Originally made up of four young men from New York City, New York USA, Paul Stanley on vocals + rhythm guitar, Gene Simmons vocals + bass guitar, Ace Frehley on lead guitar and Peter Criss on drums, the theatrically-minded and face-painted Hard-Rock band Kiss began its musical journey back in 1973.
The quartet started out playing small clubs around New York, but all the members had their minds set on superstardom. They aggressively publicized the band, sending releases to many important record industry executives and finally sealed a deal with Casablanca Records. Shortly after their signing with the label, the group issued the album "Kiss" in early 1974; it reached #87 on The U.S. Pop chart and the lead single, "Kissin' Time", debuted at #83 on The Billboard Hot 100.
Later that same year, despite all the buzz that their shows created, the inexplicable failure of "Hotter Than Hell" to rise any further than #100 on the Billboard Albums chart, perplexed critics who generally lambasted their music.
In March 1975 Kiss put out "Dressed To Kill" which peaked at #32 on The U.S. Pop Albums chart; the group's third album contained their first American top 40 hit single, "Rock And Roll All Nite", which became almost an anthem for the teenage crowd.
Cash flow became a problem when Casablanca, split from Warner Brothers. Because Casablanca was having problems meeting royalty payments the band's manager, Bill Aucoin, had to finance an entire Kiss tour on his American Express card. This situation turned around quickly when, in September 1975, the double album "Alive!" was released. Recorded in small and medium-sized towns around the U.S. this album truly captured the energy and drive the group put into their live shows; it was an instant success with a peak of #9 on the Billboard's chart, ending the group's financial problems.
However other problems were to arise. There was backlash from concerned parents and the press that Kiss's stage show gave children dangerous ideas. Simmons, in demonic makeup stuck his tongue out really far and would breathe fire during one of the songs. Several teenagers tried this at home and a few were seriously burned.
The band's next studio album, "Destroyer", arrived in March 1976 shooting to #11 on The U.S. Pop Albums chart and going double platinum; additionally it crashed into the top 10 in Canada and Australia and became a huge success all over Europe. In America two singles were ranked in the top 10: "Beth" and "Detroit Rock City"; "Shout It Out Loud" peaked at #31 on The Billboard Hot 100.
Eight months later, Kiss' fifth outing "Rock And Roll Over", equaled the Billboard chart peak position of its immediate predecessor while the first single, "Hard Luck Woman", grabbed a #15 spot on The Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up single, "Calling Dr. Love", also catapulted into the top 20 on the same chart.
During this time Gene Simmons brought a wealth of business background to the show, he has turned Kiss into a mega moneymaker through merchandise that included comic books, make-up kits, masks, board games and pinball machines.
The New York-based rockers issued "Love Gun" in June 1977, it peaked at #4 on the U.S. Pop Albums chart and furiously penetrated the Canadian top 3. The lead single, "Christine Sixteen", reached #25 on The Billboard Hot 100 and the title-track helped send the album to platinum status.
Before the year's end Kiss released their second live album, "Alive II", a double-LP which soared to #7 in U.S. and was ultimately certified platinum two times; the set contained five new studio tracks including the American top 40 hit "Rocket Ride".
After the release of another million-seller, the greatest hits compilation "Double Platinum", in 1978 at the height of their popularity, rather than release a new studio album, all four members simultaneously released a solo album.
Kiss resurfaced in the spring of 1979 with its seventh studio record, "Dynasty", it quickly bulleted into the top 10 of the U.S. LPs & Tapes chart becoming the band's sixth consecutive platinum album. The lead-off single, the disco-oriented "I Was Made For Loving You", stopped just short of the 10 of The Billboard Hot 100, at #11 and the follow-up, "Sure Know Something", reached the #47 position on the same chart.
One year later the band experienced momentary declining when "Unmasked" failed to rise above #35 on the U.S. Pop Albums chart and stalled at gold status; the main single, "Shandi", was a marginal chart entry on The Billboard Hot 100 just squeaking into the top 50. In the recording process, session drummer Anton Fig filled in for Peter Criss, who would officially split from the band soon after the disc's release and was later definitively replaced by Eric Carr.
Released in November 1981, "Music From The Elder", a concept album about a boy on a quest to defeat some evil power from taking over the universe, was greeted as a major disappointment; it only reached #75 in U.S. and quickly fell off the chart.
The quartet's tenth album, 1982's "Creatures Of The Night", reached #45 on The Billboard 200. This is the band's first album on which Vinnie Vincent contributed his guitar work, he was eventually named as Ace Frehley's replacement, playing on the ensuing tour. Despite the turnover in these original group members, Stanley and Simmons kept a guiding hand on the strategy of the band and continued to give audiences outrageous stage shows.
