… As soon as you do a reality show, THAT’S IT. The mystery is gone forever. Ozzy set the precedent and Gene followed. Shit, Dee Snider too. The Prince of Darkness, The Demon, The Twisted Sister… they can’t be gods anymore. They’re exposed as middle-aged schlubs with boring family problems like the rest of us. You don’t get to go back to being cool after that. Why not open an “American Comfort Food” joint? That’s as cool as it gets from here on out.

Something tells me Paul and Gene are OK with that and they certainly don’t give a shit whether or not some blogger at Dangerous Minds thinks they’re cool or not. And they shouldn’t.

Still, I was thinking about this new restaurant and the kinds of things KISS does today to promote their brand (like appearing in Walmart commercials), versus how they promoted their brand in the early days—when they were still cool.

I remembered one of my favorite cool KISS stories. It’s the tale of a really neat Little Rascals-style promotional stunt that KISS pulled off in 1975. This was right as the band were poised to become huge megastars right after the release of Alive!.
 

 
The band had heard that a high school football team in Cadillac, Michigan were KISS fans who played their music in the locker room before games. KISS adopted the Cadillac High Vikings as “their team” and visited the high school to play their Homecoming. The entire town embraced the young band and declared a “KISS Day,” with a parade and the members receiving the key to the city. When you look at photos from that event, it’s hard to tell if it was a cooler thing for the band or the town. Maybe it was a wash. It was great promotional gimmick for the group and I’m sure the kids in Cadillac have never forgotten the experience. The photographic evidence indicates that everyone was having the time of their lives. Now THAT’s cool.

These 1975 Cadillac, Michigan photos (uploaded to the “70s KISS” Facebook page) kill me:
 

 

 

 

‘KISS 1975 vs KISS in 2015: Do they owe it to their fans to remain ‘cool’?’ continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Christopher Bickel
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12.03.2015
04:00 pm
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This is SO Spinal Tap: Insane poker-faced documentary about an all Ace Frehley KISS tribute band!
12.02.2015
03:42 pm
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Last year I posted about Ace Frehley’s former ultimate fan, Bill Baker and his brush with greatness his fallen idol. It’s a real life “lovable loser” story tailor-made for a Peter Bagge comic book adaptation. In the comments of that post, a reader named Eric posted “Watch this next” and a link to a YouTube clip, part 1 of “Ace’s High,” a short 1999 documentary about—get this—an all Ace KISS tribute band then apparently operating in Detroit.

OMFG…

Each of the members of Ace’s High dresses as Ace in all his 70s glory and they only play songs written by Ace, or else associated with him such as “New York Groove.” That’s right, Paul and Gene are “assholes” and Peter Criss hardly gets a mention from the four members of Ace’s High (although they do all seem to harbor an apparently infinitely deep hatred of Vinnie Vincent, the guitarist who had the audacity to try to step into Ace’s unfillable platforms when he left the group in 1982.)

Here’s the thing, I’ve looked these guys up on the Internet every which way (there is precious little about them or the film) and I’ve watched this thing three times now to see if it might be a goof, but I’ll be damned I think this is—or was—a real tribute act! There will be arguments aplenty as to whether or not this is scripted or a “mockumentary” but from what I can tell, nope, these guys really did form an all Ace Frehley KISS tribute band.

Fiction is not this stupid.

The motivation as to why someone would do such a thing remains mysterious to me, but it’s, it’s… how do I put this? It was a noble endeavor?

Nah…

This is SO Spinal Tap that it hurts. And take it from a man whose TV stock-in-trade was getting wackos to talk to him and keeping a straight face, this is an absolute gem of outsider documentary. Watch it on a KISS fanatics double bill with the Bill Baker videos. But do watch it, it’s the fucking best thing ever. If you like things like American Movie, the films of Christopher Guest and Documentary Now, trust me, you’re gonna like this, too… It’s a stone classic, another Heavy Metal Parking Lot.

Starring: Hotter than Hell Ace ‘74, Kiss Alive Ace ‘75, Destroyer Ace ‘76 and Love Gun Ace ‘77. Produced by AWOL. Part 2 is here.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.02.2015
03:42 pm
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Just a nice Jewish boy: A young Gene Simmons on ‘The Mike Douglas Show,’ 1974


 
A couple of weeks ago, DM’s Amber Frost showed us a pretty ridiculous TV news feature taking the gargantuan ‘70s arena rock band KISS to task for having the temerity to market themselves. The whole thing was full of tedious old-fart tut-tutting, and it frankly felt like the band wasn’t actually being scolded for their publicity machinery, but rather for being young and nothing at all like Tony Bennett.

