KISS FAQ (paperback)
by Dale Sherman
Since it's getting close to KISS being inducted in
The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame this post
is suitable for the occasion.
Since it's getting close to KISS being inducted in
The Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame this post
is suitable for the occasion.
There are a number of these FAQ books out. I posted
The Doors FAQ on February 23, 2014. There is even a Three
Stooges FAQ that I bought for my brother last Christmas.
Some of the other FAQ titles are Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin,
Fab Four, Beach Boys, U2, Pink Floyd, and Neil Young.
Stooges FAQ that I bought for my brother last Christmas.
Some of the other FAQ titles are Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin,
Fab Four, Beach Boys, U2, Pink Floyd, and Neil Young.
These books are done by different authors.
KISS FAQ is more like a coffee table book.
It has some interesting facts but not as good as
the KISS Behind The Mask book.
Alice Cooper is talked about quite a bit which
I pulled out of this book. Eric Singer, Bob Ezrin and Dick Wagner
are also mentioned but I just picked out the ones which
Alice Cooper's name is mentioned as well.
No pics of Alice Cooper in this book.
History of Stage Name: By the early 1970s. Simmons was beginning to get
work doing background vocals on songs for other artists (Lyn Christopher and
Tommyjames to name a couple of verified examples). His name appears in the
credits of the 1972 Lyn Christopher album as Gene Simmons, so he had been
using it for a time by that point.
Simmons has told variations of how he came up with the name and actu-
ally dismisses it as simply one he thought would look good for rock ‘n’ roll in
his autobiography. One of the most common versions was that he thought it
would throw people a bit in that it sounded like famed actress Jean Simmons,
and perhaps turn a few heads that way, just as Alice Cooper would get people
thinking they were going to see a folksinger and instead got five greasy-looking
guys playing demented rock music. (Jean Simmons’s reaction to the hoped-for
confusion was to find it amusing when she got fan letters from boys who wanted
to know more about her tongue.) However, there is more evidence that he based
the name on that of early rockabilly singer “Jumpin” Gene Simmons, who had
an early rock ‘n’ roll hit with “Haunted House” in 1964. Simmons has sometimes
even referred to himself as “Jumpin”’ Gene Simmons, and an interview with the
rockabilly star from 1998 (Rocktober, issue #22) stated that the two had talked and
the KISS fronunan admitted he picked the name after reading about “Jumpin”
in an issue of Rolling Stone magazine.
Early Career: Singer began playing drums when he was eleven, typically help-
ing with performances done by his father, a jazz musician who had worked with
Perry Como, among others. In 1983, Singer moved from Ohio to Los Angeles
in hopes of getting work as a professional drummer. After working with a band
called Icebreaker and doing some video work as a drummer for a Playboy
special, he signed up to tour with Lita Ford. After the tour, he began working
with Black Sabbath leader Tony lommi (who had been dating Ford at the time)
and stayed with Black Sabbath for two and a half years and two albums (the 1986
Seventh Star and 1987 Eternal Idol).
After touring with Gary Moore in 1987 and doing some session work for
the bands Drive and the Cult, Singer became involved with Badland. He stuck
with this band until 1990 when he split over personal differences. While with
Badland, he ran into Dennis St. James, who was about to go on a short solo tour
with Paul Stanley in l989. As Stanley was looking for a drummer on the tour,
Singer was brought in following the suggestion of St. James. The break from
Badland found Singer immediately back on his feet when he signed to take over
on drums for Alice Cooper in l990 - a gig he would repeat for Alice many times
over the following years.
When KISS decided they needed to start recording the 1991 album Revenge.
Eric Carr was dealing with health issues related to his cancer that made it a bad
idea for him to play drums. Remembering Eric Singer, Paul Stanley invited him
to help out for a time while they began work on the album, with Simmons telling
him that he would only be needed until Eric Carr recovered. As it happened,
Singer played on nearly the entire album and found himself becoming an official
member of the band that year as well. He would continue with them until l996.
and then bounce back for a bit before rejoining them on a permanent basis
.... Kiss (although he is not playing the drums on the recording, he appears in
video as the drummer). While he did not do any official recordings with Lita
Ford or Garry Moore when touring with them, he was very much involved in
their demos and the finished recordings done for the two Black Sabbath albums
from 1986 and 1987. Some demo work for Drive and the Cult came next and
then the Badland album of 1989. After playing drums on Bill Ward’s Ward One
album (released in 1990), Singer popped up next on a live album for Alice
Cooper before working on the Revenge album for KISS and then becoming an
official member of the band.
