Through the years, many of music’s greatest acts have been given the honor of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During this period though, there have been many legends missing from the ballot. One of those acts being KISS, one of the most popular bands of all time and a band that is finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 15 years late of their initial eligibility. With the time finally coming for the influential band, the question is why did it take so long?
Many confuse the KISS brand that mixes classic hard rock with a distinctive look that mixes clown makeup, futuristic costumes, horror and an expensive stage show as a gimmick. However, if one looks at the history of rock and roll, and the heyday of classic rock in the 1970s, one cannot dismiss KISS who have written many anthems including “Deuce”, “Detroit Rock City” and “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
Sure, the music can be subjective to people and particularly for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. However, the one thing the hall of fame should look at above anything else is the influence a band has on the music world. In fact, listed on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website it even states that an artist must have influence and significance as it relates to rock and roll.
During their time in the 1970s, starting with the group’s debut self-titled album in 1974, KISS became one of the most popular acts in the world. From their inception until now, the band has a total of 37.5 million albums sold in the U.S. along with 28 of their releases being certified gold and 30 certified platinum. That’s a feat that not many bands have been able to accomplish, thus it proves their place in the hall.
Additionally, they are one of the most influential bands in terms of presence on a stage. Along with Alice Cooper, KISS invented the stage show. Pyrotechnics, flames, stage blood, smoking guitars and the legendary lit up KISS logo at the back of the stage are all things that helped inspire some of the largest acts in the rock world. In fact, one could argue that concerts wouldn’t be the same without a band like KISS, where part of the norm of arena shows today are made up of large stage productions.
KISS didn’t always have the makeup on though. Another unique quality of the band is that they have been able to reinvent themselves time and time again. They aren’t just a musical act, but they have made themselves into an American cultural icon. It is rare to be at a concert of any brand of rock and not see a KISS t-shirt.
It is because of this image that they made huge news in 1983 when the foursome appeared on MTV without their stage makeup. As a result, the band for the first time showed themselves to the world as a real band, proving their detractors that they were more than just a gimmick. Throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s the band would continue to play minus their stage makeup — that is until 1996 when the original band members returned to the fold.
With a band as prolific, popular and integral to popular and rock music, it begs to question why it took the Hall so long to induct KISS? As rules state, the earliest for a band to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is 25 years after their first release. Considering that, KISS should have been inducted in 1999. This year is 2014, which makes it an overwhelming 15 years after their first eligibility to make the Hall.
In modern times, it isn’t uncommon for bands to be looked over. Black Sabbath, arguably the innovators of heavy metal wasn’t even inducted until 2006 after releasing their debut in 1970, making them 11 years past their eligibility. There’s a long list though from bands such as Deep Purple, Jethro Tull, Judas Priest, The Cure, Rush, Def Leppard and many more.
Considering they have many popular songs, have distinguished themselves among the most popular of fanbases and influenced many artists in terms of music, look and theatrics, you’d think they would have been inducted sooner.
Instead, they were often left out, which leads to one line of thinking. Their most influential part of their career, the look they have could have left a bad taste in the voters’ mouths. It makes much more sense in this light, but there probably is more to it.
Then again, despite the influence they had on modern society Nirvana is being inducted in their first year of eligibility, a bizarre occurrence when so many deserving acts are still left on the sidelines.
At the end of the day though, the Hall is going to be unpredictable and will always leave off those deserving artists. Thankfully, even if it is 15 years late, KISS being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame give promise to other bands who have been skipped over. Along with KISS, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Nirvana, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens will be inducted at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York on April 10, 2014.
Opinion by Simon Mounsey