Carson Gerber | Kokomo Tribune
PERU – Halloween night, 1974.
Dan Mongosa had just returned home from trick-or-treating around Peru when the sounds of a rock concert drifted from the Peru circus building to his backyard two blocks away.
“I thought, ‘That’s odd. What the hell is that?’” Mongosa said.
The then 10-year-old jumped on his bike and pedaled down to the building at 154 N. Broadway – the home to the Peru Amateur Circus – and snuck around to a back alley. The doors stood open, so Mongosa slipped inside.
On stage stood four guys with “dark, black, frizzy hair.” The music was deafening. One of the songs had something to do with firefighters.
After the third song, a roadie spotted Mongosa watching the show from the back of the building and told him to get lost. But before he left, Mongosa had to know: Who were these guys?
The roadie told him. The band’s name was Kiss.
“I said, ‘Kiss? What kind of name is that?’” Mongosa said. “It sounds like a girl’s lipstick.’”
That’s right. Kiss, the iconic American rock band known for their face paint and over-the-top live concerts that included fire breathing and blood-spitting, played a concert in Peru. On Halloween night. Inside the Peru circus building.
What followed became the stuff of local legend. The crowd stormed the gates before the show, forcing organizers to push back the start time. Police and firefighters ended up on scene after someone called to report people were drinking and smoking marijuana inside the building.
“It’s almost turned into an urban legend,” Mongosa said. “It’s like, ‘Did that really happen? It’s just one of those weird moments in life that you come across.
Today, it’d be tough to find someone who has never heard of Kiss, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, or at least heard one of their mega-hits like “Rock and Roll All Nite” or “Lick It Up.”
But in 1974, the rockers from New York City were virtually unknown. The band had just put on its first show in January 1973 for an audience of three in Queens, New York.
Christian McPhate | Observer
Kiss Destroyer, Texas’ premiere Kiss tribute band, has been performing across North Texas for more than a decade. When vocalist Robby Wayne (Paul Stanley), guitarist Bob Thomas (Ace Frehley), bassist Steve Cleere (Gene Simmons) and drummer Dave Bower (Peter Criss), took the stage at Lola’s Trailer Park in Fort Worth Saturday night, they planned to ignite it with rock ‘n’ roll in the name of a good cause, raising money for Hurricane Harvey victims.
They just weren’t expecting the fire to literally ignite their bassist during Saturday’s Blizzfest when, during the song “Firehouse,” Cleere blew a mouthful of Rum 151 at a torch he held in his right hand. As he lifted the torch in the air, he went a little higher than the 45 degree angle he normally aims for and blew. Then a gust of wind hit as a cloud of fire ignited in front of him.
The flames exploded on Cleere’s right shoulder when he dropped the torch to hit the next note on his bass. It spread like wildfire over his chest and toward his black-and-white painted face and and black wig.
“I have caught my hand on fire a number of times,” he says. “But it was the first time that it got on my chest and hair.”
After he put the flames out, Cleere told the crowd, “That’s my first time ever to catch on fire in 14 years.”
Cleere wasn’t injured.
“He wasn’t burned,” Thomas says, “but we could smell burning hair for a couple of songs.”
Thomas says their fan base has been waiting for something like this to happen. It’s happened to Simmons on several occasions over the years. The first time occurred on Dec. 31, 1973, when he debuted his fire-breathing antics. A roadie with a wet towel saved him.
Cleere has been blowing fire onstage since the tribute band first formed in the early 2000s. According to Cleere, when the band got together its members, who are now in their 40s, were lifelong Kiss fans who simply wanted to recreate some of the Kiss magic onstage. He figured playing what he calls “Champagne gigs” would be a way to earn more money.
John Hill | Loudwire
Chad Watson | Herald
It’s probably kind of difficult for the original “Spaceman” from KISS to remember exactly how many times.
Even more so in the “hottest band in the world”, as KISS still bill themselves after almost 45 years! (Cynics would suggest the band overheated long ago, then reheated and overheated again).
Frehley’s first rock ’n’ roll rescue came in the mid-1960s while he was still living with his family in the Bronx, where he grew up. He had been running with a gang called the Ducky Boys, daring to be dangerous, fighting in the street and dabbling in all sorts.
Now the Ducky Boys may sound quirky, quacky even, but they were serious. Deadly serious. Remember the cult film The Wanderers? Well, the Ducky Boys featured in that.
“I was growing up in the Bronx, you know, being in a gang and getting in trouble with the police.
“A lot of crazy shit went down. Luckily, I got out of it unscarred. When I started playing in bands, it got me away from that negative element.
“And it did save my life.”
When I look back at all the mistakes I’ve made, I feel I had to get through those mistakes to get where I am today … that’s why I don’t have any regrets.
Music helped Frehley escape the street violence but, in some way, he’s been fighting ever since.
First it was battling for survival in the music industry, then when he made it big (huge even), he had to contend with the ugly side of celebrity while duking it out with his own demons and knocking himself around with alcohol as well as prescription and illicit drugs – not to mention the supposed long-running KISS civil war over recognition, riches and reparation. Now he’s fighting for his legacy, or at least his lawyers have been, and a bright future.
Brett Buchanan | Alternative Nation
Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor revealed how he discovered KISS’ Gene Simmons is an asshole in a new Juxtapoz interview.
“Growing up in cultural isolation made me focus on what I wanted to do. I learned internally that playing music and expressing myself through music felt like a connection to my soul, and it made me feel good about myself. It felt like I tapped into something I needed to pursue.
I had a fairly mainstream, FM pipeline of music, but when I did find those influences at whatever age, they really resonated. For example, with a KISS album, my friends and I would pore over every clue that was on the physical thing. I didn’t know what they sounded like talking, because they weren’t on TV and there wasn’t internet. Limited access allowed you, the fan, to fill in the blanks, and the artists became who you thought they were. I started really trying to absorb the music and artists via their album covers, the liner notes, whatever bits of information, because again, you didn’t have that much information.
Danny Ross | Forbes
You’re never quite sure which Gene Simmons you’re going to get. In any given moment he can excoriate you, charm you or pitch you on his latest merchandise. It makes for an exhausting — but hopefully worthwhile — conversation.
On this particular occasion, Simmons was wheeling out (literally) the Vault Experience, a collector’s set that he’ll hand-deliver to fans. Simmons has made the media rounds plenty of times over the decades, so I aimed to ask him unique questions about the indie artist experience. Here’s our conversation:
Danny Ross: You famously said, “Rock is dead.” Did you mean that artistic integrity is dead in the millennial generation?
Gene Simmons: No. There’s more talent than ever before. But there aren’t trains moving because the railroad tracks have been eaten away by the fans. Fans have decided not to pay for downloading and file sharing. If there’s a grocery store, and you grab milk and eggs without paying for them, how long will the farmer, the trucker and the grocer stay open?
Ross: But do you think file sharing is the only thing responsible for the downfall of the industry?
Simmons: Yes. Legislation is far behind. It’s like someone coming into your home and taking your stuff. Washington understands invention and patents, but copyright they’re oblivious to.
Ross: How does an emerging artist succeed in today’s music environment?
Simmons: My heart goes out to them because it’s almost impossible. There’s a handful of YouTube stars, but you don’t see the hundreds of thousands of carcasses that are littered, the failures. So you see one kid with 30 million followers, but you don’t see the other people who have never made it. Whereas when there was a record industry, you could have hundreds of bands with platinum records.