(Evenspotspeaks: Chapter when KISS name change from Wicked Lester)
The legend goes that the band started as Rainbow in 1970, played one gig under
that name, then switched to Wicked Lester until after Peter Criss joined the band
...with most of the musicians, including Ronnie James Dio, from a group called
EIf - but that band did not get started until 1975. However, there were definitely
other bands using Rainbow as part of their name at the time, so there was still a
determination to change the name of the band. Yet doing so because the name
was too familiar seems like a more mundane reason than if it had been due
to a bigger name like Blackmore (much like how Alice Cooper became Alice
Cooper back in the late 1960s because Todd Rundgren already had a band called
Nazz releasing albums), which is probably why the Blackmore rumor got such
circulation over the years.
Pg 33 - 34
Evenspotspeaks: This chapter talks about bands that influenced KISS
Alice Cooper Group
There had been other performers before Alice Cooper who added theater to
rock music, but none reached the level of stardom they did in the early 1970s.
Further, the Cooper group staged their performances as mini-plays, using props
to convey elements of the songs - even early on, with Alice looking out a prop
bedroom window as he sang “Nobody Likes Me” - as well as for shock value - the
infamous chicken incident of 1969, for example, where a chicken thrown into
the crowd soon turned into a bloody mess. Sometimes things were tossed around
onstage for little reason. but eventually the band got to the point where they
had a number of set-pieces to help convey a larger story of the Killer Alice, his
escapades, his execution (in a variety of manners), and his reemergence for
The members of KISS and Bill Aucoin always said two things about Alice: That
they saw KISS as a chance to have four Alice Coopers on stage, and that the best
thing that ever happened to them was the Alice Cooper group breaking up in
1974. Cooper was considered a premier American band, with a string of hit songs
and sold-out shows, but the band had been playing and recording consistently
for years by that time, and everyone needed a break from each other. Cooper
would quickly rebound on his own with the smash Welcome to My Nightmare
album in 1975, but the breakup took a band that was reaching the level of
superstardom of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles and cooled their momentum
while the audience was still hot for more. Cooper as a solo artist was still huge,
but there was a magic with the original band that could never be recaptured.
KISS took that energy built up by the Cooper band and went in their own
direction, with stage pieces involving the band members (namely Simmons,
but all four had pieces that were done in concert that became standards, like
Frehley’s smoking guitar, Criss’s levitating drum kit, and Paul smashing his
guitar). Although there were other acts that were using theatrical presentations
in their concerts at the time (notably David Bowie. Funkadelic. and Genesis.
to name a few) that the band members would have seen, the Cooper group’s
emphasis on comic-book violence would reverberate within KISS when they
began putting their shows together.
KISS pushed theatrics to a new level that would affect how rock bands would
perform ever after, but without the earlier efforts of the Alice Cooper group to
show that the audience would eat it up, it would have been much harder for
KISS to prove their case. To have Alice turn up for their first huge Casablanca
showcase to the press in 1974 stood out as a passing of the baton in a way and
another reason why KISS has always been quick to point to Alice Cooper when
discussing what influenced them as a band.
Coincidentally, just as the Alice Cooper band would break up roughly six
years after recording their first album due to constant touring and recording,
so too would the original lineup of KISS break up six years after recording their
first album due to bickering aggravated by constant touring and recording.
Paul Stanley has made no bones about his love for the Move and Roy Wood,
pointing out that “Firehouse” was him riffing on the Move’s “Fire Brigade”
among other songs with such references. (Several songs in the KISS catalog play
off riffs from other songs by Mountain, Deep Purple, etc. “Love Her All I Can”
uses a riff from the Nazz’s “Open My Eyes,” for example.) More importantly,
Wood - along with stars like the Nazz’s own Todd Rundgren, the Hello People,
Arthur Brown, Funkadelic (again), Alice Cooper (again), and others were all
experimenting with makeup as part of their album and stage work. One look at
Wood’s Wizzard’s Brew album from l973 and one cannot help but wonder if it,
along with other factors, helped formulate ideas for the band wearing makeup
The New York Band Scene in the Early l970s
People tend to look at KISS as basing their act on bigger acts they had seen. That
is partially correct, as mentioned above; for without people like Alice Cooper,
David Bowie, Elton John, Marc Bolan, and many others, KISS would have had
a harder time coming together and being even as awkwardly accepted by the
public as they were by 1974, when their first album came out.
Pg 39 - 40
Comic Books and Fantasy Movies
While other bands were trying various aspects of theater in their shows, KISS
went in a slightly different direction. No doubt based on a cue from Alice
Cooper’s act of violence and retribution, Simmons and Stanley began looking
at the band as a group of characters together instead of at a number of stunts
performed within a show. The concept went back to the days of Wicked Lester,
where Simmons was envisioning himself as a caveman while another member
would be a card shark out of an old Western.
Within the new framework of KISS, the members began to see their charac-
ters as unworldly, as if from out of a comic book or fantasy movie. Ace Frehley
quickly adapted to being a “spaceman,” even an alien from another world (his
character’s backstory was that he was from another planet and unused to the
gravity on Earth in order to explain his clumsy footing at times in concert); and
Simmons slowly morphed into some type of monster-like creature who could
spit up blood like a deranged vampire and spit fire to dazzle the crowd. By the
time the band was ready to release their first album in February 1974, they had
established a relationship with horror and science fiction movies. Album covers
like Destroyer (see Chapter 10 for more details on how closely related this artwork
was to the fantasy genre) made the band look like something out of a sword and
sorcery fantasy novel. Once they got their own superpowers in the first Marvel
comic (see Chapter 23 for more details on that and other comic book outings),
there was no way to deny that KISS had become the first superhero rock band.
Using songs on the album to compound the concept snowballed the image-
“Goin’ Blind” sounds like a song an undead demon of the night would sing to
a girl: “Rocket Ride” could be taken to be Frehley suggesting an outer-space
journey . . . even if we know it is not what he is really talking about.
KISS took theatrics and played by their own rules - even Alice Cooper would
eventually get tired of being “Killer Alice” and try variations on the theme with
onstage characters like Maurice Escargot (Lace & Whiskey) or Apocalypse Alice
from Flush the Fashion - but KISS was always these four characters, and the
personas became what the band was about. In some ways, it led to problems for
KISS redefining themselves in the 1980s, when the kids listening in 1976 felt
they had outgrown the comic books and horror stories of the band by 1980.
But for a time in the 1970s, those elements would influence the band and help
make them a household name, more so than if they had just been four guys in
makeup with no personas behind those images.
(Evenspotspeaks: How Paul Stanley came up with his iconic Starman make up)
Paul Stanley first attempted something that looked similar to Alice Cooper’s
spider eyes from the early Cooper period before attempting a star over the right
eye. He then moved on to a circle over one eye that everyone teased him about
a making him look like Pete the Dog from the old Little Rascals shorts. From
there he attempted a look that fans typically call the “Lone Ranger mask.” which
covered both eyes as the Lone Ranger’s mask did. He would flirt with this style
straight into 1974 and even be photographed in staged color photos in the early
part of 1974 while also going back and wearing his star makeup. It was then that
he decided to stick with the star from that point on.
Pg 69 - 71
“Beth” was the Moment When KISS Became Successful
(Evenspotspeaks: talks about Bob Ezrin and Alice Cooper Welcome To My Nightmare)
This brings up another misconception of the time. For some reason every-
one who worked on the album has flipped back and forth from loving the song
and demanding it be on me album to hating it and wanting it off the record.
The only ones who seemed to favor the song being on the album and have
never changed their opinion about it have been Gene Simmons and Peter Criss.
Everyone else goes back and forth, saying it was their doing that made the song
cess (Simmons is guilty of this as well, suggesting he convinced Criss to
change the song from “Beck” to “Beth,” while producer Bob Ezrin has claimed
the same), or that they fought to keep it off the album.
It was, however, the band’s first serious ballad, which is why there was con-
cern about even including it. “Goin’ Blind,” from the earlier Hotter Than Hell
album, has the heart of a ballad, but the lyrics pay off as a twisted fairy-tale for
laughs more than an attempt to emotionally connect with the listener. “Beth”
had a core topic that many could deal with because it was about work having
to take priority over home life and love. Because of those lyrics - which were
namely the work of Criss and Stan Penridge, as previous recordings prove out,
no matter what anyone says - the song connected in a way that went beyond
the anthems being hyped. The orchestration certainly moves the song along as
well, but an electric version probably would have worked just as easily, perhaps
even more so. Yet Ezrin was a master at taking an artist who was known for
savage imagery (his work with Alice Cooper was already legendary at the time)
and wringing out material that showed a softer side. Furthermore, he had
shown he could do this, make them hits, and not affect the darker aspects of
the character-driven performer he was working with (as proven by his success
with “Only Women Bleed” - reaching #12 on the Billboard charts - for Alice
Cooper on Welcome to My Nightmare the year previous). “Beth” was simply the
same for KISS.
Nor is it necessarily true that the record label wanted to bury it. True, it came
out as a B-side in the U.S.. but “Beth” was already released an an A-side in the UK
three weeks before that, which hardly seems the way to “kill” the track in order
to prove it was not a good song.
But was it something that really broke the band? As already stated, KISS was
selling millions of copies of albums before Destroyer. The point had already been
made. What “Beth” did do is help push Destroyer into another league where they
were getting crossover play on other radio stations than the ones that played
them before then. It also got them media attention, from the Peoples Chain
Award to the Paul Lynde Halloween Special. It further got listeners thinking the
band could do more than a group of hard-rock songs for teenagers and perhaps
could do something “more serious.” Most importantly. what it did was solidify
KISS as a player in rock music and not just a temporary success (even when
critics at the time were predicting that Destroyer would lead to the band being
exactly that) when it helped keep Destroyer on the charts for months after it was
starting to dwindle in sales in the summer of 1976.
But perhaps the most influential thing that “Beth” did was to convince
the band to put ballads on their albums (as a side note, Alice Cooper would
also follow this line of thinking after “Only Women Bleed” did well for him).
Ironically, the word has always been that Paul Stanley was the most vocal about
not putting “Beth” on the album, yet he has since done many of the ballads that
have appeared on the albums after Destroyer - and some of their biggest hits
besides “Beth” (“Hard Luck Woman,” “Shandi,” “Forever,” and many others)-
while Peter Criss concentrated more on rock ‘n’ rollers for his tracks. It also
moved the band into allowing for more pop influences as well as an ability to
experiment on their albums (although this perhaps had more to do with Ezrin’s
willingness to experiment through the Destroyer album). Thus, fans got disco
an Dynasty (“I Was Made for Lovin’ You”), ballads on the subsequent albums,
right up to the conceptual album, Music from “The Elder.” In other words, the
very music that some fans objected to in the late 1970s and early 1980s from
Thus, although “Beth” did not break the band open, one could say that it
lead to things that eventually would disturb the waters for fans’ dedication
to the band.
Eric Carr’s Passing
There were also issues inside the band as well. Carr was having difficulty in
recovery, and although he was determined to be in the studio with KISS for the
recording of the album, many agreed that he was not in the best of physical
and should have been recuperating rather than risking his health by being
there. The plan with Singer was that he would come in and record with them
until Carr was ready and then head back to his normal gig with Alice Cooper at
the time, with Simmons being firm in his thoughts that Singer was there only
temporarily (Singer has stated that Simmons pulled him aside during the record-
ings to make clear that Carr was still coming back and to not see it as a full-time
position). This jibes with Singer’s tour dates with Alice Cooper, as Singer would
tour with Cooper from July through most of October before he returned to work
full time on the Revenge album.
Some of the guitarists who auditioned or requested to come out for audition
and some of the bands they had or would in the future perform with) included:
Steve Farris - Mr. Mister and a number of other artists including Howard Jones,
Gary Wright, Celine Dion, Tori Amos, and Alice Cooper.
(Evenspotspeaks: I’ll just names of other guitarist noted but not include their band history)
Doug Aldrich, Yngwie Malmsteen, Adam Bomb, John Verner, Spencer Sercombe,
Richie Sambora, Joe Shikany, Marq Torien, Robbin Crosby, Tom Lafferty.