So when I ran across this Gene Simmons interview on the old Mike Douglas show from 1974, I expected more or less the same vibe—the show, after all, was one of the champs of a soon-to-be-obsolete style of daytime variety programming that gave a reliable home to fading stars and alter kocker holdovers from the late vaudeville and early television eras for a demographic of stay-at-home housewives that was about to shrink significantly. So when it turned out that Douglas and his other guests reacted to Simmons’ startling kabuki-ghoul appearance in stride and just joked with him like anyone else, it was quite a surprise.
 

 
This was in the early days of KISS, so Simmons didn’t really have his schtick nailed down yet, and his efforts to project a menacing, demonic character fall WAY flat, as if to answer the question of what shock-rock looks like without shock. His professed desire to drink the audience’s blood and his self-characterization as “evil incarnate” barely seem to elicit much more than a shrug from the audience.

The interview is saved by a pretty amazing exchange between Simmons and old-school comedienne Totie Fields, who joked that it would be funny if Simmons, under the makeup, turned out to be “just a nice Jewish boy.” Simmons, of course, is not just an actual Jewish boy, but an Israeli sabra born Chaim Witz, and he drolly (and pretty Jewily) retorted “You should only know…” Fields owned the moment by interjecting “I DO! You can’t hide the hook!” Fields herself was born Sophie Feldman, and could probably spot a Member of the Tribe using a showbiz pseudonym a mile away.

The appearance also includes Douglas interviewing the winners of a kissing contest (*eyeroll*), and a band performance—as in an actual live-in-studio performance, it’s not mimed—of the early song “Firehouse.”
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
NBC explains KISS to old people, 1977
KISS: Their X-rated early days

Posted by Ron Kretsch
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08.14.2015
11:12 am
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NBC explains KISS to old people, 1977
07.31.2015
09:56 am
Topics:
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From Kiss’s 1977 special edition Marvel comic. They said that drops of the band’s own blood had been mixed in with the ink.
 
Gimmicks get a bad rap, and the music snobs who supposedly abhor them tend to be very inconsistent in their denouncements. No one would talk shit on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ manic voodoo schtick for example (unless, I guess, they’re just openly anti-fun). Likewise, “serious” music nerds love bands like The Spotniks, and “Swedish science fiction bluegrass surf” is about as “novelty act” as you can get. But mention KISS in a Pitchfork crowd and you will inevitably encounter at least one disdainful scoff—if not the entire room—but if you can’t appreciate a man in glam rock alien makeup vomiting blood onstage, I feel sorry for you. Take this 1977 NBC mini-doc—“Land Of Hype And Glory”—as your cautionary tale.

The piece starts with scenes from a carnival, which is actually a decent metaphor for the band (carnivals are fun! People love carnivals, and people love KISS!). But the narration goes for the P.T. Barnum angle—“there’s a sucker born every minute”—implying that KISS fans are somehow being swindled by enjoying a sensational live show. (Fun and entertainment? Whatta bunch of suckers!) The reporter goes on to ask the band if they’re “bludgeoning rock to death,” and interrogates Gene Simmons on KISS’ “less-than-average” music. Simmons is quick to point out that their songwriting is intended to be “accessible,” rather than “self-indulgent.” Intended as a denunciation of hype, the entire feature comes off as a besuited old man scolding a group of professional showmen who aren’t taking themselves too seriously.

You don’t have to be a fan, but KISS are dumb, loud and easy, and if you can’t appreciate that, you’re really missing something fundamental about rock ‘n’ roll. And now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to run away before I am pelted by Sleaford Mods and Brian Eno CDs…
 

Posted by Amber Frost
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07.31.2015
09:56 am
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KISS: Their X-rated early days
07.23.2015
12:30 pm
Topics:
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Before KISS became a kid-friendly marketing machine with their own line of dolls and comic books aimed at the eight-to-sixteen demographic, the group maintained a darker, edgier, and more decidedly adult image. KISS, after all, came from the same sleazy New York scene as the Dolls and were demonstrably more musically aggro than most of their early ‘70s contemporaries—and let’s not forget the lyrical themes of alcohol abuse, prostitution, pedophilia, and anal sex

It was during these early years that KISS recorded their second album, Hotter Than Hell. Though it contains some of KISS’ best songs, the record suffered from notoriously muddy production. The cover artwork, while striking with its Japanese-inspired visuals, also suffers from a degree of print-muddiness in the photo images of the group. What ended up on the album sleeve barely hints at the debaucherous photo session that spawned those images. Some sources have described this shoot as having devolved into a full-on “orgy,” although Peter Criss’ ex-wife, Lydia, has played down those allegations.
 

