I have never really been a joiner ever in my life. In high school the only club I was involved with was Spanish Club. I played football, wasn’t very good but I was determined to stick it out and letter and I did, about the only meaningful thing I did. I always kept my grades at a certain level, not ever wanting to be in the National Honor Society which probably took more energy than actually being in the National Honor Society constantly trying to figure out what grade I needed in each class so that I could stay out. I attended a few Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings, but always felt like I didn’t belong because I wasn’t really a believer or a church attendee and because it was the same group of guys who spent their time picking on people like me and generally being assholes. I could only put up with so much hypocrisy.
Some time in my 8th grade year Pete moved into my neighborhood. It was a local move and I knew him. With the move though came new friends. Pete had two step sisters that were gorgeous so going to his house just so you might say hello to one of them was a good thing to do. I never said hello, too shy and they were way over my skis. Pete lived in a hastily built room in the garage with no insulation. It was freezing in the winter time and burning up in the summer time. It always seemed to me as if he wasn’t really welcome in his own house but you could always hang out in Pete’s room coming through the side door. It was around this time that the group I hung out with started to drink on weekends, usually splitting a six pack of tall boys which usually was Schlitz. Yea yea I know but it was cheap and we were not rolling in the dough. Pete always got sick even if he drank just one beer.
Pete and his friends loved Kiss. I wasn’t into them at all until I started hanging out with them, then it sort of became something you had to do. I really got into them and strangely enough Pete started to be into other music. So one day while sitting around he asked me if I wanted his Kiss records. Naturally I said I did but if he changed his mind I would give them back. So I acquired two albums Kiss Alive, and Love Gun. I still have those albums. I listened to them all of the time and acquired a few more on my own.
For a short time Kiss was one of my bands. I loved them. For awhile as the intro to their concerts said, they were indeed the hottest band in the land. It was the show too more than the albums; that incredible stage show. They were masters of the four minute rock song churning them out. They were not sophisticated, not deep just rock and roll played hard and fast. They didn’t have the greatest musicians but in their heyday there was always the question of who the best was, Gene, Paul, Ace or Peter. I was always an Ace fan, and once he was gone I stopped listening but truthfully I was already moving on. Perhaps they were a rite of passage band or maybe just one of those trendy things we had to love.
In the early 80’s with the makeup off they released one of my all-time favorite songs and certainly my favorite Kiss song Lick it Up. Truthfully I still like much of their music; Love Gun, I Wanna Rock and Roll All Night, Black Diamond, Shout it Out Loud, Detroit Rock City and a host of others. Kiss has their place in rock and roll history. Are they the greatest band ever? Of course not. The Rolling Stones will always be the greatest rock band ever but music needed a band like Kiss, still does, We always need bands that play to the masses who play music you can take in easily and even get buddies together to play it in your garage.
Kiss will never again be my favorite band but they will always have a place in my heart. For a brief moment in time they were the greatest band ever. Whenever they come around on the playlist I drift back in time 40 years or so to Pete and other friends, to two step sisters that I wished had noticed me or maybe if I had just had enough nerve they could have really abused my ego by the cold shoulder of rejection. The arguments rattling around my head, Gene is the best, no Paul and no again it’s got to be Ace. It was deep philosophical questions under the influence of Schlitz beer “Do you think Gene really breathes fire?” No, you’re a moron for thinking that. “Yea but that blood is real right?” Sigh. “Do you think they walk around in that make-up?” Yea dude they do, all day every day it never comes off.
That’s the beauty of music. We will always make heroes of our rock stars, give them supernatural powers and believe the world begins and ends with them. Music is powerful, takes us back not always to good times but mostly. Regardless, if you are like me, one whose memories all revolve and are catalogued musically then music of all sorts is no doubt special to you and always will be, even the hottest band in the land.
For the record I never joined the Kiss Army either. Did you really have to ask?
But Ace was the coolest.