FOLLOW US ON:
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
The surprising origins of the KISS merchandising machine that generated $100 million in the 1970s
07.20.2018
10:20 am
Topics:
Tags:

Poster
 
It’s a common misconception that the band KISS had a master plan from their earliest beginnings. We recently told you how the marketing of the group evolved, and that no one connected to KISS knew what to do with them in their early years. There have also been assumptions that merchandising was part of the KISS blueprint. In reality, the idea of KISS products didn’t occur to anyone in the group or close to them until they had their first hit. Even then, no one could have predicted just how much money KISS merchandise would generate by the end of the 1970s.

In his autobiography, ‘Face the Music: A Life Exposed, Paul Stanley writes that, in the beginning, he and his fellow band members in KISS were “clueless about merchandising.” Stanley credits the idea of selling KISS products to their manager, Bill Aucoin. It was Aucoin who, after the initial success of KISS’s double live album, Alive! (1975), presented the group with their very first piece of merchandise: A tour program.
 
Program 1
 

Bill Aucoin always saw the bigger picture. He could tell that we connected with our fans in a way that far exceeded the norm. He grasped the extent to which people would respond to us beyond the music: he understood the potential of merchandising.

When I first saw the tour program Bill created for the later stages of the Alive tour, I had never seen anything like it. He never told us he was going to do it. He just showed up one day and said, “Here’s the tour program.” After paging through its twenty-four pages, I thought it was terrific. Bill also thought—and was quickly proved correct—that our fans would want t-shirts and belt buckles. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. He founded an in-house merchandising company together with a guy named Ron Boutwell. Initially, the company fulfilled orders from our fan club. Bill just announced it to us, very matter-of-factly: “We’re going to start marketing merchandise.”

It could not have happened without Bill. (from ‘Face the Music: A Life Exposed’)

The KISS ON TOUR—1976 program debuted at KISS’s January 25, 1976 at Cobo Hall in Detroit. A fitting location, as Detroit was full of rabid KISS fans, the first city to wholly embrace the group. The program included a KISS ARMY membership form, as well as a merchandise form.
 
Program 9
 
Program 10
 
As KISS’s popularity increased and the money started rolling in from merchandise sales, more and more KISS products were made available. Official KISS merchandise included lunchboxes, radios, model vans, kid guitars, jewelry, watches, Colorform sets, Halloween costumes, jigsaw puzzles, sleeping bags, garbage cans, and a board game.
 
Wrapper
Trading cards wrapper, 1978.
 
Belt buckles
Belt buckles, 1977.
 
Pinball machine
Pinball machine, 1979.

Beginning with Alive!, KISS albums usually included a free item of some sort such as a poster, sticker or booklet—gifts, one might say, from the group to its fans, furthering the connection between band and audience. It also became standard to find a merchandise form inside a KISS LP.
 
Solo albums
The 1978 KISS solo albums, with interlocking posters and merchandise order forms for each member.

Between 1977 and 1979, KISS grossed $100 million from merchandise sales. By the end of the decade, KISS’s popularity had waned in the States—partially attributed to the public’s negative reaction to merchandising excess—so the focus was shifted to other markets. In November 1980, KISS went Down Under as part of their overseas Unmasked tour, where they were greeted with a Beatle mania-like reception. Dozens of KISS products were available in Australia during that time, though many of them failed to sell. KISS could see that writing on the wall, with Gene Simmons telling a Melbourne reporter, “We’re now taking a couple steps back from the merchandising.” Unmasked would be the last U.S. KISS album released during the period to include a merchandise order form and a tchotchke.
 
Tattoos
The temporary tattoos that came with Alive II, 1977.

Fast-forward to 1996: The original four members reunite and put the makeup back on, resulting in a massively successful world tour. KISS was back—and so was the merchandise. New KISS products glutted the marketplace, with even more types of merchandise than in their ‘70s heyday. Once again, this contributed to their overexposure, and the general public quickly moved on. But there was still a market for KISS merchandise, and new items continue to appear to this day. The KISS logo and the likenesses of the Starchild, the Catman, the Space Ace, and the Demon have appeared on virtually every product imaginable.
 
More KISS merch, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Bart Bealmear
|
07.20.2018
10:20 am
|
KISS comes ‘Alive!’: How to market a band of superheroes
05.04.2018
09:22 am
Topics:
Tags:

Alive II booklet
 
After the first three KISS studio LPs failed to sell, album #4 was a do or die situation for the band and their label, Casablanca Records. The company had sunk a ton of money into the group, but had little to show for it. They were so broke, they couldn’t afford to make royalty payments, forcing KISS to borrow money to stay afloat. By mid-1975, attendance for KISS concerts was on the upswing, but that wasn’t reflected in album sales. During Halloween night 1975, Casablanca president, Neil Bogart, and his vice president, Larry Harris, took Bogart’s children trick-or-treating, and saw one kid after another made up to look like their favorite member of KISS. Despite KISS’s lack of commercial success, there was certainly something brewing in the zeitgeist.
 
