A few months after the Lubbock Farewell concert, I walked away. I’d had it. I was done. I was, and mostly am, through with KISS. I do not own Sonic Boom or Monster. I have no intention of purchasing these any time soon.
Although Part 7 didn’t make it clear, the KISS Army email list was something of an all-consuming thing. Active participation required 2 - 3 hours per day just to keep up with the volume of email. That quickly lead to burn out. And I burned out hard. I’d been reading about KISS, interacting with KISS fans, and listening to KISS and KISS-related bands for years. Granted, it was all my choice and I gladly and whole-heartedly participated, but it was time for a reboot.
So a couple of months following the Farewell show, I rebooted. There’s a time for everything, and that includes a time for walking away. This was my time to walk away.
Until this month (2013-Dec), I haven’t intentionally listened to KISS since the Lubbock Farewell concert, which was in 2000. That’s 13 years. Sure, a song would turn up on a play list now and then. I usually skipped them. How many times can you hear a song before it adds nothing to you? I’ve listened to most KISS songs five plays past that limit. More often than not, when I heard them, it made me tired. It literally drained me. Lately, I find myself drawn back to them. This is mostly due to the fact that I’m converting several bootleg VHS tapes to digital. And I recently snagged or Kiss Symphony: Alive IV, The Box Set, the Alive box set, and the DVD for the KISS Symphony concert.
These are things I feel, as a proper KISS fan, I should own. There’s new/unheard stuff on these albums. I’m hopeful for my adventures with these albums. I’d like to fall in love with KISS again. I miss that. I guess, music-wise, more than anything, I miss being in love with KISS.
Of course, I picked up KISSology Volume 1, Volume 2 and Volume 3. I’ve only scanned through them. The Coventry concert at the end of Volume 3 was a surprise. As it flickered onto the screen, I said, Oh my God, this is Coventry. I was literally slack jawed and watched it all. At the time of that show, I was three years from discovering them. It’s a great show and discussed in Nothing To Lose.
Over the years, I’ve picked up several unofficial recordings, videos, posters, and books. All of the videos are VHS and, as I mentioned, I’m currently converting them to digital. Dale Sherman’s Black Diamond is a good book. I also have Black Diamond 2 but I haven’t looked at it much. He quoted me (as Shock Me) on the back cover of this book, which is cool. 1 Dale also has a fairly new book titled KISS FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Hottest Band in the Land, which I haven’t read. It has good ratings on Amazon, though. Dale’s a nice guy. I met him in Chicago.
In the late-90s, Mark (Drac) was in touch with someone from Eric Carr’s family. Eric’s mother was looking to sell several of Eric’s unused drumsticks. Mark hooked me up with a pair. I’ve never opened them. They’re still wrapped for shipping and laying on a shelf behind my bar.
Even though I don’t listen to KISS that often, I still read about them. The easiest to obtain and most complete are the KISS Album Focus books by Julian Gill. I own and have read the first three volumes.
- KISS Album Focus: Kings of The Night Time World, 1972 - 1982 (Volume 1)
- KISS Album Focus, Hell of High Water, 1983 - 1996 (Volume 2)
- KISS Album Focus: Roar of The Greasepaint, 1997 - 2006 (Volume 3)
- KISS Album Focus: Never Enough, 2006 - 2013 (Volume 4) 2
Julian Gill, who maintains KissFAQ, has done a tremendous job on these books. They are packed full of references, quotes, and the story he presents fills in a lot of the cracks and holes. Granted, the books could use some professional editing 3, but they are invaluable as reference material. If I’d paid 2x the cover price, I’d still be happy with them.
Another great source is KISStory. Unfortunately, it’s out of print and has always been expensive. If I recall correctly, the signed and numbered editions were $150.00 on the date they were released. It’s hard bound and 440 pages of mostly unapologetic history. Sellers on Amazon have them at $200 now, in new condition. 4 I wrote about this some in Part 7. As awesome as this book is, I do not recommend it for anyone other than hardcore fans because of the price. $200 is a lot for 440 pages. That’s over $0.45 per page. Still, it’s packed with great stories and amazing pictures. This is book well worth owning, if you’re a fan.
If you can’t or won’t lay out the cash for KISStory, you might want to consider Nothing to Lose, a history of the band from 1972 - 1975. I’m currently reading it, and it is fantastic. It’s an oral history, and fills in a lot of holes and background. I plan to write a more complete review later. While I have a few issues with it, it’s a great read and I highly recommend it.
And, of course, we have the autobiographies:
- Ace: No Regrets
- Peter: Makeup to Breakup: My Life In and Out of Kiss
- Gene: KISS and Make-Up
- Paul: Face the Music: A Life Exposed - Pre-order.
I’ve read Ace’s book. It’s okay, but nothing spectacular. I’ve read none of the others, but they’re on my radar. I will eventually own them. I don’t typically trust autobiographies and, more specifically, I don’t trust anything Gene Simmons says. I haven’t for decades. He doesn’t shoot straight. For example, prior to the Farewell tour, Gene said this wasn’t a cash grab, this wasn’t a situation where they’d be back a few years from now, this was the end. Of course, KISS is now touring with Eric Singer in Peter’s makeup and Tommy Thayer in Ace’s makeup. What Gene meant was the Farewell tour was the end of the original four. But his wording would lead a non-critical examiner to believe that it was the end of KISS. Which, as we all know, is ridiculous.
Personally, I think, from a current relevancy perspective, Paul and Gene dropped the ball by continuing to use Peter’s and Ace’s makeup. I remember when Eric Carr arrived, there was so much excitement about his makeup. Everyone wanted to see them live because they were a new band and they wanted to see Eric. The same can be said for Vinnie Vincent. The new members with new makeup made for great press and generated a lot of interest. They could’ve easily put Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in new, original makeup, then gone to the studio as a new version of KISS (which they are) and made the new albums (which they did). It’d have made for better press and I think more people would’ve been interested to see them.
In trying to figure this out, why they would re-use Peter’s and Ace’s makeup, it suddenly occurred to me: A time where KISS never ends. Gene and Paul are solidifying the original four faces as “the KISS”. Eventually, Gene will be replaced and Paul will be replaced. And all four “members” will simply be hired hands, with Paul and Gene or their surviving companies raking in the bulk of the cash. The only thing that changes is the person behind the makeup. Image becomes everything. That’s a scary thought, but it’s completely within Gene’s thinking as I’ve come to know it from afar.
But what do I know? I’m just a jaded and burned out fan. Life is a circle, and what’s old will become new. Some day, the journey will begin again. Some day, I’ll buy those missing albums and someday, I’ll buy those missing books. And some day, maybe, hopefully, I’ll fall in love again.
And on some level, I just can’t wait. 5
When Dale released his first book, Black Diamond, he donated a book to my now long defunct KISS website. I ran a trivia contest, and the winner won the book. Dale was a sweetheart to allow me to promote my site while also promoting his book, and as a result of this, he quoted me in Black Diamond 2. ↩
I don’t own Volume 4 and haven’t read it. I’m not buying it yet, either. KISS is currently an ongoing story and I expect Volume 4 to be expanded upon as time goes on. Until Gill releases Volume 5, I’m holding off. ↩
I don’t think Volume 3 had an editor and it shows. Some sentences make no sense at all. ↩
Be aware that only a limited number were actually numbered and autographed copies. Don’t pay $200 for a non-numbered and/or non-autographed copy. Know what you’re buying. ↩
Bonus points if you get this one. ↩