Kiss, usually stylized as KISS, is an American hard rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Easily identified by its members’ face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics. Kiss has had 24 gold albums to date in the USA. The band has sold more than 19 million albums in the United States, and their worldwide sales exceeded 100 million albums.
The 1973-’80 lineup of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss is the most successful and identifiable. With their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style characters: Starchild, The Demon, Spaceman or Space Ace, and Catman. The band explains that the fans were the ones who ultimately chose their makeup designs. Paul Stanley became the “Starchild” because of his tendency to be referred to as the “starry-eyed lover” and “hopeless romantic.” The “Demon” makeup reflected Simmons’s cynicism and dark sense of humor, as well as his affection for comic books. Ace Frehley’s “Spaceman” makeup was a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet. Peter Criss’s “Catman” makeup was in accordance with the belief that Criss had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn. Because of creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were out of the group by 1982. The band’s commercial fortunes had also waned considerably by that point.
In 1983, Kiss abandoned its makeup and profited from a commercial resurgence throughout the rest of the decade. Buoyed by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, the band announced a reunion of the original lineup in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide/Lost Cities/Reunion Tour was the top-grossing act of 1996 and 1997. Criss and Frehley have since left Kiss again and have been replaced by Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, respectively. The band continues to perform with makeup, while Stanley and Simmons have remained the only two constant members.
Kiss was named 10th, by VH1, on their list of the ‘100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.’ and 9th on ‘The Greatest Metal Bands’ list by MTV. Kiss is also inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.