In September 1983 Kiss shocked their fans by appearing completely unmasked ending years of mystery about their real appearance, they put out "Lick It Up", which peaked at #24 in U.S. and became their first U.K. top 10 entrant. The album's title-track found success at American Rock radio, going a bit beyond the top 20 of the Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart.
Mark St. John replaced the departed Vinnie Vincent on guitar for the follow-up to their first non-makeup album; released in September 1984, "Animalize", crested at #20 on The Billboard 200 list and subsequently went platinum on the back of hit "Heaven's On Fire", which fell just shy of the Mainstream Rock top 10.
One year later Kiss churned out another commercially successful record titled "Asylum"; it ascended into the the top 20 of The Billboard 200 highlighted by the hit single "Tears Are Falling", which reached #20 on The Mainstream Rock chart. This album marked the appearance of the group's fourth guitarist in four years, Bruce Kulick.
September 1987 saw the veteran rockers unleash "Crazy Nights", their career best U.K. chart placing with a #4 ranking on the British Top 100 Albums Sales listing; in U.S. the disc grabbed a #18 spot on The Billboard 200 and generated two Mainstream Rock top 40 hits with "Crazy Crazy Nights" and "Reason To Live".
After the release of anothet platinum-plus greatest hits set, "Smashes, Thrashes & Hits", Kiss put out its fifteenth album of new material, "Hot In The Shade". It only reached #29 in U.S. but spawned their first top 10 single in ten years with the Michael Bolton-penned "Forever" as the syrupy ballad hit #8 on The Billboard Hot 100. This single also peaked at #17 on The Mainstream Rock list and "Hide Your Heart" reached #22 on the same chart.
In the fall of 1991 Kiss entered the recording studio to cut the highly praised "Revenge" album. Sadly, drummer Eric Carr became severely ill with cancer and passed away on November 24, 1991 at the age of 41. Devastated, Kiss continued with drummer Eric Singer and issued the album in May 1992, it debuted at #6 in U.S. and also broke into the top 10 in U.K. where the first single, "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll To You II", managed to crack the top 5; in America this tune finished just outside the top 20 of the Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks at #21. Two other singles, "Domino" and "I Just Wanna", reached #26 and #34, respectively, on the Active Rock chart.
One year later arrived the final chapter in the Alive trilogy. Though it was recorded on the tour following the band's strongest album in a decade "Revenge", "Alive III" in no way measures up to its legendary live predecessors, it debuted at #9 in U.S. but failed to surpass the platinum sales. During the spring of 1993 "I Love It Loud" was picked up by Mainstream Rock radio and in its live version this song reached #22 on the Billboard's chart.
In the summer of 1995, after 15 years, the band finally gave the fans what they wanted: a Kiss reunion show. Stanley, Simmons, Frehley and Criss performed on MTV Unplugged in what fans consider a historical concert. Nearly Rock legends, they exceeded expectations and given their newfound energy, charisma and love for the music, their performance provided the catalyst for the beginning of a successful world reunion tour.
"Carnival Of Souls - The Final Sessions", an album recorded before the unplugged performance with Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer, was released in October 1997. Though the first single, "Jungle", hit #8 on The Mainstream Rock chart, the album only reached #27 on The Billboard 200.
Since the 1996 reunion tour was a blockbuster success, Stanley and Simmons decided to keep Peter Criss and Ace Frehley around for a little while longer, long enough to record a full-fledged reunion album, "Psycho Circus". The disc, released in September 1998, topped the Australian chart, shot to #2 in Canada and debuted at #3 in U.S. where the lead single, the album's title-cut, soared to #1 on The Mainstream Rock chart.
Throughout the next decade Kiss continued to headline festivals around the globe as well as performing their own shows; however, once again, Frehley and Criss hit the door.
In October 2009, the Rock icon, released "Sonic Boom". Unlike "Psycho Circus", their nineteenth studio album in their historic career, recorded with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer, captured the spirit of the original group through simple, unashamedly macho songs such as the singles, "Modern Day Delilah" and "Say Yeah". "Sonic Boom" fell one position short of #1 on both The Billboard 200 and the Top Canadian Albums list and made an impressive foray into the north European charts.
Three years later Kiss returned with their next album, "Monster", going to the top 3 on both U.S. and Canadian charts and the single "Hell Or Hallelujah" went into the Heritage Rock radio top 40 list.