ROCK HALL FINALLY GETS IT RIGHT!
December 21, 2013
Written by Mike Knuth / Press-Gazette Media

I was watching my Twitter feed the other day when I saw something I didn’t think I would ever see. The words seemed to be staring back at me from the glow of my iPhone screen.

“Kiss to be inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

I closed my eyes and sighed. Finally, one of the great injustices of the century had been rectified.

OK, so maybe that is a bit dramatic, but the fact that Kiss was passed over for 15 years before finally making the grade did not sit well with me. The music critics and high and mighty at The Rolling Stone seemed to be dead set against allowing Kiss to join the ultimate club.

The Kiss Army has been at war on music blogs for more than a decade, and the legion of fans that has followed the “hottest band in the world” for 40 years will finally see the kings of face paint and flash pots formerly enshrined in ... wait for it ... Cleveland.

All joking aside, Cleveland is the place to be for those who want to be considered the best in the music business. Like Canton, Ohio, where the NFL’s legends are enshrined, Cleveland is home to the kings and queens of rock and roll. After selling more than 100 million albums worldwide, Kiss definitely belongs in Cleveland.

Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, the founding members of Kiss, are still alive, and if they don’t kill each other before the induction ceremony next year, perhaps they will perform together one more time clad in their trademark costumes and face paint.

Long before I began to worry about losing my hearing, I attended dozens of concerts, saw a little bit of everything, and had the time of my life listening to live music. My first concert was Kiss, which is a little like winning the lottery the first time you buy a ticket. It’s all kind of downhill from there.

In terms of a live act and a real rock show, Kiss has no equal. Kiss has never been known for its remarkable lyrics, vocals or the musical expertise of its members. But no band has ever been able to blend theater, drama, sex, love and rock and roll quite like Kiss.

In the late ’70s, when Kiss was truly at the top of the music mountain, my parents took my brother and me to Duluth, Minn., to see Kiss strut its stuff. It was a little like a comic book coming to life.

As surreal as the concert was, what I will always remember about that weekend was my first brush with greatness.

In 1979, before their album “Unmasked” hit the shelves, no one knew what Kiss looked like minus the makeup. The mystery was part of the legend. The afternoon before the concert, my brother and I were standing in the lobby of our hotel, waiting to get on the elevator. As the doors of the elevator opened, two men with long dark hair stepped out. It was none other than Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. With no fanfare, paparazzi or women clutching to their sleeves, Stanley and Simmons quietly walked out of the elevator and made their way to a limousine. These men were not mobbed because no one knew what Kiss looked like.

As I explained to my younger brother what we had just witnessed, he said “No way. How do you know it was them?”

With no offense to anyone in Duluth, I explained to my 13-year-old brother that no one had hair, clothes or the swagger that Paul and Gene had just displayed. It was a moment in time.

Years later, when photos of Kiss without the makeup became commonplace, I was able to go back to my brother and tell him that I was right. We did witness a miracle in that Duluth hotel lobby in 1979. What we didn’t know back then was that we were two feet away from two future Hall of Famers.

After many battles, the Kiss Army has won the war. Rock and roll justice has been served.