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KISS Of Life? Or Death?

The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

 This is a bittersweet event for me. Most of you know I campaigned for many years to get KISS into the hall of fame. I was part of petitions, phone calls, written articles and even pushed for votes on this very site when fans could influence who gets in. I’m not taking credit for this in any way, many have done the same thing I did, others had much larger platforms to be heard from. I’m just saying that this was something I was passionate about. I am glad that they got in. Since they got in, they seemed to have gotten a new respect from the media. The likes of Rolling Stone magazine and news shows on TV have all reached out and now credit the band for all kinds of things. It does validate the fans, at least I think it does. But we as the fans knew this all along.

This induction also ties into the band’s 40th anniversary. KISS debuted their album on February 18, 1974. As fans, I think we had great expectations (no pun intended). Most dreamed of the original line up performing again, some hoping even a new reunion tour. I was more inclined to have all living members their to accept the award and have an all out jam. To me that would be cool. But alas, that isn’t going to happen. Ace Frehley said on the Eddie Trunk Radio Show that he and Peter won’t be performing with the original line up and have been denied. Peter came out the next day on his site and said the same thing and that it was disgraceful. KISS or Paul and Gene, responded that they didn’t deny anyone anything. They were not going to play live and were going to accept the award on behalf of all the lineups that made KISS last the 40 years that they have been around. Ace and Peter were making it a point to let everyone know that they weren’t performing because the tickets go on sale next week for the ceremony and wanted fans to know, in case they were expecting to see them jam. Now, they may or may not be going. From my perspective, it’s hard to see this unfold, being a fan since the beginning.

A lot of people are calling for Paul and Gene’s heads and empathizing with Peter and Ace. I think we need to take a closer look at what’s happening here. But before I begin, let me make myself clear. I will always be a fan of the original line up over any other incarnation of the band. That line up changed my life in so many ways, I can’t even begin to detail here. They had a huge impact on my life and as you all know to this day am very loyal to the band That being said, we need to look at the hard facts over the years. When KISS changed from being music trailblazers to followers, they soon began to lose their fan base. Everyone seems to think it started with the Dynasty album. I think it started before that with KISS Meets The Phantom Movie. When everyone decided they were a kid’s band. But I digress, so the next several albums didn’t go anywhere. Fans weren’t buying them. The band lost Peter and Ace, going through these changes didn’t help them with the fans at all. Creatures Of The Night came out, which I think is one of their great albums, and tanked, as well as their first tour in a long time. In the meantime, both Ace and Peter tried their hand at solo careers and Peter failed miserably. Ace did okay in the eighties with Frehley’s Comet but after that nothing.

 KISS need to do something to get their career back in line. They decided to take the makeup off and go stripped down. Lick It Up was a success and they were back to playing half packed arenas. KISS continued to go through member changes and releasing albums and trying to sound like whatever was popular at the time. They even went back to Bob Ezrin to see if they could get the magic back in the studio with Revenge, one of my favorite KISS albums. Again they did get some success but they couldn’t sell out arenas and they did things like the convention tour to make money and some clubs. Ace and Peter also toured together as the Bad Boys tour and could only play clubs. Here you have the once mighty KISS not being able to sell out concert halls and Peter and Ace thinking they were going to be bigger than they were playing small venues.

 Until 1996 when MTV did the KISS Unplugged show. That’s when everything changed. The band became huge again, the album went gold. Out of its ashes became the reunion tour. Now KISS was back on top, selling out stadiums and setting records. Everyone rejoiced, old and new fans got what they wanted. Makeup, the stage show, the original line up. Everything KISS was good again. What could go wrong. Egos, money and addictions. All came back and a few years later it all came to an end with the original line up. Ace leaving first this time and then Peter. But KISS kept the makeup and the stage show and was riding high now and there was no turning back. They have since maintained selling out of shows and keeping KISS popular with their current lineup and new music. Ace has released new music and is currently working on a new album but he still plays small venues.

 Paul and Gene are enjoying huge success now and are true celebrities in their own right. Something they have tried to reach over the years and really didn’t. KISS has been validated and they are reaping the accolades for it. Why does all this matter? Well because they don’t feel they have to compromise. They truly don’t need Peter or Ace in the band. They like what they have now and don’t want to ruin it. Peter and Ace could use the publicity to help launch their next career moves. That being said, a lot of fans are upset that the original line up is not playing at the induction ceremony, myself included.

Peter and Ace can go down the road that this is a disappointment for the fans and a disgrace. But from Paul and Gene’s perspective, these guys had a chance to stay in the band but left twice. Why do they deserve a third shot? They left. Twice. I can see why Paul and Gene don’t want to go down that road again. At the same time it doesn’t make Paul and Gene right? From a business perspective, they are doing what they feel is right. As much as I would like a reunion of sorts. I would rather have KISS make this 40th anniversary tour special, with all living members performing certain songs together at selected venues throughout the tour. The Rolling Stones did it, where members who are no longer with them joined their current line up on tour. Yes, I would ask KISS not to wear the make up and go all natural for this and just jam out the great tunes.

I know there is a huge debate over this issue and I have to say this knowing a lot of you won’t agree. I think to save face all around KISS made the right decision to just accept the award for something they don’t care about and doing it for the fans is the way to go. If they aren’t willing to perform with everyone then I would prefer they accept it and move on. But I wonder if they would all join in the all star jam at the end of the show, maybe the best of both worlds. As Gene sang on the Psycho Circus album, “Everything’s Gotten Way Out Of Hand, Your Wish Is Our Command, You Wanted The Best, You Got The Best”.

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