 
Kiss Fan Site has reprinted some outtakes of the Hotter Then Hell photo session, along with quotes from the band members describing the wild shoot. One wonders how history would look back on KISS if they had kept with the Bacchanalian “sex and drugs and rock and roll” image implied in this shoot. Photographer Norman Seeff emerges as the character responsible for much of the insanity. Apparently everyone was wasted, except for life-long tea-totaller, Gene Simmons.

This is definitely not the kid stuff we saw a few years later with Marvel Comics and Hanna-Barbera TV movie productions. The mise-en-scène of furs and rugs and glitter and skulls and ropes and Coors cans with drunkenly splayed, mugging, groupie-groping band members is, if nothing else, a beautiful rock and roll mess.
 

 

Gene Simmons: We did a photo session with Norman Seeff in Los Angeles. Norman was a very bright but strange guy who believed that photo sessions should be this other thing. So he would create a climate and bring down everybody and anybody. Girls who would blow you, anything that would happen just to get a sense of something.

 

 

Peter Criss: It was a wild photo session for the back cover. I was sitting in the armchair there with this broad giving me head with this mask on. It was really fucking wild. Paul was in bed with a bunch of broads and me in a robe over this big knight’s table’s chair. The photographer [Seeff] got us all drunk. That was the idea. He got us all loaded. Everyone was drunk except Gene but Gene had to be drunk on the whole room being drunk. Even the models and the people in the room were drunk. No one was sober but Gene but he had to be intoxicated from just the intoxication of the whole vibe.

 

 

Paul Stanley: I don’t know if anybody can make out the back cover of the album but we were having this wild, wild party with tons of people in weird outfits. Ten minutes after that picture was taken I passed out. I cut my hand, I don’t know how I did it. It was pretty strange. I was so drunk that they locked me in a car and I couldn’t find my way out. Like any of the Fellini films, Satyricon, it was bizarre but it was really great too. It was a party unlike most others that I’ve been to. A lot of the pictures taken for the back cover have never seen the light of day because some people didn’t want to be incriminated by the pictures. Someone would go, “Oh, I can’t let so-and-so see me at that party.”

 

 

Norman Seeff: The Hotter Than Hell photo shoot was done at the Raleigh stages in Hollywood. The front and back cover were shot on the same day. I had just come back from Japan and met one of the great Japanese artists, Tadanori Yokoo. He was a combination of Timothy Leary, Andy Warhol, and Picasso. I think the way KISS were dressed and who they were suggested to me that Yokoo’s work would be an ideal direction for them. As we went further, I thought “Why not put the title in Japanese as well?” I called in a brilliant designer, John Van Hamersveld, to do the design. The album’s title dictated the party shot, the Satyricon fantasy concept for the back cover. My whole approach is forging a creative partnership with people, it’s very free-form. I made it clear that this is a stage for creative improvisation. KISS were doing a rock ‘n’ roll ballet for the shoot where each of the individuals were playing a part. It was incredibly exciting, they worked so well off of each other. They came in and they delivered.

 

 

Gene Simmons: That session was one of the few times that I’ve seen Paul drunk. He was blitzed. The only thing that was missing was Rod Serling going [imitates Serling’s voice] “Witness Paul Stanley entering the Twilight Zone.” There was a photo of him with a girl who had nothing on, sort of painted like Goldfinger with silver stuff. I don’t even think Paul was aware that there were forces of gravity. So he reached over and in one shot you sort of see him nuzzling with this chickie and the next second he’s over the bed. He’d fallen over. At the end of the photo session I had to carry him to the car and lock him in the back seat.

 

 

Ace Frehley: For one photo session we did for the Hotter Than Hell album, this doctor told me I could only put makeup on half of my face. So all the shots were profiles [laughs]. I got into a car accident. Something pissed me off. I got drunk one night and I kept driving around the Hollywood Hills. I kept going around the same block faster and faster [laughs] until I lost control and hit a telephone pole. I think I was just testing destiny. I got out of the car and I had cut my head. I walked back down to the hotel and I knocked on my road manager’s door and there’s blood running all down my face. He said, “Oh God, what happened to you?” I go, “I wrecked a car.” One of many [laughs], it was like the beginning of the saga.

 
More photos after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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07.23.2015
12:30 pm
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KISS, without makeup, play Ace Frehley’s wedding reception in 1976
06.09.2015
10:00 am
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When Ace and Jeanette Frehley got married in 1976, the members of KISS used the opportunity to take the stage and instruments of the wedding band (St. James Infirmary) and play some songs at the reception. After playing one song, Ace’s new father-in law asked the band to stop—as all the attention was going to the band instead of the wedding activities. The band played two more.

