Music and bands have always provided the perfect subject for me to write about. Both have been a passion of mine since earliest childhood. When it comes to answering the question of who is my favorite band and why, there can only be one answer. For me, that band will always be KISS. As far as I am concerned, they win the contest hands down. They have been a part of my life ever since I was very young, and they’ve given me so many great memories that I’ve lost count of them. I could probably fill a novel trying to tell you why they mean so much to me, but I will try to keep it brief.
First of all, they wrote great songs! That is why their career has lasted for more than 35 years now. Let’s face it, a band would never survive as long as KISS has if their songs were bad. However, it is more than just good songs that made KISS great. They have always believed in giving the audience more. They are willing to do anything short of killing themselves to put on a great show. They really want the fans to get their money’s worth when they buy a ticket to one of their shows. On stage, they are one of the most visually entertaining groups working today. Breathing fire, flying through the air on wires, a levitating drum kit, and guitars that shoot rockets and belch smoke; these are just a few of the eye-popping stunts that one is treated to during a KISS concert.
I also love that they are a completely unique and original group. No other band looks like them; no other band sounds like them. Their elaborate costumes, kabuki style makeup, and bombastic stage shows completely set them apart from all other bands. KISS is the rock & roll equivalent of the circus. Everything about them is larger-than-life. Their concerts are nothing less than an all-out assault on the senses; this band lives for the opportunity to make a complete and utter spectacle of themselves, and they do just that with every performance! I can guarantee that anyone who sees them in concert will never forget the experience.
There are so many examples that I could give to illustrate just how different they were from any other rock band that has ever existed. They were the first band to ever have a live concert album that was truly successful (Kiss ALIVE!, 1975). Before this, very few artists had ever had success with live recordings; they simply didn’t sell. When their double-live album was successful, it began a trend in the music industry, paving the way for others to have success with the format. Afterward, many artists released similar live records; there was Frampton Comes Alive, Cheap Trick At Budokan, and a slew of others.
They were also the first band to make effective use of merchandising to promote their music. Their image was so unique that they were able to create toys, games, and even their own pinball machine! In fact, there are now more than 2,500 products that bear the KISS name. There is toilet paper, condoms, fragrances for both men and women, and even a KISS casket! OK, so that last one is a bit over the line for most fans, but it does exist nonetheless! They made a television film, and even had a comic book series created by Marvel comics! The two issues that were printed in 1978 are now collectors items.
Although many people feel that the merchandising has gotten way out of control, the whole thing began very innocently. In the mid-to-late seventies, the band started to put little surprises inside of their albums. Whenever a fan would open a record, they had a good chance of finding some little extra inside…like posters, stickers, temporary tattoos, iron-on patches, or any number of other things. After KISS was successful doing this, it became standard practice for other artists of the time.
As if all of that were not enough, their enormous success has allowed them to play a major role in bringing new bands to the forefront. Almost every band that they bring on tour with them as an opening act, goes on to become a well known act in their own right. There are so many that it would be nearly impossible to list them all, but just a few of them include The Scorpions, Poison, and Slaughter, all of whom had their first major tour opening for KISS. In addition, they also discovered and produced many new bands in the studio. Most notable among them was Gene Simmons’ discovery of Van Halen in 1978.
Through the years, the band has had their share of critics; there have always been naysayers who claim that there is no substance to the music, and KISS has made a career out of gimmicks. Well, all I can say to them is that they’d better not make that statement in front of a loyal fan, because they are likely to have their head taken off! Besides, all you have to do is a little research about KISS to discover that their impressive list of accomplishments really speak for themselves. From 1976 to 1979, they were the highest-grossing concert act on the planet. They set attendance records everywhere they played, even surpassing The Beatles attendance record in Japan, by selling out seven consecutive shows at Budokan in 1977.
To date, they have sold more than one hundred million albums worldwide, and they are second only to The Beatles in the number of gold and platinum records by any band in history! Also, their longevity alone is the most impressive of their accomplishments. Let’s face it, sustaining a successful career in the music business for 35 years is no simple task! These are such remarkable achievements that they must be respected, even by those who don’t like the band’s music!