By Craig Hlavaty
This week, KISS mogul Gene Simmons celebrated his 62nd birthday, probably surrounded by dozens of strippers in KISS panties, swinging on KISS sex swings, while pouring wax from KISS candles onto their KISS tramp-stamp tattoos. Damn, that actually sounds kind of hot, come to think of it.
For this weeks batch of creamy rock facts, we took on KISS, one of the most beloved bands on Earth. Houston hasn't seen any shortage of KISS in the past few years, as the band has been here about three times since 2009, with the last appearance coming at this year's RodeoHouston.
Previously, we've been flying solo on these fact sheets, but this time around we enlisted the help of the biggest KISS fan we know, one Jarod Frank. Frank works in the radio industry, including a DJ slot over at the old 107.5 The Buzz from 1995 to 1999, when they were playing the bands we love that now influence all the bands we don't like on the station today. Now he works for CBS Radio Houston.
Frank currently makes time with Sunsett Stripperz, an '80s hair-metal tribute band that will be at House of Blues next Friday, and a newer project, Foo Fakers, which pays tribute to the Foo Fighters. On top of all this, you can usually see him at most every big old-school metal show in town.
We asked Frank to help us with this list, so as not to run too terribly afoul of the super-fans that KISS has amassed. For the record, our favorite KISS album is 1979's Dynasty, because it has a nasty groove you can dance to.
Peter Criss, disgruntled during and after the filming of 1978's KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, had his voice replaced in the entire movie because he refused to show up for the looping sessions in post-production. The movie was being produced in part by Hanna-Barbera, so it makes sense that they used a voice from their stable to fill in for Criss - Michael Bell, who was doing the voice of Plastic Man as well as Zan and Gleek from the Superfriends' Wonder Twins.
Bruce Kulick's pre-KISS band, Blackjack, has other connections to KISS besides Bruce being the band's fourth lead guitar player. The group's lead singer, Michael Boloton - later changed to Michael Bolton; yes, that Michael Bolton - co-wrote KISS's most recent Top 10 hit, "Forever," with Paul Stanley in 1989. Blackjack's bassist, Jimmy Haslip, pinch-hit for Gene Simmons when some of the bass lines on 1982's Creatures of the Night proved to be a little tricky.
KISS had 12 albums that came with some sort of goodie for fans. Posters were included in Dynasty and
Unmasked. All four members' 1978 solo albums came with posters that fit together as one big mural. Rock And Roll Over had stickers, Alive II had temporary tattoos, and you got toy cardboard pop gun with Love Gun.
Katey Sagal, Peg Bundy from Married... With Children and the biker mama on Sons of Anarchy, sings back-up on Gene Simmons' 1978 solo album.
Ace Frehley's solo in "She" is ripped off from The Doors' "Five To One." Interestingly enough, Pearl Jam's Mike McCready admitted to ripping off the solo in "Alive" from "She."
Paul Stanley always said he wrote "Hard Luck Woman" for Rod Stewart, but it's never clear if it was ever presented to him for Stewart's own use. Still others say that after the success of "Beth," the band, or their record company, decided to keep it for Criss to sing on the band's next record to capitalize.
KISS was offered the part of the Future Villain Band in the movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The band turned down the movie because they were afraid of what it might do to their image. The part eventually went to Aerosmith, who ended up recording a hit version of The Beatles' "Come Together" for the soundtrack to the roundly panned film.
Gene Simmons tried to get any and all of the Beatles to guest on his 1978 solo album, but couldn't. So he got members of tribute band Beatlemania instead to fill in.
KISS was paid $35 for its first show in 1973.