In early January , the group added lead guitarist Ace Frehley. Frehley impressed the group with his first audition, although he showed up wearing two different colored sneakers, one red and one orange. A few weeks after Frehley joined, the classic lineup was solidified as the band to be named Kiss. Criss mentioned that he had been in a band called Lips, so Stanley said something to the effect of "What about Kiss? Our number one rule has always been no rules. The letters happened to look similar to the insignia of the Nazi SS , a symbol that is outlawed in Germany by Section 86a of the German criminal code.
However, Simmons and Stanley, both Jewish, have denied any intentional likeness to Nazi symbolism in the logo. Since , most of the band's album covers and merchandise in Germany have used an alternate logo, in which the letters "SS" look like the letters "ZZ" backwards. The band's name has repeatedly been the subject of rumors pertaining to alleged hidden meanings. Simmons has denied all of these claims.
The first Kiss performance was on January 30, , for an audience of three at the Popcorn Club renamed Coventry shortly afterward in Queens. For the first three gigs, January 30 to February 1, they wore little to no makeup; the iconic makeup designs associated with Kiss made their debut during the March 9—10 shows at The Daisy in Amityville, New York. On March 13 of that year, the band recorded a five-song demo tape with producer Eddie Kramer.
Former TV director Bill Aucoin , who had seen the group at a handful of showcase concerts in the summer of , offered to become the band's manager in mid-October. Kiss agreed, with the condition that Aucoin sign the band to a record label within two weeks. On November 1, , Kiss became the first act signed to former teen pop singer and Buddah Records executive Neil Bogart 's new label, Casablanca Records. It was at this concert that Simmons accidentally set his hair which was coated in hairspray ablaze for the first of many times while performing his fire-breathing routine.
Casablanca and Kiss promoted the album heavily throughout the spring and summer of This broadcast included Simmons's first televised interview, a conversation with Mike Douglas in which Simmons declared himself "evil incarnate", eliciting uncomfortable reactions from a confused studio audience. Fellow Jewish-American guest Totie Fields said it would be humorous if beneath all the make-up Simmons was "just a nice Jewish boy ". Simmons responded, "You should only know", to which Fields replied, "I do.
You can't hide the hook ", a reference to the stereotypical "Jewish" nose. Despite the publicity and constant touring, Kiss initially sold just 75, copies. Meanwhile, the group and Casablanca Records were losing money quickly. The band while touring stopped in Los Angeles in August to begin recording their second album, Hotter Than Hell , which was released on October 22, With Hotter Than Hell quickly dropping off the charts, Kiss was pulled from their tour to quickly record a new album. Casablanca head Bogart stepped in to produce the next album, trading in the murky, distorted sound of Hotter Than Hell for a cleaner and slightly poppier sound.
Dressed to Kill , released on March 19, , fared slightly better commercially than Hotter Than Hell. It also contained what later became the band's signature song, " Rock and Roll All Nite ".
Although Kiss albums had not proved to be big sellers, the band was quickly gaining a reputation for their live performances. Kiss concerts featured such spectacles as Simmons spitting "blood" an effect made primarily from raw egg whites, strawberry syrup and red food coloring and "breathing fire" spitting flammable liquid at a torch , Frehley soloing as his guitar burst into flames light and smoke bombs placed inside the guitar , Criss's elevating drum riser that emitted sparks, Stanley's Townshend -style guitar smashing, and pyrotechnics throughout the show.
By mid, Casablanca was almost bankrupt, and Kiss was in danger of losing their record contract. Both parties desperately needed a commercial breakthrough if they were to survive. Kiss wanted to express the excitement felt at their concerts which their studio albums had so far failed to do with their first live album. It was the first version of the song with a guitar solo, and this recording has become the best-known version. It is also the basis of most covers, such as the cover by Poison in In recent years the band admitted that additional audience noise had been added to the album, as well as overdubs on select guitar and vocal spots, not to deceive fans, but to add more "excitement and realism" to the record.
The success of Alive! Following this success, Kiss partnered with producer Bob Ezrin , who had previously worked with Alice Cooper. The result was Destroyer released March 15, , Kiss's most musically ambitious studio album to date. Destroyer , with its rather intricate production using an orchestra, choir, and numerous tape effects , was a departure from the raw sound of the first three studio albums. Album art was designed by Ken Kelly , who had drawn Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian and also produced album covers for acts such as Rainbow and Manowar.
