~ Classic Rock Forums ~ Band of the Month July 2010 Ahh Kiss, where do we start with one of the most colorful bands in the history of rock and roll? I guess the beginning. I won't go too far back and try and keep this about the band KISS, while touching on pre-Kiss just a little bit. Kiss has been an American rock and roll band since January 1973. The original lineup consisted of 4 members: Gene Simmons (bass), Paul Stanley (guitar), Peter Criss (drums) and Ace Frehley (guitar). This official lineup remained constant from 1973 to 1980, the timeframe that most fans and critics alike would consider the "heyday" of Kiss. The band has put out 19 studio albums along with a couple dozen live albums, compilations and box sets throughout their career. They have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. Here is a quick glimpse at some of the early album covers during the first 'era', provided by site web mistress, Magic (thank you kindly m'dear) Studio Albums (1974-1980) Kiss (1974) Hotter Than Hell (1974) Dressed To Kill (1975) Destroyer (1976) Rock and Roll Over (1976) Love Gun (1977) Dynasty (1979) Unmasked (1980) Humble Beginnings: Kiss rose from the ashes of the band that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were previously in before Kiss, Wicked Lester. Wicked Lester was formed in 1970 under the name Rainbow, but changed their name in 1971 to Wicked Lester. The band recorded one album in late 1971 to which the rights were purchased by Epic Records. The album was never officially released, however there have been bootlegs circulating for years. In 2001, Kiss released a box set which included 3 songs from the Wicked Lester sessions. Here is an early picture of the members of Wicked Lester: Wicked Lester only performed two live shows during their time together. In 1972, Gene and Paul decided that the reason Wicked Lester wasn't going anywhere was due to a lack of musical vision. By the fall of 1972, Peter Criss had joined the band after placing an ad in Rolling Stone. It didn't take long before two other members of Wicked Lester left the band leaving only Simmons, Stanley and Criss. The band practiced as a trio for a few weeks and it was during this time that the group first started dabbling with the idea of stage costumes and wearing make-up. A few weeks later, the band was contacted by Ace Frehley after a friend of his saw an ad in a local paper, The Village Voice. As the story goes, Ace showed up for his audition wearing two different colored shoes ... one red, one orange. The audition was along with a number of other guitarists. Paul, Gene and Peter weren't too impressed with Frehley's stage presence, but they were impressed with his guitar playing and saw that he could be a fit in what they were trying to do with their music. Within a couple of weeks, Ace Frehley was officially the newest member of Wicked Lester. By January 1973 the band decided to change the name. Rumor has it that Paul, Gene and Peter were together talking about it. Peter said he liked the name Lips. Paul reportedly suggested "What about Kiss?" and there it was, the band was now officially KISS. Ace designed the famous, official Kiss logo. Also in January 1973 was the time when the band decided on their official stage personas; Paul being The Starchild, Gene being The Demon, Peter being The Cat (or Catman) and Ace being The Spaceman (or Space Ace). Kiss was now set to start a career that had quite a rocky start but would continue for 37+ years. *** continued in the next post. My apologies for the slowness of getting the BotM thread started, but between the long holiday weekend, work (which has been horrid) and computer viruses.... it's not been much of a holiday. Anyway, more coming, starting with their first official Gig.