1991 - 2002
(About Eric Singer)
Eric Singer’s audition for the band was his “pressure under fire” performance
in working on the Revenge album while still part of Alice Cooper’s live band and
the emotional time of Eric Carr’s last days. There was no need to bring in several
drummers to look over, as Singer clearly knew his material and was already on
good working terms with Paul Stanley as per live shows due to Singer having
played on his 1989 solo tour.
When Peter Criss left in 2000, it was easy to ask Eric Singer if he wanted to
come back and take over. Same with Tommy Thayer taking over for Ace Frehley
in 2002, as Thayer had performed as Frehley in the tribute band Cold Gin and
had been on the tours working with KISS for several years at that point, so he
knew what to expect and when, just as the others knew what to expect of him.
After years of looking for unknowns outside of the group to spice things up,
KISS found that looking closer to home was the easiest and safest way to deal
with replacement members.
KISS 1st cover art album self titled
KISS certainly was not the first to wear whiteface or outlandish makeup
on their album covers - as discussed in a previous chapter - but beyond Alice
Cooper, there was not much of a sense that someone wearing clown white could
look threatening. KISS managed to do that with this cover, simply by reinforcing
the makeup on their faces in their own individual ways and giving an individuality
to the members of the band: ...
Trivial Album Notes
(Evenspotspeaks: trivia notes about the making of Destroyer involving
The first album to feature an outside musician replacing one of the four (KISS
featured Bruce Foster on piano but did not replace a member). Whether one
wishes to believe Ace Frehley couldn’t be bothered to perform on the song
“Sweet Pain” or that his guitar work was dismissed for that of Bob Ezrin regular
Dick Wagner is up to the fans to decide at this point. Most fans missed the
hidden final track on Side Two (which was only available on the first pressing
the vinyl but has since been added back with the remastered CD). The track
featured Paul Stanley singing with the choir in a warped minute and a half bit
of frenzy. Ezrin, Wagner, cowriters Kim Fowley and Marc Anthony, and engineer
Corky Stasiak had all worked on Alice Cooper’s 1975 album, Welcome to My
KISS performing at The Palladium, New York, June 25, 1980
Simply finding a drummer who could play their catalog was not the end-all
to the situation, either. KISS had always prided itself on being, as evidenced
with their early concept of “four Alice Coopers on stage,” four unique
individuals working as a unit.
Pg 188 - 189
Making of Phantom of the Park (Movie)
Even the KISS portion of the score is somewhat odd. Besides “Rock and Roll
All Nite” being performed twice, midway through the film, the band gathers
around Peter Criss and Paul Stanley as Criss sings a seemingly endless version of
“Beth.” What is peculiar is that Stanley is actually not playing the acoustic guitar
part heard in the film (as per Criss, originally he was supposed to mimic the
guitar part for the film but knew he would not be able to make it look convincing,
so Stanley jumped in to do it - but not before a photo was taken of the band
posed around Criss a with the guitar, which was used on one of the Italian movie
posters for the film). Instead it is a studio musician performing the part, most
probably guitarist Dick Wagner, who had worked on the acoustic guitar part of
the song when the band recorded it for the Destroyer album in 1976 (Wagner
was an old acquaintance of Destroyer producer Bob Ezrin, having worked with
him on albums for Alice Cooper and Lou Reed).
Making of Phantom of the Park
November 1979 saw the release of the movie in Australia to
strong box office, with ads from the Australian distributor making it into Variety
in January 1980. The film would later see a successful rerelease in Australia on
a double bill with Alice Cooper’s concert film, Welcome to My Nightmare, while
in some areas it played with the added bonus of the “music videos” made for
Dynasty album singles, “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and “Sure Know Something.”
Some American fans also remember getting a chance to see the movie (rated
PG for no logical reason) on the big screen as well, which may explain the small
number of American movie posters found for the film - posters that have given
rumor to a possible run as a theatrical release before being given to NBC to
show in l978.
Pg 196 - 197
Mike Douglas Show, Syndication, Airdate May 21, 1914
On reflection, one can only say. “It was the seventies.” What other time in the
history of television would afternoon talk shows present acts like Iggy Pop,
Alice Cooper, David Bowie....
.... The only national television appearance before this for the band was in the
March 3, 1974. episode of ABC’s In Concert, a program that not only was aired during
late-night programming on Fridays when mainly kids and college students would
be watching, but also was not seen on all the ABC affiliates across the country
(some stations dropped the show after the infamous premiere episode featuring
Alice Cooper). Thus, the Mike Douglas Show was really the first chance most
of America had to see the band in action, and no doubt that appearance did
more to make people stand up and take notice of KISS than any other television
ce until . . . well, until our next entry.
