Tag Archives: Kiss

Hall Of Fame

While recently perusing The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame website I found their criteria for bestowing the prestigious honor. To be considered for induction into the Hall of Fame, established in 1983, the artist under consideration must have released their first recording at least 25 years prior to their nomination. There are typically five to seven artists chosen annually from the ballots of 600 people comprised of other artists, historians, and members of the music industry. The listed essential qualifications for induction into The Hall are musical excellence, and the influence and significance of the artists’ contributions. That sort of standard for admittance seems somewhat confusing because the quality and importance of any given artist is mostly subjective. Determining who is worthy of such an honor is about as easy as trying to solve a Rubik’s cube, unless of course you’re one of those puzzle freaks, and probably explains why I couldn’t find any consistent correlation between those who have been inducted and those who have not.

I am not attempting to challenge the merits of previous inductees, but I would like to know why similar artists aren’t included, and I would also like to explore what I find to be some noteworthy omissions from The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jackson Browne and Cat Stevens are winners of the award but many others who have sold more records, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and who appear more deserving of the honor continue to remain on the sidelines. I thought I had possibly solved the mystery of the real reason for their induction after discovering both Mr. Browne and Mr. Stevens were not only singer-songwriters but were humanitarians as well. However, upon further investigation I ascertained John Denver likewise was regarded as a humanitarian, and he had comparable record sales, yet he has continued to be overlooked. Another inductee with similar talents, James Taylor, has acquired only one #1 song and zero #1 albums throughout his lengthy career compared to Mr. Denver’s four #1 songs and three #1 albums obtained during his tragically shortened career. Those two artists are tied on the R.I.A.A. list, so I don’t understand how John Denver can be excluded.

I also cannot comprehend how some bands like the Pretenders, Talking Heads, and Steely Dan made the cut while so many other groups with equal or better record sales have not. The Eighties’ band, Loverboy, and the Spice Girls have very similar figures (obviously, only in a financial sense) to that of Steely Dan’s, but I would be extremely leery of adding either Loverboy or the Spice Girls to the elite club; therefore, maybe Steely Dan should lose their Hall of Fame status. I guess I did decide to challenge the validity of some inductees after all, didn’t I? I could present a strong case for the inclusion of Foreigner, Chicago, Journey, Motley Crue, and Bon-Jovi over current Hall of Famers such as Genesis, Heart, The Police, and even The Who when taking into consideration the amount of sales and the number of chart-topping hits. During my extensive research, as much as my laziness would allow, I was surprised to learn Cheap Trick was not nearly as successful as I had assumed. I found out they weren’t all that revered in the United States, but they were referred to as the “American Beatles” by the Japanese press.

Speaking of the Beatles, I learned something very interesting about them in my Rock and Roll History class during my one year of community college. Brian Epstein, who coincidentally was one of the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees, was managing the Beatles in January of 1963 when he had a brilliant idea for the not yet thriving band from Liverpool. Up to that point the Beatles had only achieved moderate success with the release of their first single, “Love Me Do,” so Mr. Epstein purchased all 10,000 copies of their next recording, “Please Please Me,” which during that time was the magic number to force a #1 ranking on the London charts. The “manufactured hit” then created a major buzz in the U.S., and led to the beginning of Beatle mania which continued throughout America for many years thereafter.

I can appreciate the Beatles and their influence on Rock and Roll, and I can even respect the genius of Brian Epstein, but the band was slightly before my time, and I must admit I only care for a handful of their songs. I also confess, at the risk of being slammed by music lovers everywhere, that I do not have even one Beatles’ cd in my entire collection of approximately 1,100 compact discs. Beatles’ fans shouldn’t fret too much though since my extensive music collection is also void of other Hall of Famers including The Who, The Doors, Pink Floyd, and Nirvana. I am painfully aware of Nirvana’s contribution to the history of Rock and Roll, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. In fact, I actually despise the band because of it. Those flannel wearing, grungy guys were almost single-handedly responsible for killing the Glam Metal craze, or as I typically refer to it as the greatest music of all-time.

We all have our favorite artists, and preferred style of music, but trying to sort it all out for the purpose of determining who qualifies for induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an impossible task. I don’t have a better alternative to the current nomination process, but it does seem like something needs to change. KISS guitarist and vocalist, Paul Stanley, mentioned in his recent Hall of Fame acceptance speech he would like for the fans to have a more significant role in the election process than the “old guys” on the committee who don’t even buy music anymore. In addition, he believes his band would have been inducted many years sooner if that had been the case. I don’t disagree with the rock star’s logic of allowing the fans to have a stronger voice in the matter, but my greatest fear would then be knowing what might happen twenty-some years from now with the vast number of “Beliebers” running rampant out there. Enough said.


