Knights in Satan's Service
I was scrolling through my news feed yesterday and I came across a story that is sadly all too familiar:
Paul Stanley said Kiss was “treated like crap” during their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. - Ultimate Classic Rock
Now usually this is where I would go on a rant about the Rock Hall exploiting the very artists they were meant to honor. BUT NOT HERE. Paul Stanley complaining about the Rock Hall is ironic because when they were inducted, I was complaining about Kiss.
Kiss' debut album came out in 1974 and if you go back and listen to their debut single Nothing to Lose, you'd be surprised at how bluesy and earthy Kiss was at their origins. The ever-prolific band then went on to own Rock 'n' Roll from about, let's say when Dressed to Kill came out in 1975 to
each member's solo albums in 1978.
So based on the merits of early Kiss, they deserved to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Absolutely. But you see that solo album above? That's Ace's solo record that's considered the best of the 4 released simultaneously. When Kiss reconvened in 1979, the wheels were beginning to fall off of the Kiss Wagon because the four members of Kiss couldn't get back onto` the same page.
The stage shows became more elaborate, as did the band's penchant for releasing live albums. By 1983, the band was about gimmicks like being "unmasked" and merchandising as half of the founding members were gone. For all intensive purposes, Kiss had burned out in under a decade.
But guess what? They soldiered on. Gene Simmons became one of the smartest businessmen in the history of Rock, behind only, maybe, Mick Jagger or Bono. Today Simmons is worth between a quarter and a half a billion dollars.
Shot glasses? Slap a Kiss logo on all tableware.
Kiss Dolls? We got a million of 'em.
Kiss Pinball Machine? A steal at just under 10 grand.
Kiss Jewelry? Top of the line for both men and women.
Kiss Clothing? You could fill a store with just Kiss clothing options.
Kiss Caskets? You saw this one on the news.
Today's incarnation of Kiss isn't Satanic for their love of the Underworld. Their biggest vice isn't sex, or drugs, or Rock and Roll. Nope it's the worship of money.
Even worse than the Kiss casket, you remember the L.A. Kiss Arena Football team?
Because with Kiss it was about the music for about 5 years, and it was about the marketing for 40 years. Did they have any good songs past 1983? Yeah, maybe one or two. But to circle back to the point of the article, about 1983 is when Kiss the Band became Kiss the Corporation. Some would argue that that happened about 1975. So for Paul Stanley to complain that the Rock Hall was mean to them in 2014 is laughable. Paul and Gene's Reward was Money. LOTS AND LOTS OF MONEY. As Stanley complained, he also admitted that he could see a day where Kiss soldiered on with no original parts.
Because it long ago stopped being about content and became about branding. The drama with the Rock Hall induction was that Gene Simmons wanted Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer inducted because they were good employees that had been with Kiss longer than Peter Criss. (Which was factually true.) The Rock Hall said only Simmons, Stanley, Criss, and Frehley were getting in because they were using their listening ears. The fans begged the Rock Hall to put Kiss in, and when they finally did, they got the usual Kiss in-fighting as the original 4 refused to play together. Gene Simmons claimed to be the peace-maker by saying he never refused to play with Criss and Frehley. Yeah, again technically he didn't. Simmons wanted EVERYONE on stage together, probably even Anton Fig. Simmons wanted all of Kiss Inc. on stage. Criss and Frehley wanted the original 4, the 4 guys who were inducted to play together one last time. Simmons didn't want to piss off his current workforce.
Why am I talking about Kiss today? Because Paul Stanley is still bellyaching about perceived Rock Hall snubs 5 years later and it makes news. What music was I listening to this weekend? It wasn't Kiss. Coincidentally I was listening to Ace Frehley's White Room.
When Paul Stanley goes to bed tonight on his piles and piles of money and Peter Criss goes to bed on his cardboard box, just remember Paul Stanley owns the characters that Criss and Frehley played for the band. Today, some estimates have the team of Stanley & Simmons being worth upwards of $1 billion. Somehow Singer & Thayer are 'only' worth a combined $25 million.
Ace Frehley was a moderately successful solo act, he could play the guitar with the best of 'em. As good as Frehley was with the guitar is as poor as he was with money management. His worth was estimated to be $500,000 in 2018.
The Kiss Discography did not stand the test of time, it is basically unlistenable past Lick it Up. (And that is being very charitable.) As mad as Stanley is at the Rock Hall for perceived slights is as mad as I am at Kiss for sucking for 40 years.