09/29/2015

1975 Cadillac High School concert and parade: 'It was almost as if we landed on Planet KISS'

By John Gonzalez | MLive.com

Gene Simmons of KISS said he vividly remembers his band's Cadillac experience just like it was yesterday.

In 1975, the legendary rock band was busy touring when they got a request from football coaches at Cadillac High School, who used the band's music to get them pumped up for games.

And it worked. The teams in 1974 and 1975 were on a roll.

KISS traveled to Michigan for what would become a Cadillac KISS Army.

"We never imagined the entire town would dress in KISS make up. And the street would be renamed KISS Boulevard," said Gene Simmons in a recent interview with MLive.

"It was almost as if we were on a KISS Spaceship and landed on Planet KISS."

Now, 40 years later, "The Day KISS Came to Town" is being remembered again during Homecoming. This year's festivities include a KISS Monument Dedication, as well as a tribute band performance.

Gene and Paul Stanley hope to return soon, but their busy overseas tour keeps them from attending festivities the weekend of Oct. 9-10.

But he's never far from Cadillac High School, Simmons said.

As rumored for more than a year, the concert and whole experience is being made into a movie, called "Cadillac High," he said.

"It will happen, for sure," said Simmons of the movie, which will be produced by Mark Johnson ("Breaking Bad, "The Notebook" and "The Chronicles of Narnia").

"These things take time," he added. "Movies are very fragile."

Jim Neff, who was an assistant football coach at the time, and who was instrumental in making it all happen, said the band and the city will forever be connected.

"We're just so proud in Cadillac to have this association with KISS, and Gene and Paul and the whole KISS organization has just been so wonderful to us over the years," he said.

"And it's a really great honor for my 15 minutes of fame to last 40 years."

"I don't know what Gene thinks, but there is this love affair between Cadillac and KISS that never seems to stop."

"I would say it's a testament to Cadillac," Simmons said.

As for the movie, Simmons said "the story is not going to concentrate on KISS, trust me."

"It's really about how a small town, even though it's just a blip on the map ... actually had a bigger heart than the big metropolitan cities," he said.

"And for one day, the world stopped."

The movie would be "huge for us," Neff said.

"Our little town has really gotten a lot much recognition thanks to Gene, Paul and KISS. This would be just icing on the cake."

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