Kids
 
Though the members of KISS each have their own unique makeup and costumes, highlighting their personas hadn’t initially occurred to the band or anyone else in their orbit. In a TV commercial for the band’s second record, Hotter Than Hell (1974), they’re referred to as “the demons of rock,” depicted more as a marauding gang than as an group of intriguing individuals.
 

 
After KISS’s third LP, Dressed to Kill (1975), didn’t make much of an impact, it was decided that rather than go back into the studio, the group would record a live record. For a number of reasons, this was a risky proposition. Live albums generally weren’t big sellers at the time, and they acted as a kind of live greatest hits, but KISS didn’t have any hits. The release would be a double album housed in a gatefold sleeve with a booklet, adding to the manufacturing costs, which the label could scarcely afford. With band and record company hemorrhaging money, if Alive! tanked it had the very real potential of sinking both Casablanca and KISS.
 
First promo photo
Their earliest promo photo.

For the first time, an advertising agency was hired to design the packaging for a KISS album, and Dennis Woloch at Howard Marks Advertising was given the task. In the book, Shout It out Loud: The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, Woloch talks about the inclusion of handwritten messages from KISS pictured on the inside of the Alive! gatefold:

I don’t remember if it was me or Bill [Aucoin, KISS’s manager] who came up with the idea, but the image of KISS was just starting to form. We told those guys, ‘You’re different characters. You each have your own persona. How about writing a little personal note to the fans from each of you?’ And they said, ‘Yeah, sure, fine.’ They just went along with everything in those days, because they weren’t hot shit yet.

More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Bart Bealmear
|
05.04.2018
09:22 am
|
KISS fans pay premium to see unimaginably sad Gene and Ace guitar dick-around
03.16.2018
08:21 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
The boys are playing but they just can’t find the sound.

KISS fans—I mean die-hard high-rankers in the KISS ARMY—are a very forgiving lot, and there’s something to be said for a band that can generate generations of such zealous fans that will defend every dicey step from, say, Music From The Elder to KISS Rock And Brews restaurant to fake stand-ins for Peter and Ace. These hardcores will think nothing of paying a thousand dollar ticket to go on a KISS Kruise, or spending $2000 for a 38-pound box set of Gene Simmons solo tracks (insert Gene Simmons voiceover: “Now available at Gene Simmons Vault Dot Com.”)

Some of these fans recently ordered the said Gene Simmons Vault Experience boxset, paying the premium to have the set (or sets) hand-delivered by Gene himself. This in-person meet-and-greet/hangout, according to Simmons’ website costs $50,000. We are assuming that the video recording posted below would have cost some fan or fans the full asking price, unless there was some sort of deal negotiated—but we all know what a shrewd businessman Mr. Simmons is.

The KISS fans assembled here got, what would ostensibly be a very special treat—an acoustic jam session with both Gene and (estranged KISS member) Ace Frehley. Unfortunately, what is actually on display here is the worst guitar dick-around imaginable. Picture those dudes you knew from your dorm in college who would get together to fart around on acoustic guitars but they could never actually get in the same key or play an entire song together and it would just annoy the piss out of everyone—except those 2 dudes are almost 70 (and used to be in the hottest band in the world.)
 

 
Quite simply, Gene and Ace can’t get their shit together on this—at all. Well, Gene has his shit together a bit more because he’s been a performing musician non-stop for over 40 years—Ace, on the other hand, seems to have a rough go of it. Part of this could be blamed on the fact that the instrument and amp provided could not give him the sustain offered by distortion. Watching this video, you’d never guess these guys had EVER played in a band together. The pair attempts to fumble their way through some Who, Stones, and Beatles covers in addition to fucking up their own songs. To say that this is merely “bad” is an understatement. It’s a straight-up embarrassment, but something tells me the fans gathered for this did not mind one bit. KISS fans, like I said, are very forgiving. The fans probably did, at the very least, enjoy the cordial rapport between Gene and Ace—somewhat surprising given the fact that Gene has said a lot of un-nice things about Ace in print over the years.

Gene has said in interviews throughout KISS’ career that his mission was to provide the best show imaginable to his fans and to give them their money’s worth. And, certainly, KISS in their heyday always did that. But one must wonder if the idea of mortality is catching up with Mr. Simmons and he’s realizing that his chances for one last great cash-grab are dwindling. Because the performance in this video is certainly not worth $50,000.

You be the judge, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Christopher Bickel
|
03.16.2018
08:21 am
|
KISS prove, yet again, that they are the biggest assholes in rock
01.08.2018
09:24 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
A 2012 South American television interview with KISS has recently surfaced in which the band demands an embarrassed journalist to remove his Iron Maiden t-shirt before interviewing them.

We’ve come to expect such extreme assholism from Gene, but Paul actually starts this one off by refusing to answer the first question, but instead chastising the interviewer, “KISS is spelled K-I-S-S, (points at interviewer’s Iron Maiden shirt) this does not spell KISS, Gustavo. You made a big mistake.”

The interviewer defends his sartorial choice, saying “I picked this shirt to interview you guys… it’s not cool to wear a KISS shirt to a KISS interview.”

