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10 wild and shocking facts about rock band KISS

The Starchild. The Demon. The Spaceman. The Catman. The fire breathing, blood spitting, rocket shooting American rock band, KISS, knows how to leave their mark on you one way or another if you ever see them in concert.

A KISS show is more of an experience than anything else, in large part due to the fantastical and theatrical stage sets and shock rock gags they’re known for.

KISS isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a rock band for a select few people who already love this type of thing. Whether it’s GWAR or Meat Loaf, you have to have an appreciation for show rock to understand why it’s pretty much the best thing ever for those who love the band.

As a shock rock band, KISS naturally pulls off some pretty insane things on stage, which you already know. But here are 10 pretty insane facts about the band you may not know.

1. The band’s logo has to be altered in several countries that outlaw Nazi symbols.

KISS is known all over the world, as recognizable as Mickey Mouse and Batman. As such, of course, it’s a given that they would tour across the ocean as well. But did you know that their iconic symbol has to be changed when used in countries like Germany and Israel, places where any and all Nazi symbols are outlawed?

This is because the double, lightning bolt-shaped S’s in the KISS logo were also used by Nazi Germany’s Schutzstaffel during World War 2—a paramilitary organization under Hitler himself.

2. Member Vincent Vinnie, known as “The Ankh Warrior,” used to record music for television.

In 1980, two years before he became a member when he replaced Ace “the Spaceman” Frehley, Vinnie moved to Los Angeles and used his talent to become a staff songwriter for the television series Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, believe it or not.

Vinnie wrote a lot of the show’s songs by acoustic guitar while sitting at the Cunningham’s famous kitchen table on the set of Happy Days.

Photo by Tommy Allen Williams

3. Gene Simmon’s infamous tongue is so long there has been an urban legend about it for decades.

The legend, for those who don’t already know, was that KISS bassist Gene Simmons had the tongue of a cow grafted onto his tongue to lengthen it.

If you think about it, if this was true (considering just how big cows are), he would have to have his mouth surgically enlarged in order to fit even a small piece of the bovine’s licker in there.

The truth is, Gene’s signature 7 inch tongue is something he was just born with, noticing it for the first time when he was a teen, which he claims “came in handy with the girls.”

4. The idea to name the band KISS was pretty anti-climactic.

For years, KISS fans believed that the band’s name was an acronym for “Knights in Satan’s Service,” but according to Gene Simmons in his autobiography, this is as false as the rumor he had a piece of cow tongue grafted onto his.

In reality, when he, fellow founding member Paul Stanley, and drummer Peter Criss were driving around New York, Criss mentioned he was in a band called “Lips.”

After some deliberation, Stanley asked something like, “What about Kiss?”

5. Eddie freakin’ Van Halen nearly replaced the original lead guitarist Ace “the Spaceman” Frehley.

Disillusioned with Van Halen’s new sound at the time Ace left KISS, Eddie approached Gene, telling him that he wanted to leave the band.

Gene eventually talked Eddie against it, claiming, and we quote, he “cast too much of a shadow to be the guitar player in KISS.”

Still though, could you imagine if old King of Ten Fingers and Six Strings was onstage in black and white makeup, shredding as a member of KISS?

6. They once owned an Arena Football league team.

For three years, between 2013 and 2016 when the team folded, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons shared ownership of the team with manager Doc McGhee. The team played their home games at the Honda Center near Anaheim, which they shared with the famous hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks.

The team and its roster were liquidated during the offseason in October of 2016, the band pulling their support after the end of the season prior.

7. The red ink used in the first KISS comic book published by Marvel Comics had blood from the current members mixed into it.

This sounds like another one of those urban legends, but we swear it’s true. According to Gene Simmons, the members flew up to Buffalo to Marvel’s printing plant, where they actually pour the ink used in production of the comics.

This is public record as a notary actually witnessed the blood being drawn.

8. Critics have always hated the band.

Most critics, not understanding the antics performed by the band on stage and not particularly impressed by their musical ability, have never had any real love for KISS. Their core fan base (The KISS ARMY), however, thinks they are pretty much the best thing in the world as mentioned before.

The argument can be made that the fans are very much responsible for the band’s lasting endurance over three decades.

9. One of the members can’t hear out of one of his ears.

Founding member Paul Stanley was born without any hearing in his right ear and has had to wear an implanted hearing aid most of his life.

He was born with Level 3 Microtia, a deformity of the cartilage of the outer ear. Because of this, he is virtually deaf on his right side, as there is no access for any sound to enter.

10. The KISS Army came about from a group of protesting fans.

Anyone who knows KISS knows that their fans are affectionately referred to as the ‘KISS Army.’ This name first came about in the early 70’s in Indiana when a local radio station refused to play songs from the band.

A group of fans started protesting by marching outside of the radio station, referring themselves as the KISS Army.

Maybe you knew some of those facts, but you could not have known all of them. All in all, KISS has a long, interesting history that has always been worth looking into, if you dare to look. And no, we still can’t believe Eddie freakin’ Van Halen was almost part of their line-up.

Bo Weber
Author: Bo Weber

Positive energy-seeking Minnesotan who finds joy in songwriting, graphic design, writing, videography, eating plants, and living in a van down by the river.

Written by Bo Weber

Positive energy-seeking Minnesotan who finds joy in songwriting, graphic design, writing, videography, eating plants, and living in a van down by the river.

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