The story of the first KISS show
By Joe Daly - Classic Rock / Contributions from Fraser Lewry
The Popcorn Club, Queens, New York, January 30, 1973. It's a bone-chilling Tuesday night in Queens as Kiss roll up to the Popcorn Club for the load-in at their first official show as Kiss. They've previously performed as Wicked Lester, who've been signed (and subsequently dropped) by Epic Records after recording a still-unreleased album.
“Paul and I weren’t happy with the record,” Gene Simmons told Classic Rock. “It had a West Coast American hippie sound. We looked at each other and decided to form a new group, which was Kiss.”
The name change came at some point between the booking of the Popcorn show and the performance itself.
“We didn’t have a manager,” Simmons remembered. “So I called the guy. ‘You won’t believe this band, Wicked Lester. They do original material and, if you want, we’ll stick in a Wilson Pickett song or an Otis Redding song.’ Over the phone I sold the band to him for thirty-five dollars. Never mind that getting the truck to move our equipment and all that was going to cost more, we just wanted to flex our muscles.”
"I remember very clearly when our picture went up on the outside of this club, Ace [Frehley] took a marker and wrote our new name right on the picture," Simmons wrote in his memoir Kiss and Make-Up. "The way he drew it was pretty crude, but it resembled our logo, with the two 'S's like lightning bolts at the end of the word."