The band disagrees, with Gene chiming in “I don’t want him wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt,” and then demands that the interviewer wear the shirt inside-out.

The members of KISS seem to be so far up their own asses with their branding, that they treat the interviewer as if he had worn a Burger King t-shirt to an interview with the CEO of McDonald’s. The fake Peter Criss, who believes bands are like sports teams, later adds: “If you went to a Raider’s game, you wouldn’t wear the other team’s uniform.”

The members of KISS apparently have missed the difference between fandom and corporate sponsorship. One could argue that the band is playing around here, but they come off as quite serious and the interviewer is obviously embarrassed about the situation, though he tried to remain professional and play it off. They are literally telling other people what they can or cannot wear JUST TO SPEAK TO THEM.

Paul condescendingly chides the interviewer: “Gustavo is very smaaart. ‘How I get a KISS t-shirt for free?’ You show up with the wrong t-shirt.” 

Gene says “He don’t understand,” with the interviewer replying “I do, I do,” to which Gene retorts insultingly, “you’re twelve, you’re new.”

Paul tells the journalist that “you’re in our house” and that he “doesn’t show respect.”

“We also have a t-shirt that says ‘I don’t understand,’ you can wear that,” adds Gene.

Gene then makes the interviewer take his shirt off and turn it inside out before the fake Peter Criss comes along with a XXXL KISS shirt that they force Guatavo to wear.

Aside from Sharon’s dancing circus bear act, Ozzy, no other band holds a candle to the grandiose legacy-pissing done by KISS.
 
Watch it, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Christopher Bickel
|
01.08.2018
09:24 am
|
Kids dressed up for Halloween like Prince, Adam Ant, KISS, & even a baby Björk
10.16.2017
11:32 am
Topics:
Tags:


A kid version of Adam Ant in his “Prince Charming” getup. Awww.
 
Halloween is nearly upon us, and that means that it is also the only time of year that you get a pass for letting your toddler hold a bottle of Jack Daniels because it happens to be part of their “costume.” If your kid is still a baby, they, of course, have no real say in the Halloween costume decision-making process, mostly because they can’t yet express themselves verbally, which leaves you to dress your said baby like Björk when she made her famous red-carpet appearance at the 2001 Academy Awards in a dress made to look like a swan (created by designer Marjan Pejoski). You wouldn’t be the first parent to do so—and I’ve got photographic proof of that.

This post was inspired by my discovery of one of Glasgow’s coolest inhabitants, photographer, and lecturer Simon Murphy who delights in helping dress up his two daughters as various musical icons such as Janis Joplin, or the alcohol-swilling vocalist for The Pogues, Shane MacGowan. To achieve an authentic look based on MacGowan’s notorious dental problems, Murphy used cake icing that had been colored black to mimic his infamous mouth-full-of-decaying-teeth “smile.”  As a child of the 80s, I spent a lot of time dressing up like Ace Frehley from KISS along with every other kid that liked to rock and roll all night—so I had to include some choice, vintage images of the youngest members of the KISS Army all dressed up to trick or treat. Now, in honor of our Lord and savior The Great Pumpkin, check out the photos of kids looking cooler than we ever did dressed up as rock stars ranging from Angus Young, to our dearly departed Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie, that I’ve posted below.
 

Baby Björk FTW!
 

A mini-version of Prince.
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Cherrybomb
|
10.16.2017
11:32 am
|
Calf born on July 28 looks exactly like Gene Simmons of KISS
08.01.2017
09:12 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
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
|
08.01.2017
09:12 am
|
Klassic KISS megapost: KISS annihilate the senses with explosive live versions of ‘Firehouse’
07.17.2017
10:25 am
Topics:
Tags:

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…

READ ON
Posted by Bart Bealmear
|
07.17.2017
10:25 am
|
KISS is selling air guitar strings!
02.10.2017
08:57 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
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
|
02.10.2017
08:57 am
|
KISS, Sparks, & rock ‘n’ roller coasters: The legendary ‘Magic Mountain’ theme park of the 1970’s
01.11.2017
12:21 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
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…

READ ON
Posted by Doug Jones
|
01.11.2017
12:21 pm
|
‘Back in the New York groove’: Say hello to 70s UK teenage glam rockers Hello
11.16.2016
10:38 am
Topics:
Tags:


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
|
11.16.2016
10:38 am
|
Pinball machine featuring the Stones, Elton John, The Who, AC/DC, KISS and many more
09.06.2016
10:17 am
Topics:
Tags:

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
|
09.06.2016
10:17 am
|
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
Topics:
Tags:


 
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
|
05.24.2016
09:35 am
|
KISS 1975 vs KISS in 2015: Do they owe it to their fans to remain ‘cool’?
12.03.2015
04:00 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
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
|
12.03.2015
04:00 pm
|
This is SO Spinal Tap: Insane poker-faced documentary about an all Ace Frehley KISS tribute band!
12.02.2015
03:42 pm
Topics:
Tags:


 
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
|
12.02.2015
03:42 pm
|
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
|
08.14.2015
11:12 am
|
Page 1 of 3  1 2 3 >