18 Wild and Shocking Facts About the Rock Band KISS

Kiss performing
The band KISS in Vitoria-Gasteiz, at the Azkena Rock Festival in 2010. Image by: Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz

Last updated on July 7th, 2023 at 06:51 pm

The fire-breathing American rock band, KISS is made up of rocker personas The Starchild. The Demon. The Spaceman. and The Catman. 

A KISS concert experience is theatrical, over the top, and everything fans hope it would be and more.

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, a genre sometimes called hard rock, KISS naturally pulls off some pretty insane things on stage, which you already know. But here are 18 pretty insane facts about the band you may not know.

1. The Band’s Logo had to be Altered in Some Countries

KISS is known all over the world, almost as recognizable as Mickey Mouse and Batman. As such, of course, it’s a given that they would tour across the ocean as well.

Their iconic symbol must not be used in countries where Nazi symbols are outlawed. 

This is because the S’s in the KISS logo were also present in Nazi material during World War 2.

2. Member Vincent Vinnie Used to Record Music for Television

In 1980, two years before he became a member when he replaced Ace Frehley, also known as 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 an Urban Legend

The legend, for those who don’t already know, was that the KISS bassist, Gene Simmons had a cow’s tongue surgically stitched onto his own 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. How They Got Their Name

KISS fans always thought KISS stood for “Knights In Satan’s Service,” but according to excerpts from Gene Simmons’ autobiography, this was untrue.

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

Before becoming part of Kiss, Gene Klein and Stanley Eisen were part of a different band called Wicked Lester. When they formed Kiss, they also changed their names to Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. 

5. Eddie Van Halen Nearly Replaced the Original Lead Guitarist Ace 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, 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 Owned an Arena Football Team

For three years, from 2013 to 2016, when the team ended their program, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons together owned the team along with their manager, Doc McGhee.

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.

Kiss performing
Kiss at LG Arena in 2010. Photo by Andrew King.

7. The Red Ink Used in Marvel’s First KISS Comic Book was Actually Blood

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 poured blood in the ink used in the production of the comics.

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 previously mentioned.

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

Kiss band backstage
A photo of the band Kiss backstage before a show in 1975. Photo by Casablanca Records.

9. One of the Members Can Barely Hear 

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 Started as 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 ’70s 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 to themselves as the KISS Army.

11. What the Band Members Looked Like was a Secret for 10 Years

Part of the reason their rock and roll music became famous is because of the look of the band, which kept all the member’s faces obscured. Although they didn’t officially appear without makeup in public until 1983 on MTV, they completed a photoshoot in 1974 which revealed their faces, but the pictures were never published. 

Once they appeared without makeup for MTV in 1983, the band stopped wearing makeup for an entire decade as they toured with their album Unmasked. Fans loved the makeup, however, bringing the band to eventually return to using it for every show. 

Kiss without makeup
Promotional photo of the band Kiss in 1984 without their signature makeup. Photo by Polygram Records.

12. The Line Up of the Band has Changed over the Years

When KISS was first formed in New York City in 1973 and contained original members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. Stanley was on vocals and rhythm guitar, Simmons played bass, Criss played drums, and Frehley did lead guitar and vocals.

Criss and Frehley would later leave the band to be replaced by Eric Carr and Tommy Thayer. And unfortunately, Eric Carr, whose first album with the band was Music From “The Elder”, is no longer alive, having passed away in 1991. He was eventually permanently replaced by Eric Singer. 

KISS also featured numerous temporary band members over the years from Vinnie Vincent to Bruce Kulick and Mark St. John.

Despite many of the new and temporary members taking the same look and stage presence as the original members, many fans will agree that the original lineup was the best. 

​13. KISS’ Infamy is Not Only Because of their Costumes

Although the members of the band look crazy while performing on stage in their animalized makeup, it isn’t just this look that brings fans together all over the world. It actually has more to do with the entire show put on in a single Kiss concert.

These rock ‘n’ roll performances contain fire breathing, blood spitting, smoke, and rockets just to name a few things! This idea of shock rock n roll was first put into motion by Alice Cooper, who would inspire Bill Aucoin, the manager of KISS to put on similar shows with his band. And what do you know, it worked!

Kiss in Nijmegen
An example of the pyrotechnics that can be seen at a Kiss Concert. This was taken in 2018 in Nijmegen by Tilly Antoine

​14. KISS Has Many Top Songs

Many people are put off by KISS’ strange look, but this doesn’t keep their songs from topping the charts. In fact, KISS is one of the best-selling bands of all time, having sold 75 million records. 

Their most popular KISS songs are as follows:

  • Rock And Roll All Nite (1975)
  • Detroit Rock City (1976)
  • Deuce (1974)
  • God of Thunder (1976)
  • Love Gun (1977)
  • Beth (1976) (Co-Written with Bob Ezrin)
  • Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  • Shout It Out Loud (1976)
  • Black Diamond (1974)
  • Rocket Ride (1977)

The most popular KISS album of all time is considered to be Destroyer as they had the most top 100 billboard hits in this album, but many fans also enjoy the albums Psycho Circus, Creatures of the Night, Lick it Up, and Dynasty.

​15. KISS Didn’t Want to be Associated with The Beatles

​In 1978, the KISS band was invited to participate in the Beatles musical, but they ultimately decided not to, as they were worried about their image. Aerosmith went on to accept the role. 

​16. Gene Simmons has a Solo Album

​Speaking of the Beatles, Gene Simmons tried to release a solo album in 1978 and asked all the former Beatles members to be a part of it. Reportedly they all declined, leaving Simmons to need to arrange other guest stars for his album. 

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed
Gene Simmons, bassist and co-lead singer of the rock band KISS; and his wife Shannon Tweed-Simmons, May 16, 2019. (DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

17. KISS Was in a Movie

The band KISS appeared as a band in the 1978 movie titled Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. The movie portrays the band as superheroes, and they use their superpowers to save an amusement park from being destroyed. 

18. KISS Will Retire

The members of KISS are getting old. Not only have they not produced any new music since their 2012 album Monster, but they also aren’t enjoying being on the road anymore. This was when Gene Simmons announced that their 2019 tour, End of the Road World Tour, would be their last. 

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.

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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