It has been 50 years since Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Kiss launched their thunderock-doused debut album into the pop culture stratosphere. The eponymous album, released on February 18 1974, became a platform-stacked foot in the music industry’s door. What followed established Kiss as one of the most memorable hard-rock bands of the 1970s and ’80s, with a globally recognised legacy.
The early days
- The pair then hatched a plan to form a far more aggressive and successful rock band.
- Drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley were recruited, and the new-generation Fab Four renamed themselves Kiss.
- By late November of 1973, the band had developed their bombastic live performance style, perfected their makeup and signed a deal with Casablanca Records.
- Armed with reworked songs from Wicked Lester, Kiss entered New York’s Bell Sound Studios to record their debut.
The Kiss sound
- The salesperson, responsible for the glitter glue, enthusiastically recounted seeing Kiss play VFL Park (now Waverley Park stadium) in 1980 and made me promise I’d listen to them.
- With their reputation of on-stage pyrotechnics and gore, I’d expected something more akin to Black Sabbath’s Paranoid than the jangly riffs of Let Me Know or Love Theme From Kiss.
- Despite calling the album exceptional, Fletcher described its sound as a cross between Deep Purple and the Doobie Brothers.
- This commercial unviability loomed over Kiss until the release of Alive!
Success and beyond
- bridged the gap between the audacious intensity of Kiss’s performances and the timidness of their studio recordings.
- Their early tracks were repurposed to let listeners remotely experience the infamous Kiss live spectacle.
- As Rock and Roll All Nite claimed #12 on the Billboard charts, the platform-stacked foot burst through the door to mainstream success.
- Fifty years after Kiss first stepped into Bell Sound Studios, the band played their final sold-out show at Madison Square Garden on December 2 2023.
- Promised to be their biggest and best shows ever, the farewell became a colossal celebration of the band’s legacy.
Charlotte Markowitsch does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.