KISS

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently inducted nine new artists including the legendary but controversial “psycho circus” that is KISS as members of its elite institution. Many say this honor is a long time coming, they’ve been eligible since 1999, but others argue there is no place for a band like them in the Hall of Fame. I was close to finishing my tenure at Aurora Heights Elementary School when I first learned of the make-up wearing foursome. I’m not exactly sure how I discovered them, or how I was even able to, since my mother was still listening to her Beatles records, my father was and assumingly always will be stuck in the 1950’s, and my older sister was listening to the hippest Disco music of that era. On second thought, I probably received my KISS education on the school playground (quite fittingly) where a young boy can learn a lot about life during recess.

Ricky, whose last name is being withheld to protect the innocent (or more likely in his case the guilty) always seemed to be the one kid teaching the rest of us the important happenings in pop culture. I remember once when he was sent to the principal’s office after bringing KISS’ Love Gun album to school because it included a cheesy cardboard cut-out of a “love gun” packaged in with the record. I guess even way back then the schools frowned upon having guns on campus. I recall Ricky having to make another trip to the principal’s office for bringing his Farrah Fawcett poster to school and showing it off to all of us hot-blooded male classmates who were eagerly awaiting our turns to take a peek. He had the classic poster with Farrah posing in a swimsuit. My parents only allowed me to have the one with her wearing blue jeans and a white sweater, but of course that did not stop me from hanging the treasured picture above my bed.

Because of Ricky I knew about KISS, but the first time I really experienced the group for myself was when I purchased their album, Rock And Roll Over, which at the time was only the second record I had ever bought. The Hard Rock album was most definitely in stark contrast to the first record I had previously acquired, Endless Summer, by the Beach Boys. I certainly was never a big fan of their style of Surf music, so I must’ve gotten it only because I knew it would’ve met with my parent’s approval; therefore, I have absolutely no idea how I got away with owning a KISS record on my parent’s watch. Maybe because the album cover was cartoon-like in appearance; hence, not showing the full magnitude of the band’s scary persona, or possibly my parents simply had more pressing issues to deal with at the time.

Either way KISS had become my favorite band, at least for awhile, and I still thought the group was somewhat cool several years later when one winter I taped a photo of them to the inside of my high school locker. The picture captured all four members wearing black attire with a generous portion of artificial snowflakes falling down on and around them. Written in bold, blood red lettering on the accumulated fake snow, mounded in front of them at the bottom of the photo, was the clever and seasonably relevant phrase, “Merry Kiss-mas!” I thought the picture, taken from a music magazine, was awesome, but many of my peers thought it was lame and had no trouble telling me so.

KISS was and still is quite tame, compared to many if not most Rock and Roll bands, especially by today’s standards. Sure they’ve written countless songs featuring double-entendres, and I believe they coined the phrase, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.” However, they have rarely used profanity in their songs and never the f-bomb that I am aware of. The majority of their songs seem to be less focused on complicated lyrical content and aimed more towards simply rhyming words, but most importantly the band longs for their audience to feel like partying every day. Gene Simmons, bassist and vocalist, as well as the fire-breathing and blood-spitting member of the band freely admits KISS has always been about capitalism. He has done so in the past and will continue doing anything for a buck such as silly movies (check out “KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park” sometime), reality television, and stamping the KISS logo on every type of merchandise known to mankind including genuine coffins for burying the ultimate KISS fans.

I thought KISS was harmless enough, so I never read all that much into their perceived aura. The church I attended during my youth obviously felt differently about it because I can remember one particular weekend when my Sunday School class devoted the entire hour to denouncing Rock and Roll music to all of us teenagers in attendance. I was told AC/DC stood for bi-sexuality, The Eagles’ hit song, “Hotel California,” was an ode to the devil, and KISS was actually an acronym for Knights In Satan’s Service. I’m not sure how much merit any of those claims hold true that my youth pastor made so many years ago, but interestingly enough all three of the aforementioned artists are now members of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For me, the excitement of KISS has long since worn off, like the intricate make-up that once graced their faces, but there’s not one doubt in my mind a band like them has earned their place in history as inductees into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.