Gene Simmons on why KISS loves St. Louis

Love them or hate them, for more than 40 years it's been impossible to ignore the rock band KISS. And, like it or not, you should know that Gene Simmons and the rest of KISS truly love St. Louis.

"Oh absolutely," Simmons told KSDK's Pat McGonigle this week.

Simmons is promoting a new satirical biography titled, "Gene Simmons is a Powerful and Attractive Man & Other Irrefutable Facts".

"Listen, in 1974 nobody knew who we were," Simmons explained. "And the first time we played St. Louis it was in a big open field (Forest Park) and nobody had any clue who we were. But we had this message to take to people that boring rock and roll didn't belong on the stage. Love us or hate us, we will not bore you.

The 1974 "Kite Fly" concert in Forest Park, featuring KISS, is a chapter in St. Louis rock and roll lore that Mark Klose from The Dave Glover Show on 97.1 will never forget.

At that time Klose worked for KSHE-95, the organizer of the "Kite Fly" concert.

"I picked them up at Lambert in a Ford Econoline van without any seats in it," Klose recalled this week. "They didn't have the signature makeup on, but they were in platform shoes and a lot of leather. We got some stares."

At that point in the band's history, KISS had never played before a crowd larger than 1,000 people. The crowd in Forest Park on March 29, 1974 eventually swelled to about 40,000 Klose estimates.

Gene Simmons and KISS may have shown up for that gig in a big church van, sitting on the floor. But Simmons says they left feeling like legitimate rock stars for the first time. And the band continues to show its gratitude to St. Louis with stops here on almost all of its American tours. KISS is about to embark on a tour across South America and Europe with no U.S. dates currently on its schedule.

"St. Louis has always meant great memories for us," Paul Stanley told KTRS radio last year.

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