Working dead-end jobs and barely getting by, two aspiring rockstars begin rehearsing in a beat-down warehouse. Quickly hooking concertgoers with their unmistakable sound and novel stage makeup, the New York City rock group is set to become one of the most popular bands of all time.
Episode written by J. Thorn, edited by Eve Paludan.
Recorded at 88.7 FM WJCU studios.
Audio mixed and engineered by Adam Phillips.
Produced by J. Thorn and Adam Phillips.
All research was conducted at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Library and Archives in Cleveland, Ohio, with a special thanks to Jennie Thomas, Director of Archives, William Jackson, Archives Assistant, Sule Holder, Library Assistant, and Laura Maidens, Librarian.
Rocker Chicks by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Chasin’ It by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Hot Rock by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
TV Drama Version 2 by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)
Cast of Pods by Doug Maxwell
Frame of Mine by Freedom Trail Studio
Gently, Onward by ELPHNT
Wonder by VYEN
Elementary Wave 11v2 by Erokia of freesound.org
Alien sky by X3nus of freesound.org
Car breaking skid 01 by Medartimus of freesound.org
Concert applause 2 by ultradust of freesound.org
Fireworks by inchadney of freesound.org
For a complete list of sources cited, see the show notes for this episode.
Sherman, Dale. KISS FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Hottest Band in the Land. Backbeat Books, 2012.
Leaf, David, and Ken Sharp. KISS: Behind the Mask: The Official Authorized Biography. Grand Central Publishing, 2005.
Sharp, Ken, et al. Nothin’ to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975). Itbooks, an Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2013.
Sherman, Dale. Black Diamond: The Unauthorized Biography of KISS. CG Publishing, 1997.
Simmons, Gene. Kiss and Make-Up. 1st ed., Crown, 2001.
Delaney, Sean, and Bryan J. Kinnaird. Hellbox. Xlibris Corp., 2004.
Wilkening, Matthew. “The Day Kiss Signed Their First Record Contract.” Ultimate Classic Rock, 1 Nov. 2013, ultimateclassicrock.com/kiss-first-record-contract/.
BraveWords. “KISS Frontman PAUL STANLEY Reflects On His Days As A NYC Cab Driver – ‘I Remember Driving People To Madison Square Garden To See ELVIS PRESLEY.’” Bravewords.com, bravewords.com/news/kiss-frontman-paul-stanley-reflects-on-his-days-as-a-nyc-cab-driver-i-remember-driving-people-to-madison-square-garden-to-see-elvis-presley.
“13 Classic Kiss Stories.” Performance by Bill Aucoin, YouTube, 3 July 2009, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kq2jtzOe1Bw.
I love these history lessons and you’re doing them so well. And I appreciate you didn’t do the easy ones of Beatles and Zeppelin.
I didn’t grow up with much music. My parents didn’t listen to much music. Christmas music, yes. I remember listening to Boxcar Willie on a car trip – yeah. My grandparents listened to polka and hearing Lawrence Welk’s bubble still usher up memories. But rock – no.
In fact, at 13 a friend introduced me to rock and the crazy notion that you could listen to it on the radio in the CAR! I didn’t even know you could do that with a radio. That was it – I devoured rock.
KISS was on the fringes for me. It was already mid-80’s and everyone knew of them, but I didn’t hear anything good. And they looked crazy. Not sure it was for me, as being a newly discovered rock listener.
Later, when I was approaching 20, I heard songs that were enjoyable – only later to find out it was KISS. I believe the first song I heard that I knew was KISS while listening was Beth. And I was confused. This is the devil worshiping heavy metal band? I listened to more – and laughed. These guys aren’t the hardest thing I’d ever heard – they played bubble gum pop with distortion!
Now I’ve listened to KISS and learned more about them and realized – hey, they were showmen that could hook you with a riff. They carved out a niche and stuck to it. And this piece brought even more insight into the band. Thank you.
I can see their struggle and perseverance being a nice reflection of anything you want to do, especially for me at this time, the publishing and writing world.
Ha! I agree about Beth. I’ll bet it confused a lot of people new to the band.
Love this podcast and especially this episode, J! My first concert was KISS, Lexington, KY 1979. I was 14. And I still have the T-shirt!
Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly get any cooler! Thanks, Stephanie. I really appreciate it 😉
Another great episode! I really like and appreciate the overview at the beginning about what was going on in the country and in music at the time. It helps to put everything into perspective and is a great reminder. And I love the drum intro! Very When the Levee Breaks. 🙂
So…Wicked Lester has to be one of the worst band names ever. A wise decision to lose that name. Yikes.
I was never a KISS fan, even though I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. I liked their songs that I heard on the radio well enough, but I never bought one of their albums or anything. I do remember being completely amazed by their look and stage show whenever I saw videos of them. When I was in fourth grade, during our free time, my friends and I got out some butcher paper and drew a huge picture of the KISS logo with little light bulbs in it and everything, along with a stage and all the guys on it in costume. We spent days drawing it! I wish I still had it.
The tale of KISS has an element that I’ve noticed in the stories of just about every successful rock band…at least one member of the band was extremely determined to make it. KISS had two.
I really liked the story of Sean Delaney and how he was instrumental in forming their image. I always like to hear about the people behind the big stars.
Thanks, Kim! Or should I say, KIMM. Ha!
That intro music is my old band and that’s Adam behind the kit 😉
You’re the second person to mention that sense of brutal determinism in each story. I think that has to be a theme for all creatives, no?