A Look At The Comics
Marvel attempted to jump into the rock music genre a bit earlier than their successful
usage of KISS by putting together a comic based on Alice Cooper’s Welcome to
My Nightmare album back in 1975 (and later finally producing a comic
on Alice’s From the Inside album in 1979 as part of their Marvel Premier series
as well as a later miniseries in 1994).
As Gerber told the Comics Jaurnal (August 1978, issue #41),
such ads almost did not make it into the magazine, as some Marvel staffers were
concerned about using KISS in one of their comics and compounding the trek
to hell by publishing ads for rock magazines that did not “fit” the style they perceived
Marvel to be. As Gerber pointed out in the same interview, Mantel did not
even promote the magazine in its regular series of comics coming out at the time
for fear of offending readers and parents who were already flooding the office
with letters of concern about the release ofsuch a comic book kids might see.
Such hysteria was fueled by an article written by columnist Bob Greene in
the Chicago Sun-Times condemning the book sight unseen, which saw publica-
tion in numerous newspapers around the country. It would later lead to Gerber
introducing a villain in the pages of Howard the Duck who was a journalist that
got his arm cut off in a guillotine during a rock concert by a band he was deter-
mined to tear apart in a book (in a parody of Greene’s biographical book about
touring with the Alice Cooper group, Billion Dollar Babies) and would replace
his arm with a clapper for a giant bell he now wore over his head. The character,
Dr. Bong, would have a KISS - connection as well...
Pg 247 - 248
The problem was that the musical-bio comic-book field was mined out by that point,
and the frantic buying by some collectors of issues of the Revolutionary Comics during
its hottest period of 1990 through 1992 was now dead. Thus, even with titles about Bob Marley
and the Rolling Stones being issued, the interest was dwindling, and only one
limited series - another Alice Cooper title, this one called The Last Temptation,
which was written by famous fantasy writer Neil Gaiman - did well before the
line closed after a year.
Instead, the series would display the group as “Four-Who-Are-One” of “The Elder;” elemental
like entities that protect the Earth while also involving themselves in the lives of
ordinary people by directing them down paths of possible destinies. Surprisingly
the theme is very similar to the three-part miniseries released by Marvel Music
back in 1994 for Alice Cooper’s The Last Temptation album and written by Neil
Gaiman. which featured a carnival “showman” (aka Alice) who tried to steer a
boy toward damnation through the various mystical devices available through
his “dark carnival.” Yet, then again, both borrowed themes from Ray Bradbury’s
novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, mining the same material in different
ways and not simply copying the other.
10 Possible Fifth Member of KISS
Splitting off in different directions, Penridge joined a “Texas Swing” band
called St. Elmo’s Fire at the same time Criss hooked up with two guys namd
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley for what would evolve into KISS. The parting
was cordial, and the pair kept in touch as well as former musicians usually do,
but then things changed when the band began working on their fourth studio
album, Destroyer. With Alive! drawing in new fans, KISS was anxious to keep the
interest growing with exciting material on the new album. They were also work-
ing with a new producer, Bob Ezrin, who had driven the Alice Cooper band and
Alice as a solo artist to huge success with a series of albums through most of the
1970s. Ezrin’s work on Cooper’s 1975 album, Welcome to My Nightmare, had also
opened up Alice’s career by including the ballad “Only Women Bleed,” which
nearly broke the top ten. Thus, KISS came into the Destroyer sessions with Ezrin
ready to present anything and everything to see what could work.
Pg 298 - 299
In the early days of the band, the concept of KISS was usually defined as “four
Alice Coopers onstage.” So when the band got a chance to have Cooper’s pro-
ducer Bob Ezrin work for them, how could they pass it up?
Ezrin had cut his teeth as a producer with the Alice Cooper group back
in 1971 when they began work on their third album after the first two failed
to do well on the charts. Ezrin was fascinated with a song by the band called
“I’m Eighteen” and would help orchestrate an album with the band that would
not only deliver their first hit single with “I’m Eighteen,” but turn Love It to
Death into their first album to break the Top 40. Ezrin continued to work with
Alice Cooper, with each succeeding album doing well on the charts, while also
producing the controversial but later critically admired Lou Reed album Berlin.
