When I was a kid, I loved super hero comics. Today, what used to be comics are bazillion dollar movies. The comics were so far ahead of their time.
The same can be said of the band KISS. They are still so far ahead of other hard rock bands that folks incorporate elements into their own shows. Love them or hate them, they've thrived and survived. I love KISS because they had an incredible act (and I HATE KISS because they ripped me off a dozen times)!
Why do I still obsess about KISS? Here's a short list.
Live Shows: Let's face it, no other band in history can compare with KISS's spectacle. They are still amazing to watch, even though they fart dust.
They wore grease paint! Even though they stole costume designs from Patty LaBelle, it was the very cool graphical nature of their make up that reached out and grabbed me.
They were loud! Every time I went to a show, it would take a month for my ears to recover. How cool is that to leave a concert with a concussion!
They stayed in character. You could always count on Gene sticking out his tongue, Ace working his rubbery legs, and Paul preaching the Gospel of Rock'n'Roll. Peter? Well, as a cat, his motivation was about the next 9 lives!
Album Art: Kiss always had incredible album art painted on to their best albums ( Love Gun, Destroyer, Rock'n'Roll Over). Eventually, they started using photography, or corny comic book type graphics, but for a while they were very interesting.
They didn't follow trends (at first). Kiss at first never followed trends. They did their thing. And that was cool. But when Gene took leave to do acting, they did their version of what everyone else did just to stay relevant. But for the first 6 years or so, nobody told them what to do.
They didn't know how to build the house, but they knew what it should look like. Enough said. They knew they wanted to look cool (and they did) but they enlisted a team of people to get them there, including a TV producer, Bill Aucoin (who was gay) to get them where they wanted to be. Smart.
All things aside, I like the balance between hard rock and pop that Kiss did. And I really loved Ace's sloppy wonky guitar leads. And Gene's bass is always moving around, unlike most bass players, today, in rock music.
It's unfortunate, however, that they really didn't get along. They worked so hard to get big, that when they got big, they were burned out. You can hear it in the music they made after ALIVE II.
But no matter what, they'll always be my #1 side show!