There seems to come a time in every relationship where you need to sit back and examine where you have been and where you are going. Sadly I must say, that time had finally come with my love / hate relationship with KISS. Just like any relationship, let’s go back to where it all started…..1978.
Back in ‘78 I was only five years old, but I can remember this like it was yesterday. Growing up my mother and I lived with my Grandparents and my aunt who was only seven years older than me. My Great Grandparents took me and my aunt out to dinner & some shipping one night as a reward for doing well in school. They let her pick out any record she wanted. For some reason, she picked Destroyer. I got some gum when we went to the counter….hey I was 5, what did I know !Smile So when we get to the car, I reach in the bag to get the gum and for some reason pull out the record. I just stared at it all the way home. I had never seen anythign like it before. When we got home and my aunt played the album, I was hooked. The car crash, the guitars, the drums…I had never heard anything like it before! From that point on, KISS was my band!
So, as you can imagine, I started to get all the KISS merchandise as gifts and the occasional record. Come to found out years later, I only got the records after my uncle had bought them, listened to them, and told my mother they were safe for her young son to listen to. I had the dolls, the guitar, the radio, shirts, buttons, posters, and about anything else you can think of. My love of all things KISS never died. In 1983, I could not wait to get my hands on the first magazine that had pictures of KISS unmasked as our cable system did not get MTV until 1985. In 1985, I remember going to the local video store and crying because I had wasted my money on baseball cards when they just got in Animalize Live Uncensored. As I got into my teenage years, when all my other friends where starting to put posters of girls up on their walls, I still had posters and pictures cut out of magazines of KISS all over my walls. I went to any record show my mom would take me to buy bootlegs cassettes and vhs tapes. I finally got to see the band live for the first time on 12/27/87 on the Crazy Nights tour in Indianapolis, IN. In high school I had a the blue jean jacket with nothing but KISS patches all over it. And to round out my high school years, I cried like a baby at school when Eric Carr died.
So on to adulthood with this strange obsession with KISS. My 1st wife did not understand it and resented this devotion to the band. Many a night, we would have these strange fights about why I should grow up and stop idolizing four grown men. Then I discovered the KISS expos. HOLLY HELL! A room full of people who shared the same love and admiration for the band. Talk about some fights with the wife…wow! But I never missed the Indy Expo back then! Just when I thought things were getting better, guess what happens next. Ace and Peter join the band on MTV Unplugged. Just like the rest of the world, my thoughts were “could a reunion be far away?” And then the prayers of many KISS fans who did not get to see them back in the 70’s came true…a full fledged Reunion tour. two Reunion shows in Indy, two huge fights. Biggest fight off all time, the day I came home with a KISS tattoo. Not sure she ever really got over that one.
Just as a side note here, my love of KISS was not the only reason I did not get along with my 1st wife. We had a TON of other issues, but that is a post for another blog somewhere.
Then came the what would later be the best / worst thing ever to happen to a KISS fan. The internet. When I got my first computer, I am pretty sure KISS is the first think I looked up. Looking at ton’s of Anglefire pages with photo after photo of KISS. Then in 98 when samples of the Psycho Circus album leaked, I had them downloaded and played them over and over. I think they were like one minute clips of each song, but I played them over and over. So again, another tour, another fight, and finally…goodbye to wife #1.
So we move on to Farewell Tour era, then wife #2, then KISS gets “back to together”, more tours, more shows, (this time though a better understanding wife) and more KISS crap then you can shake a stick at. Somewhere around the Rock The Nation tour, I started selling off bits and pieces of my KISS collection. Couple of dolls here, a shirt there, some posters on EBay, and the next thing you know. I do not have much left at all. Then you come to terms with the facts that KISS is a marketing machine and you need to stop. So I did, but for a long time I felt like I turned my back on the band by not buying the merchandise. Then you find out Gene Simmons is out to raid the expos, record shows, and anywhere else he can think of to put a stop to bootlegs. Why? Because KISS wants to release some of this stuff in a DVD box set. Nice. Then the Coffeehouse, KISS World, more junk products I do not need, $500 meet and greets. Then the one thing I thought they would never do, (no not disco), they got lazy during the live shows. Not in the effort put into them, but the song selection. Same song, night after night, show after show. Do not get me wrong, I still went to the shows, but some of the excitement had started to rub off.
So where are we today? In the same boat. $1000 meet and greets, more crap products (think Hello Kitty), same songs night after night, KISS Kuises, Gene Simmons Reality Show, and finally….a football team. So I tell myself enough is enough.
I started this blog with the hopes of maybe getting some of that spark back for the band. In same ways it did, but mostly it made it worse. Posting the set lists for every show started to bum me out. Nothing exciting to talk about. So finally, I just quit. Last show I posted a set list for 7/10/13 Lethbridge, Canada. I took a break from all things KISS. Nothing on my Ipod, changed my desktop wallpaper, and just tried to stay away.
But just like a boomerang, I always come back around. I made a DVD trade though snail mail (something I have not done in a long time) and that got me kind of juiced to see some new to me shows. Then, a recording of my first KISS concert finally showed up. That got me a little more excited. Then I got my hands on the new KISS book “Nothin To Lose”. So I loaded it up on my tablet, put the first three KISS records, plus the Wicked Lester album on my Ipod and starting reading.
So as I am reading this book (at work and getting paid for it Smile) with my headphones on I have this sort of come to the light moment. What’s the one thing about KISS that has always been there for me? The music. Just like I have done with a lot of things in life, I need to let other people do what they want to do, but at the same time, do what makes me happy. So Gene and Paul want to open restaurants together…fine. So they open a mini golf course in Las Vegas….great. Maybe I will play a round there if I make it back to Vegas. I just need to let it all go!
So now that I think I have let it all go…what do I do? I go back and listen to Destroyer and remember why you became a fan in the first place. Watch a bootleg DVD from Houston in 77 and be amazed at the show! Go back and listen to a live recording with Eric Carr and get excited about the way the drums sound!
One of these days I will be stuck in a assisted living home somewhere with a KISS logo tattoo on my right arm and the chikara symbol on left. And proudly displayed in my room will be any and all KISS records, CD’s, or what ever form music come in the future. As I sit back and listen to the music that has made me happy for most of my life, I will remember that this is the music soundtrack to my life. Rocking back and forth during Duece and singing as loud as I can “I Wanna Rock N Roll All Nite, and Party Everyday”!