DRESSED TO NIL Kiss

Gene Simmons complains that Kiss gets no love from the Rock and Roll Hall
of fame. News flash: he’s a hypocrite.

 

By RANDY HARWARD

 

Once again, ultimate glam rockers Kiss have failed to make the ballot for
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Reuters story about Simmons’ recent carping
about the would-be snub to a Billboard conference
makes a good point: They’ve sold millions of records, and influenced several
generations of fans and musicians. So why isn’t Kiss in the Rock and Roll Hall
of Fame?

 

Well, Gene Simmons certainly thinks they should be inducted into the Hall, and
as much as I hate to validate dipshits, I must agree. While Simmons and band
spouse Paul Stanley are no Lennon and McCartney in the big picture, their
songwriting up through the 1977 album Love Gun, and even in a few spots
since, is the L&M equivalent… in the butt/cock rock genre. Simmons would no
doubt quibble with that distinction, too, ’cause in his mind he’s Elvis,
L&M and God-and that’s just the part of him that occupies the codpiece.

 

Aside from the songs, Kiss has made significant contributions to rock and
roll just by being Kiss. They were the ones that elevated rock stars to
superhero status, not just by gettin’ all gussied up in kabuki makeup and
elaborate costumes and giving themselves out-of-this-world identities. They
were super and heroic because they actually were larger than life.

 

Kiss had to have some kinda charisma to sell us that concept and those
theatrics. Any shithead could procure greasepaint, fireworks, and lights, then
decide that instead of Chaim Witz or Stanley Eisen, he wants to be Gene
Simmons, demonic sex machine or Paul Stanley, absolutely fabulous ladies
man/ladyman. Simmons’ shrewdness and hubris; Stanley’s campy androgyny; Ace
Frehley’s spaced-out, drunken master persona and guitar playing; Criss’s
sensitive pussy/low-man act-it wasn’t genius. It was pure alchemy, the result
of the right four guys coming together at the right time with the right idea.

 

Until it all fell apart. Since Criss and Frehley exited/were fired and the
band began serving shit sandwiches like Music from the Elder, Kiss has
been a shadow of its once-mighty self. None of the scabby, reconstituted
Kiss-es that followed could touch what The Originals accomplished. That much
was proven when Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter reunited in 1996, but the magic was
almost immediately shit upon by Gene and Paul. They treated Ace and Peter, so
key to Kiss’s greatness, like hired hands and, when their ostensible
subordinates once more exited the band, they were replaced-but not their
costumes.

 

Simmons and Stanley justified it as an exercise of their intellectual
property rights, yet while dressing Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer as the Cat and
the Spaceman was legal, it was-to any devoted but realistic Kiss fan-total
bullshit. Kiss with Singer and Thayer rings false. Not in the aesthetic or the
performance, but in the music. Singer’s Cat and Thayer’s Ace are much
too competent as musicians. Peter and Ace had signature styles rooted in their
own dysfunction, and that shakiness complemented Simmons’ and Stanley’s wannabe
Beatles/Who songwriting, giving Kiss’s caveman rock (and over-the-top image) a
level of accessibility that enabled them to sell millions of records, influence
generations of fans and musicians, and become important and permanent pop
culture icons.

 

Kiss was the sum of very specific parts. If-hopefully when-Kiss gets
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Simmons and Stanley would do well
to recognize this, and allow Ace and Peter to share the main spotlight with
them equally. Certainly the replacements (Singer, Thayer, Bruce Kulick, Eric
Carr, Marc St. John, Vinnie Vincent) and even the musicians (Bob Kulick, Rick
Derringer, Anton Fig and who knows who else) who played Ace and Peter’s parts
when they were, shall we say, incapacitated, should be acknowledged. But we all
know where Simmons is going with this.

 

The inveterate huckster just wants to keep the money train rolling. Case in
point: The once out-of-the-question Alive Worldwide reunion tour (1996) and new
album (1998, accompanied by the Psycho
Circus
Tour) led to a farewell tour (2000) that was repeatedly extended and
ran into a co-headlining tour with Aerosmith (2003), the Rock the Nation Tour
(2004), assorted brief tours and one-offs, and now the Alive/35 Tour. Now Stanley
is talking about a Summer 2009 continuation of Alive/35, and a possible new
album. Imagine what induction into the Rock Hall, the would-be ultimate brownie
point, do for sales.

 

Simmons is noted for his marketing savvy, but his publicity stunts, are
getting more hamfisted and desperate. Remember how he released that sex tape prior to the new season of his reality show? (That skank wouldn’t even KISS
him-ha!) Now photographer Ross Halfin reports that Stanley told him Kiss may
make a new album. Then Stanley poo-poos the rumor to the press at the UK’s
Download Festival saying, “If you’re playing a new song, that means you can’t
play a classic song. So, really, what’s the point?” (See clip from press conference, below.) Eight days later, “I
thought that I’d be content for KISS to remain a heritage act, just playing our
greatest hits… But the new KISS lineup is proving to be so good, so strong in
spirit…” Blahbitty blah, blah, blah.

 

So Simmons’ pissing and moaning is both a press grab and a way to get the
Kiss Army, which has petitioned for Kiss to get a Rock Hall nod, energized and
saving their pennies. The Demon himself told the Las Vegas Weekly in 2003 that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is “a
popcorn fart for us. It doesn’t mean a lot because it’s not really
representative of the American lifestyle. It’s not democratic.” Now he suddenly
cares.

 

So let’s assume Kiss gets inducted. Simmons will gladly share the honor with
life partner Stanley, and with pang of reluctance, will allow Ace and Peter to
play bitch roles in the ceremonies. Where’s the democracy there? Before you cry
foul, Gene, be sure you’ll be as fair as you’d like to be treated. To do
otherwise would be to make a mockery of your greatest achievement.

 

Then again, Rolling Stone founder and Hall honcho Jann Wenner, whom
you aim to chastise and humiliate by saying he can fetch your sandwich, did the
same thing. He squandered all of R.S.‘s
credibility, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-which inducted Madonna and Grandmaster Flash ahead of artists who made far more substantial
contributions to rock and roll-is
pretty much a popcorn fart. At least Wenner was able to onanistically
induct himself into the Hall, albeit with plausible deniability and distance,
with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Too bad you can’t do the same.

 

But, hey-at least you can tongue yourself.

 

 

 

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