The incredible, untold story of the 1975 KISS concert in Hartland
We begin with a mea culpa. As an editor at the local newspaper for 26 years (1983-2009), and as someone who has remained active and involved in the community since then, I arrogantly considered myself to be an expert on everything cool that has ever happened in Livingston County.
But until last week, I did not know that KISS performed a concert in Hartland back in 1975. Shame on me for not knowing that. I have no excuse for this – no excuse at all – and I am extremely chagrined and humbled.
I mean, this is one of the coolest events in Livingston County history – for God’s sake, we’re talking about KISS here – and I didn’t know anything about it? What the hell?
How did I not know this? Why didn’t one of you people tell me about it? How could this have happened?
What makes this whole situation even more outrageous is that the story of KISS’ 1975 concert in Hartland is a flat-out fascinating story all the way around that doesn’t just involve KISS performing a concert in Hartland. It also features a sketchy venue owner, a community that went ballistic when it happened, public urination, some outrageous letters to the editor, and, of course, drugs.
This story also features ANOTHER legendary rock band that performed a concert in Hartland just three weeks after the KISS concert. And I didn’t know anything about that one, either.
So as I sit here kicking myself in the rear for not knowing about any of this, I’m now going to tell you the fascinating story of the 1975 KISS concert in Hartland. Sit back and relax, because this is a good one.
First, a little background on KISS. The group formed in 1973, and the original four members were Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. The group toured a lot and released a couple albums in 1973 and 1974, but according to the Internet, it was 1975 when the band really started to skyrocket to fame. So when the band came to Hartland in April of 1975, it was just starting to become huge. As in, REALLY huge.
On March 19, 1975, KISS released its album “Dressed to Kill,” which included the song that would become the group’s anthem and best-known song ever, “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
That same day, the band also launched its Dressed to Kill Tour with a concert at the Roxy Theater in Northampton, Pa.
After three more tour stops (in New York City; Kenosha, Wisc.; and Toledo), the Concert That I Never Knew Anything About came to Hartland, Michigan.