DAILY DIRT: Yes, there has always been a method to the KISS madness


Daily Dirt for Friday, June 23, 2023

If I had ever earned a spot in KISS, I would have likely been Ace Frehley’s “Spaceman” … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 646 of The Daily Dirt.

1. At one time, the band was mildly controversial with its appearance and stage shows.

Now, in their golden years, KISS members are just kind of campy — but still entertaining.

KISS, one of the most iconic rock bands in the last 50 years, has been a lot of things since its 1973 founding, but boring has rarely — if ever — been one of them. The band is readying for its farewell tour, so there is no better time to look back at 10 of the greatest (yes, the term is used loosely) items connected with KISS history:

1. Legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen was “almost” a member of the band, but KISS front man Gene Simmons felt he would “cast too much of a shadow” as a member of the group.

2. There is actually a method to the KISS madness. The makeup and costumes worn by the band members aren’t just fun, they’re the embodiment of each musician’s character. Each original band member came up with a comic-book type figure. Paul Stanley became The Starchild, Simmons was The Demon, Ace Frehley became The Spaceman, and Peter Criss was The Catman.

3. The KISS acronym never stood for “Kids (or Knights) In Service to Satan.” This claim was allegedly created by anti-rock preachers in the 1970s who were trying to convince parents to censor their children’s music.

4. Over the course of 50 years, there have been 10 different band members, although Stanley and Simmons have always been in the group. Frehley and Criss have been in and out of the lineup over the course of the 50 years.

5. Before he was The Demon, Simmons was actually Chaim Witz, the only son of a Holocaust survivor. Simmons was raised in Israel and immigrated to the United States when he was eight. When he was 9, he attended a Jewish religious school and intended to become a rabbi. After transferring to a New York public school, Simmons dropped his religious aspirations and fell in love with music after hearing the Beatles. 

6. It was Frehley who came up with the original design for the KISS logo, that including making the “SS” look like lightning bolts. The design seemed harmless until they went to tour in Germany and found out that the SS looked a little too similar to the insignia of the Nazi SS uniforms. The SS symbol is outlawed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania and Israel. All albums and merchandise released in those countries feature the SS looking like two backward Zs.

7. “God of Thunder” from the “Destroyer” LP has always been Simmons’ signature song. It’s the song that plays at the point of a KISS concert where Simmons plays his bass solo and spits blood in the midst of some outrageous pyrotechnics

8. Katey Segal of “Married … with Children” fame was a backup singer on SImmons’ 1978 solo album. 

9. Two years before KISS was formed, it was just Simmons and Stanley performing around New York City under the name Wicked Lester. After they added Criss and Frehley to the new lineup, they started spitballing new names. Frehley liked “Albatross,” Criss suggested “Crimson Harpoon,” and Simmons’ favorite choice was just the F word. Eventually, Criss mentioned his old band was called “Lips” which inspired the eventual new name, “KISS.”

10. Despite his wild lifestyle, Simmons doesn’t drink alcohol or do drugs. He says he stays away from those vices in honor of his mother, who survived life in a World War II concentration camp.

2. At some point in our lives, I’m pretty sure we’ve all chewed bubble gum.

Have you ever wondered, however, why it is normally pink in color? Well, here’s the story:

In 1928, an accountant for the Fleer Chewing Gum Company began toying with new recipes. At the time, chewing gum was extremely sticky. But this accountant, a man named Walter Diemer, found a recipe that was less gluey and more stretchy, qualities that allowed him to do something unprecedented — blow bubbles. 

The color of the gum (the original “Dubble Bubble”) was supposedly born out of necessity. A diluted red dye was the only food coloring Diemer had available, which thankfully turned the grayish concoction the color we are familiar with today — pink.

3. Our Great Plate Debate 2023 license-plate rankings remain the same from a week ago:

  • Gold medal: U LIED.
  • Silver medal: STINK.
  • Bronze medal: PIZZA 4EV
  • Aluminum medal: 1 ELVIS
  • Cardboard medal: BATLADY

This week’s honorable mentions:

  • SITTER 7
  • BARB 76
  • MAGGS 50
  • SITTER 7

Steve Thought O’ the Day — Yes, I have my own favorite KISS songs. At the top of the list are “Rock and Roll All Night Long” and “Beth.”

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. He would have trouble with the platform boots.

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