The book Kiss and Sell: The Making of a Supergroup by C.K. Lendt, who worked with KISS’ financial team, gives an insight into the vibe at the reception:

Ace’s May 1976 wedding to Jeanette Trerotola, an Italian girl from suburban New York, was a huge affair at New York’s Americana hotel that attempted to link two sharply different worlds. Jeanette came from a large family. At the wedding, many relatives showed up, including her grandfather, one of the highest ranking officials in the Teamsters who was known as Joe T. Her father was also a Teamster official. At times, the two camps reportedly appeared to face off against each other, with each group congregating on opposite sides of the ballroom. One friend of the band, a gay musician who came dressed in a black leather motorcycle jacket and knee-high boots, supposedly came close to inciting a riot when he congratulated members by giving them bear hugs and huge kisses.

Luckily someone captured part of the impromptu wedding jam. The band performs “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “Shout It Out Loud” in a short super 8mm reel. According to this site, “Nothing to Lose” was also played. The sound quality is rough, and the performances are a bit sloppy, but that could be attributed to either free-flowing wedding booze, or, more likely, the hypothesis put forward in the 1978 documentary KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, that without their magic talismans they are just ordinary human beings with no mystical powers (or ability to keep in tune).
 

“I’d heard about your talismans, but I didn’t think they really existed. What’s that humming noise?”
 
If you are a fan, this 8mm film footage, albeit rough, is gold. Remarkably, the band seem to really actually kind of like each other in the clip.

It’s also remarkable to see footage from this era of the band without makeup. The identities of the members were closely guarded by the band and management at this time. Even when a magazine of the day could snap photos of the band, they’d never actually print them, for fear of losing access to publicity materials from the “hottest band in the world.” Creem magazine’s art director, Charlie Auringer, snapped these photos back in 1975 —of course they weren’t printed!
 

 

 

 
And now, you wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest wedding band in the land, KISS:
 

 

Posted by Christopher Bickel
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06.09.2015
10:00 am
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Lou Reed’s collaboration with KISS
01.23.2015
09:04 am
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Decades before Loutallica, there was KISS’s Music from “The Elder,” “the best concept album ever” (Julian Cope). There are a lot of strange things about Music from “The Elder”: recorded with an orchestra and a choir, collecting triumphant songs that sound more like the Who than KISS, the album is the soundtrack to an imaginary movie. Also, three of its songs boast lyrics by Lou Reed.

KISS recorded Elder with big-time 70s rock producer Bob Ezrin, who had produced a number of superb Alice Cooper records, along with KISS’s own Destroyer, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, and Reed’s Berlin. (It’s always fun to compare the strings on Reed’s “Sad Song” with those on Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”) In the words of the “official authorized biography” KISS: Behind the Mask:

In a last-ditch effort to regain their popularity and break new artistic ground, KISS reunited with Destroyer producer Bob Ezrin for 1981’s Music from “The Elder.” The concept, initiated by Gene Simmons, centered upon a young boy’s rite of passage, a heroic life’s journey through personal discovery, doubt, and ultimate self-realization.

 

 
At some point during the lengthy sessions for Elder, a phone call was placed to the King of New York. This upbeat quote from Paul Stanley doesn’t make it sound like Lou’s contribution to the project was, shall we say, labor-intensive:

Lou was so into our “Elder” project, that when we called and explained it over the phone to him, he said, “I’ll get back to you in an hour”. And he called back an hour later with good basic lyrics to “Mr Blackwell”, “World Without Heroes”, and a lot of other stuff that hasn’t been used yet.

I think the finest of the album’s three Lou songs is “Dark Light,” which wound up on the B-side of the first single, but then I’m partial to Ace Frehley. The A-side of the first single was reserved for “A World Without Heroes.” Now, if Lou Reed spent more than ten minutes writing this turkey, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Below, KISS humiliate themselves on the ABC cult comedy series Fridays.
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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01.23.2015
09:04 am
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The story of KISS’s Ace Frehley and his (former) ultimate fan
12.29.2014
11:55 am
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Don’t ask me how (or why) I happened to stumble across this oddly fascinating narrative of how Ace Frehley tribute band leader Bill Baker first idolized and then became buddies with the original KISS guitarist… but I did. Baker is a luthier—guitar craftsman—and formerly the head honcho of Fractured Mirror, a Frehley-flavored tribute act.

I don’t really want to say too much about this, and I think it speaks for itself, other than to say that this story would make a good indie film or an even better Peter Bagge graphic novel. Bill Baker self-published a book, Ace Frehley: The Ultimate Fan Scrapbook which is nearly sold out. You can buy it at his website, which features all manner of Ace Frehley memorabilia and videos.

These two clips, from a documentary titled KISS Loves You, tell the story of how Bill and Ace met and… what happened next.

The good times:
 

 
The aftermath, after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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12.29.2014
11:55 am
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