Five things you didn’t know about Kiss
The iconic American hard rock band Kiss celebrated 40 years of fist-pounding anthems, extravagant outfits, and scintillating live shows in 2013. Marking the anniversary with a typically awe-inspiring tour in 2014-15, the band have hugely influenced modern rock music both musically and visually since their rise to prominence during the 1970s. But even after decades in the spotlight, with 30 gold albums and 25 million albums sold in the United States alone, there are still some quirky facts about the band that more often than not slip under the radar of fans. Below is a list of five things that you didn’t know about Kiss.
1. Kiss had their own Marvel comic book series
During the 1970s, Marvel Comics produced a series entitled A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss, depicting the band as superheroes. This was the first instalment in a string of comics that featured other famous musicians such as The Beatles, and it was a venture that turned out to be a huge success. The initial Kiss Super Special was released in 1977, with another released a year later.
It was also rumoured that, to put an archetypal Kiss spin on the series, real blood from the band members was mixed with the ink used to produce the comics. Guitarist Gene Simmons confirmed that this did in fact happen – the band allowed their blood to be taken at Nassau Coliseum during a concert stop in February 1977.
2. Katey Sagal sang backup vocals for Gene Simmons
As many will know, in 1978 each member of Kiss released a solo album, and the most successful of the four was Gene Simmons’s eponymous LP. What is not as widely acknowledged is the fact that actress Katey Sagal sang background vocals on the album.
She is recognised primarily for playing Peggy Bundy in Married… with Children, as well as voicing Leela in Futurama, but Sagal did pursue a music career alongside her acting. She sang backup for some other notable artists, including Bob Dylan, Etta James, and Olivia Newton-John, and even released solo albums in 1994 and 2004.
3. Two Kiss songs were co-written by Bryan Adams
Despite becoming super famous due to his soft rock ballads, Bryan Adams did in fact lend his talented writing hand to Kiss. At the time, the Canadian was relatively unknown, as it was before he released his Cuts Like a Knife album in 1983 which propelled him to stardom.
Adams was approached by producer Michael James Jackson, who asked him and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance if they could come up with any material for Kiss. They wrote two songs, one entitled War Machine and the other Rock and Roll Hell; both of which ended up on the band’s Creatures of the Night album.
4. Kiss have released their own game
Selling singles and albums on every continent and touring all over the world has enabled the band to construct a globally-recognisable image, and with that comes a whole host of extras. As we have already seen, the Kiss factor is something that even Marvel Comics wanted to get a piece of. It is therefore no surprise that the Kiss brand has found its way into other industries, like gaming and fashion.
The Kiss slot machine highlights how far-reaching the international image of famous musical artists and bands can be. As well as this, the popularity of Kiss memorabilia such as clothes, board games, and even trivial items such as shot glasses indicates just how many people across the world identify with the band and their music.
5. Six Kiss album covers feature members who hardly played on the actual album
This oddity occurred between the late 1970s and mid-1980s, during which time the band’s album covers were strangely detached from the content of the records themselves. The first example of this was in 1979, when the album cover for Dynasty featured Peter Criss, who only played the drums on one track: Dirty Living. All of the drumming aside from that was in fact performed by Anton Fig.
The curious case of the Kiss album covers continued into the 80s, and most significantly in 1982 with Creatures of the Night. Ace Frehley is on the cover, even though he did not play on it at all, but this was not the full extent of the confusion. When the band reissued the album in 1985, the cover featured a new guitarist – Bruce Kulick – who wasn’t even in the band when the album was first released. Three more album covers exhibited this strange mismatch, and as such it became something of a Kiss trademark.