Looking for other projects, Ezrin had heard about KISS and decided to check
them out. Of course, with the Ezrin-produced Welcome to My Nightmare being
Cooper’s biggest album yet at the time, everyone knew who Ezrin was and were
happy to have him come onboard to guide them in the studio.
The album he produced with KISS would become Destroyer and be a hotly
contested piece of work for fans over a number of years. Featuring orchestration
and production quite different than the naked garage-band sounds of the first
three studio albums, the album made some fans at the time feel that KISS had
lost their street cred as a hard-rock band, while others thought it was an exciting
extension of the whole otherworldly image the band was increasingly cultivating
as the ‘70s progressed. With Paul Stanley’s “God of Thunder” essentially giving
Gene Simmons’s Demon character a theme song, one of their biggest hits with
“Beth,” and a number of songs that would become staples of their live perfor-
mances for years, the album is considered a classic by most KISS fans today. Not
at the time, however, as it was controversial enough that the band would be seen
as backtracking with the next album Rock and Roll Over, which was recorded
“live” with their Alive! producer Eddie Kramer.
Ezrin returned in 1981 to produce the band’s conceptual album Music from
“The Elder” and once again found himself and the band at the mercy of critics
and fans who split between either really liking or hating the album. With Ezrin’s
work on conceptual albums and having just come off the huge success of Pink
Floyd’s The Wall in 1979, it was again understandable why the band would turn
to him to help guide such a project as The Elder, which was viewed as the basis for
a possible movie as well as a couple of subsequent albums to complete the story.
It was also seen to be a momentous career-changer for KISS, pushing theatrics
to a new level for them, but instead it burned out fans and even members of the
band - both Ace Frehley and new drummer Eric Carr had several discussions
with Stanley and Simmons that the album was a sure misfire, only to be told to
mind their own business - who felt it was not the direction the band should go.
Ezrin once again moved on to other projects but returned to produce KISS
once more for their l992 album Revenge. Revenge found the band again looking
to remake themselves with a harder album after the party-friendly style of their
Asylum/ Crazy Nights/Hot in the Shade days. With a darker look to their image
and a darker tone in the album’s music and lyrics. Ezrin once again joined the
band as they reached a crossroad. Even with their effort, however, KISS soon
looked back to the days of the 1970s and the makeup for their journey into the
Ezrin was only involved with three full albums with KISS over their career,
but those albums were signposts of changing directions in tone, attitude, and
musical styles. The band trusted Ezrin enough to bring their efforts out in the
productions and shatter earlier concepts of them. All three have been the most
controversial albums in the band’s career, a fact that is due to Ezrin’s production.
Band Members Outside of KISS
...Vincent instead created the Vinnie Vincent Invasion and produced
the first album in l986 while opening for Alice Cooper that fall
and Iron Maiden the following spring...
Singer had a similar career upswing upon leaving KISS in 1996, doing tours and
albums with his band Eric Singer Project a number of tribute albums, and work-
ing with Alice Cooper off and on on album material and touring. Things did not
even slow down once he came back to KISS in 2003, with a large number of guest
appearances still popping up for him whenever he has free time away from KISS.
Legends Never Die:
Eric Singer Received Three Million Dollars to Rejoin KISS in 200l
For some bizarre reason, fans tend to think rock bands have a lot more money to
blow than they do in reality. The story stands that when Peter Criss left in 2000
and negotiations broke down, KISS was in desperate need of a replacement for
the Japanese tour already booked for early 2001. They immediately went to Eric
Singer, knowing he knew the material and had played with all of them before.
Singer’s reaction was that he had been fired once and would not get burned
again, and he demanded three million dollars to sign up. Simmons and Stanley.
broken, and having been taught a lesson by Singer, bowed their heads in shame
and agreed to pay up.
This mostly comes out of the rumors that Singer would take over but that
there were some delays in signing him up. Most of this, however, was due to
figuring out when and how he could leave his current tour with Alice Cooper in
order to help KISS out and not due to monetary demands. When I mentioned
this story to someone in Cooper’s management back in 2001, he found it hysterically
funny. So at least it gave someone a good laugh.