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Only when the ballad " Beth ", the B-side to the single " Detroit Rock City ", began to gain more airplay on FM radio did the album's sales rebound. The single was subsequently reissued with the A and B-sides reversed. The show, co-produced by Bill Aucoin, helped introduce Kiss to an even wider audience. In addition to the three songs, Kiss was the subject of a brief comedic "interview" conducted by Paul Lynde. This included Lynde noting, when hearing the member's first names, "Oh, I love a good religious group.
Two more highly successful studio albums were released in less than a year: Rock and Roll Over November 11, and Love Gun June 30, A second live album, Alive II , was released on October 14, All three albums were certified platinum soon after their release.
In Japan, Kiss performed five sold-out shows at Tokyo's Budokan Hall , breaking the previous record of four held by the Beatles. In May , Kiss made their first of many comics appearances in Howard the Duck issue 12, published by Marvel Comics. The first Kiss compilation album, Double Platinum , was issued on April 2, This double album included many remixed versions of their hits, as well as "Strutter '78", a re-recorded version of a song from the group's first album.
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At Bogart's request, this version of the song featured a disco influence. During this period, Kiss merchandise became a substantial source of income for the group. Some of the products released included a pair of comic books issued by Marvel the first contained ink mixed with actual blood donated by the group , a pinball machine, dolls, "Kiss Your Face Makeup" kits, Halloween masks, board games , lunchboxes, trading cards and many other pieces of memorabilia.
Membership in the Kiss Army , the band's fan club, was in the six figures. Kiss were at their commercial peak by To that end, an ambitious, two-pronged strategy was devised for The first part involved the simultaneous release of four solo albums from the members of Kiss.
Although Kiss has claimed that the solo albums were intended to ease rising tensions within the band, their record contract did in fact call for four solo records, with each of them counting as half an album toward the group's five-record commitment.
fenikschel.com/profiles/148.php It was the first time that all current members of a rock band had released solo albums on the same day. For the band members, it was a chance to showcase their individual musical styles and tastes outside of Kiss, and in some cases to collaborate with contemporary artists. Simmons' was the most diverse of the four, featuring hard rock, ballads, Beatles -influenced pop and a cover of " When You Wish upon a Star " from the Disney film Pinocchio.
The solo albums were released on September 18, Of the four, Frehley's album was the most successful, and spawned the only hit single, a cover of " New York Groove ", written by Russ Ballard and originally performed by Hello. The second part of Kiss' and Aucoin's plan called for the band to appear in a film that would cement their image as larger-than-life rock and roll superheroes. Filming commenced in the spring of Although the project was proposed to the band as a cross between A Hard Day's Night and Star Wars , the final result fell far short of those expectations.
The script underwent numerous rewrites, and the band particularly Criss and Frehley grew increasingly frustrated with the filmmaking process. It was released theatrically, after many changes, outside the U. The band members were unhappy with the finished film, and would speak about their filmmaking experience in later interviews with a mix of humorous embarrassment and regret. They felt that the film portrayed them more as clowns than superheroes. The artistic failure of the film led to a rift between the band and Aucoin.
Kiss' first album of new material in two years, Dynasty May 22, , continued its platinum streak. Session drummer Anton Fig did almost all the percussion on the album while Criss recovered from an automobile accident.
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The only song to feature Criss' drumming was "Dirty Livin ' ", on which he also sang lead. Billed as "The Return of Kiss", the Dynasty Tour was expected by Kiss and their management to build on the success of previous tours. Plans were drawn up for a Kiss-themed traveling amusement park called "Kiss World", but were abandoned because of the immense costs involved;  however, "The Return of Kiss" saw a marked decline in attendance. The crowds on this tour were much younger than previous audiences had been, with many preadolescent children in Kiss make-up with their mothers and fathers who were sometimes wearing the make-up themselves in tow at most concerts.
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Kiss themselves did little to dissuade this new fan base, donning colorful costumes that reinforced a cartoonish image for these younger fans. The fans were unaware of the dissension within the band. One very public indication of the heightened friction within the group was an infamous October 31, , interview on Tom Snyder 's late-night The Tomorrow Show.
During the episode, a visibly irritated Simmons and Stanley attempted, unsuccessfully, to contain the inebriated Frehley, whose frequent laughter and joking overshadowed the conversation between Snyder and the rest of the band. Criss made references to his large gun collection, to the chagrin of Simmons.