When it comes to popular American rock bands, Kiss ranks among the top and has done for decades. Easily identified by its members' face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group’s fame rose to prominence in the mid 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances. Kiss was named 10th, by VH1, on their list of the '100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock and 9th on 'The Greatest Metal Bands' list by MTV.
Kiss is a New York City-based rock and roll band led by co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. The band was formed in 1973. Originally in 1971, both Simmons and Stanley were involved in the band Wicked Lester. The band recorded one album, which was shelved by Epic Records, and played a handful of live shows. Simmons and Stanley felt that a new musical direction was needed and therefore left the group in 1972.
In late 1972, Simmons and Stanley came across an advertisement placed by Peter Criss, a drummer from the New York scene. Criss auditioned and ended up joining a new version of Wicked Lester. By January 1973, the group added guitarist Ace Frehley. A few weeks after, the band became officially known as Kiss.
The band managed to secure a record deal and also gained a reputation for their live performances. In 1974, the band released two albums titled Kiss and Hotter Than Hell. Both barely charted in America and soon fell off the top 100.
By late 1975, the band’s label Casablanca was almost bankrupt and Kiss was in danger of losing their record contract. The band decided to record a live album. Kiss wanted to express the excitement felt at their concerts with their first live album, much like Slade’s 1972 album Slade Alive!
Released in late 1975 and titled just like Slade’s album, Alive! achieved Gold status and led to Kiss's first top 40 single, a live version of "Rock and Roll All Nite." Apparently in recent years the band admitted that additional audience noise had been added to the album, not to deceive fans, but to add more "excitement and realism" to the show whereas Slade recorded their Alive! album and kept it almost exactly as it originally sounded to add to the atmosphere. It is only too obvious that Kiss were heavily influenced by Slade Alive!
The success of Alive! not only brought Kiss the breakthrough they had been seeking, but arguably saved Casablanca. Following this success, Kiss released their fourth album Destroyer which was another success. The band continued to release and tour with success. More album releases such as Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun and Alive II were met with big success.
By 1978, it was decided that to continue the popularity of Kiss, each member of the band would released their own solo albums. All four solo albums made it into the Top 50 of the Billboard chart. The other idea was for the band to appear in a movie. Much like how Slade released their 1975 movie Flame, Kiss released Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. The band has admitted they were unhappy with the result although it was one of the highest-rated TV movies of the year.
The band released another studio album titled Dynasty by 1979 which continued their success. The band had not toured since early 1978 and had not released an album since 1977. Billed as "The Return of Kiss," the Dynasty Tour saw a marked decline in attendance.
By the end of the Dynasty tour in December 1979, tensions between drummer Criss and the rest of the band were high. His drumming skills had noticeably eroded, and he even intentionally slowed down or stopped playing altogether during some concerts. He was no longer an official member of Kiss half a year later. In 1980, the band released a new studio album titled Unmasked which although Criss appeared on the cover, all drumming was recorded by session Anton Fig. The album saw a decline in commercial success and only peaked at #35, their worst charting since 1974.
In 1981, new drummer Eric Carr joined the band and a new studio album was set to be created. Early press reports indicated that the new album would be a return to the hard rock style that had originally brought the band success. What was released instead was 1981's Music from "The Elder", a concept album featuring medieval horns, strings, harps, and synthesizers. The album was to be a soundtrack to a film which was never made, making the album hard to understand. Negative response followed and the album only peaked at #75 on the Billboard chart.
Guitarist Ace Frehley had become increasingly frustrated with Kiss's new musical direction. Another source of frustration for Frehley was that with the departure of Peter Criss. In June 1982, Frehley's departure from the band was negotiated, although he did not officially leave until December. Although Frehley had already decided to leave the band, he was pictured on the cover of 1982's Creatures of the Night, although he did not participate in the recording of the album. The album peaked at #45 which whilst being an improvement, the band were still not as popular as the band had hoped.
What links very much into the Glam Metal scene was the band’s return to true fame in 1983. Quiet Riot had released their album Metal Health in early 1983 which peaked at #1 on the album chart. This album was mainly supported by a cover of Slade’s 1973 European hit Cum on Feel The Noize. The album opened the door for many glam metal bands including Twisted Sister, Motley Crue and Kiss. Kiss already fitted into the glam style with their flamboyant image.
By late 1983, the band had found a new guitarist Vinnie Vincent and released Lick It Up. The album was a big success, peaking at a healthy #24. Afterwards, the band released 1984’s Animalize, 1985’s Asylum and 1987’s Crazy Nights which all peaked in the top 20 of the album charts. The band has maintained commercial success to this very day.
Whilst there were many connections and similarities between Slade and Kiss, nothing proved how important Slade were than when members from the band praised Slade as their greatest influence.
"Slade was certainly our greatest influence; not only in the crafting of rock songs but also as performers. Before Slade, no one really knew shit about how to make an audience riot. We really got off on that. There would probably never have been us without them and when I look at the greatest hits section by Sweet, or Slade, or any other of my favourite bands, there are TONS of compilation records."
It is also said that the band modelled their first hit Rock and Roll All Nite after being inspired by the Slade song Cum on Feel the Noize. Rock and Roll All Nite is now said to be the Rock And Roll National Anthem, at least for America.
"The one we kept returning to was Slade.... we liked the way they connected with the crowd, and the way they wrote anthems.... we wanted that same energy, that same irresistible simplicity. but we wanted it American-style".
Gene Simmons: Kiss and Make-Up
"When Slade were supporting Kiss in the States, Noddy approached Gene Simmons and Gene asked Noddy for his autograph!" I'd love to substantiate this claim?