And launches New York City's first "worldwide musical phenomenon."
By Brian Ives
In Not Fade Away, we take a look at the legacy of some of the greatest albums of the past few decades – some iconic, some lesser known – as they celebrate significant anniversaries. Here, we look back at KISS‘ 1974 debut album which turns 40 this week.
About two years ago, Bruce Springsteen started his epic keynote speech at South By Southwest by discussing some of the most divisive artists in rock music. He mentioned Phish, he mentioned himself, and he mentioned KISS. He said there are two ways you can look at the self-proclaimed “hottest band in the world.” He said, “You can say, ‘Early theater rock proponents, expressing the true raging hormones of youth,’ or ‘They suck!’” And that’s pretty much how it is with KISS: you can love them, or hate them, but they’re very hard to ignore. However, that wasn’t always the case.
Although the band’s principles, Gene Simmons (bass/vocals) and Paul Stanley (guitar/vocals) are from New York City, there’s a reason that one of their biggest hits is written not about any of the five boroughs, but about Motor City, U.S.A. “We didn’t make it in New York,” Simmons told Radio.com in a recent interview. “We made it in Detroit. New York is a little too high-falutin, too full of itself.”
“It bears noting,” he says, “That New York City, perhaps the most important city on the face of the planet, never gave the world a worldwide musical phenomenon that could play stadiums and arenas around the world, other than KISS. Not one,” perhaps forgetting about Jay Z and Alicia Keys, to name two. “There’s the (New York) Dolls, the Ramones and other club bands. Blue Oyster Cult was from Long Island, and even they never played stadiums. New York City gave the world nothing. Detroit – not a major city – gave the world Grand Funk Railroad, which played Shea Stadium. Not a New York band ever played there,” although, Long Island’s Billy Joel had, in fact, headlined the former home of the New York Mets.