Kiss still draws capacity crowds in large arenas. Sure, they’re all AARP members, but still.

Back in the fall of 1975, when the monster album “Kiss Alive” was released, I remember buying it at Korvette’s for $5.99.

In fact, that might have been my first “hard rock” album. I was a junior in high school, and was just starting to get into Led Zeppelin, Kansas, The Who, all that, and Kiss was in the mix too.

Kiss, of course, was outrageous. They wore ridiculous makeup and costumes, and bass player Gene Simmons used to spit fake blood and do crazy things with his huge lizard tongue. To me, that whole thing seemed a tiny bit campy and silly, but they quickly developed a reputation as a great live act, and sold out shows accordingly. For me, it was more about (some of) the music. “Rock and Roll All Nite” was a decent party anthem, and I liked a few other songs, especially “Room Service” from the Dressed to Kill album.

But, seriously, if somebody had told me back then that 34 years later, Kiss would still be spitting blood, wearing ridiculous makeup, and selling out large arenas for live shows, I would never have believed it. Outrageous is strictly for the under-30 set, right?

Well, believe it, bucko.

The crowd at the United Center was a bunch of old guys and gals, some even dressed up like their favorite Kiss band member.

Yow! The mind reels.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, the founders of the group, must be doing pretty well for themselves: for just another $30 last Friday night at the UC, you could get a “USB leather wristband containing digital files of the night’s performance”.

Do the math on that profit margin, and multiply it by all that other crap you can buy at concerts. Think about all the other old fogeys doing concerts today, and how much cash is made from all that crap people buy at the shows. Say, how’s that career choice looking now?

My Kiss fascination ended pretty quickly. Within 4-5 years I wasn’t even listening to much hard rock any more. Maybe their wimpy ballad “Beth”, from their next studio record, had something to do with that. That song, in fact, might have started a huge 1980s trend: power ballads from hard rock bands. Gosh, thanks for that, guys! Really, that’s just awesome. Thanks again.

For completists only, I imagine: a 1994 tribute record called Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved, featuring Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Lenny Kravitz, among others.



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