KISS has remained an enduring force since arriving on the rock scene with its 1974 self-titled debut album. The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have developed a legion of followers over the years known as “The KISS Army," a group of fans that have remained fiercely loyal to the band throughout its various incarnations. Here are five reasons why the legendary New York rockers have managed to maintain that huge fan base over the decades.
KISS was incredibly savvy when it came to finding creative ways to market the band. At a time when most bands limited their side ventures to hawking t-shirts and posters at concerts, the multi-platinum sellers took merchandise and marketing to a whole new level. The “Shout It Out Loud” hitmakers made millions selling pinball machines, masks, action figures, comic books and a seemingly endless array of KISS memorabilia to meet the insatiable needs of their adoring fans.
4. Live album
KISS did not become an overnight success. Despite their reputation for having a killer live show, the band's first three studio albums only achieved moderate chart success and critical acclaim. This changed completely with the release of 1975's Alive. Aided by the hit single “Rock and Roll All Night,” the landmark live release proved to be their breakthrough album, hitting No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and remaining in the charts for 110 weeks. “Guitar World” ranks Alive at No. 3 on their “Top 10 Live Albums” list.
3. Stage production
KISS built their early reputation on their elaborate live show. The band believed in delivering bang for the buck and employed a wide range of theatrics during their performances. While other bands would dress in street clothes and turn their back on audiences, KISS dazzled fans with elaborate stage make-up, wild costumes, fire-breathing, levitating drum risers and a host of other stage antics that helped them sell out arenas throughout the world.
Bolstered by the songwriting team of KISS co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, KISS has built up a hugely impressive back catalog of greatest hits and beloved album tracks. The band helped write the soundtrack of a generation for those who grew up in the 1970s and it's hard to go wrong with a list of arena rockers like “Detroit City Rock,” “Black Diamond,” “I Was Made for Lovin' You” and, of course, “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
1. Stage makeup and costumes
KISS' stage makeup and elaborate stage costumes helped make them among the most instantly recognizable rock bands on the planet. Each member created his own stage persona, which gave the band an aura of mystery and a larger than life presence on the stage. Although the band unmasked for commercial reasons in 1982, they returned to the greasepaint in 1995 and have continued to employ the characters in their live shows ever since, which has helped lend continuity to the band despite a number of member changes.