: THEY CAME WITH STRANGE FACES
November 12, 2012
This story appeared in Argentina's "Pagina 12" newspaper. The author shares the story of his first introduction to KISS as a young child.

by Chino Laborde
Translated from Spanish for KISSonline by Jill Cataldo

Fate gave me the good fortune to have been raised in a home with lots of music in the air. I couldn't escape hearing music on the turntable, the radio, or television. My maternal grandfather, lover of horses, amateur musician, played the concertina wonderfully.

In my house, live music was played in a variety of different formations (duet, trio, quartet, guitars, violins) and these instruments opened my eyes and ears as they were used to recreate the Tangos. To these were added the voices of my aunt, my mother and many other relatives and neighbors who came over, usually on Saturdays, to play with the Sarandi horse blacksmith in Avellaneda. We roasted prawns and sang for long periods of time the wonderful poetry and music of the 20th century, which bequeathed to us the great creators of that exceptional genre: the tango.

Then came the year 1980. I was seven, almost eight years old, when suddenly, the concertina stopped: my grandfather Pepe, my first idol, left us physically. In a very natural way, his tango and all his wealth passed, and my home was mourning. The house was silent.

I, as an only child, had already found a close friend in the TV. It was the beginning of the era of the music video, yet there was no remote control yet for zapping. And, for the kid who believed the whole world of music was a man opening and closing a concertina on his lap, exhaling melancholic melodies (again, I love music), an unexpected and revealing event took place.

What I saw on the screen suddenly were some "human beings" dressed in a bizarre manner with their faces hidden under white makeup and black ink, clutching extravagant guitars, very different from the music that I knew. They jumped and oozed mystery, a sort of magic, something to decode. It was a thunderous, aggressive sound, sensual and sexual, sung in a language completely unknown to me.

It was the arrival of rock in my life; in short, a revolution inside my head and my blood. It was the first time that I encountered the macabre, Dante-esque picture of these New Yorkers: KISS!

A little alien, a little superhero, a little masculine, a little feminine, singing a song with a hyperactive melody that instantly nailed me in the center of my being: "I Was Made For Lovin' You." The song that, with the passage of time, transformed into my personal KISS anthem. The song that will accompany me for all eternity.

This song became my before and after. This is the song that everyone (I think) can sing or dance to forever, wherever we are, whenever we hear it. Something inside me said that that this melody was universal, absolute, totalitarian, present and future; that this was the music of the Gods, the universal anthem of the adult world looked at through the eyes of a seven-year boy, obviously fascinated. My great Revelation.

Life also gave me the possibility of witnessing "I Was Made for Lovin You" performed by the rockers live several times in my country, but I remember with joy and rejoiced that first time. After a failed attempt back in August of '83 - Argentine soldiers were in flight and the "clergy" came through - in September of ' 94 the marvelous quartet hit Argentine land as part of the first Monsters of Rock lineup.

Fronted by Slayer, Black Sabbath, and others, bands played at River Plate to the delirious and unspeakable satisfaction of all who realized that fantasy we'd longed for: to finally have our "close encounter of the third kind" with our heroes, rockers of our childhood and adolescence. And hear our KISS anthem. More "pluses:" being enchanted three days later in Obres Sanitarias that same year. And it all began with my mother, one of the daughters of my first idol: my grandfather Pepe, horse blacksmith and amateur concertina player.

Thanks to that song, today I'm happy. And I'm singing rock. Thanks to that song.