It is January 30, 1973 and a band named KISS plays their first show at a club in Queens, New York. 40 years later that band is a worldwide phenomenon. They have sold millions of records, played sold out shows around the world, garnered an avid fan base, immortalized themselves with their classic make-up and eccentric outfits, and this April 10th they will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The only accomplishment KISS had not achieved was gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, until now, as they make their first appearance ever on the magazine’s April issue.
The Rolling Stone cover marks the first time that the four original members were featured on the cover. The article about the band, written by Brian Hiatt, in leu of the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, chronicles the band’s history through its ups and downs, and features interviews with all four original members. Hiatt hung out with all four members, individually, and other than recounting the band’s memories and accomplishments, there was a good deal of finger-pointing as well. On May 20, 1980, original drummer Peter Criss left the band and on October 25, 1982, original lead guitarist Ace Frehley left as well; both were replaced shortly after leaving. They left due to creative differences and each wanted to start a solo career. The departures are wounds that have never fully healed for the band members and in the article they rehash some of those reasons.
Paul Stanley says in the article that all four members are like brothers, but did not always treat each other with the respect they felt they should have. Stanley admits that Gene Simmons, at the end of the day, puts himself ahead of everyone else, and that was part of the problem. Simmons also dished some dirt on Criss and Frehley, saying he finds himself wondering what they are doing, where they are and how they make money. All original KISS members are on the cover of Rolling Stone, and all make appearances in the article, but the photo is from 1975, when the band first formed, before they ever started the finger-pointing.
On April 10th the band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but they will not be playing a song together, as is customary for bands getting inducted. Stanley and Simmons had invited Criss and Freshley to play with the current band (Tommy Thayer is the guitarist and Eric Singer is the drummer) but they refused. They said it would be insulting to play the songs they wrote and then watch other people put on the make-up they made popular and play their songs. Gene Simmons, in the article, said that they do not deserve to wear the face paint anymore; just because they were there at the beginning, it is not enough to don the famous outfits. Simmons blames Criss and Frehley, saying it was their fault and they should not blame them. He is also angry with the Hall of Fame because they decided only to induct the original members, but not Thayer and Singer, who have been with the band longer and are currently still touring. Simmons feels that all six of them should play, or none of them.
Another reason they decided not to play a song at the induction ceremony is because they would feel obligated to do another reunion tour. The last time Criss and Frehley played with the current band the fans went wild and they had no choice but to do a reunion tour. At the end of the day, the two of them feel betrayed and offended that they will be inducted and then have to sit down and watch two other people, dressed like them, play their songs and go on tour. The disagreements will make the ceremony a little uncomfortable, but KISS getting their first appearance ever on the cover is something that all fans should celebrate, as Rolling Stone will always be a big accomplishment for any band, at any stage of their career.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich