Friday, March 28, 2014

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 Some final thoughts on KISS and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


This is my third and final blog entry that will discuss KISS and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not that I’m tired of writing about KISS. I could probably do that every day. But over the past month, I’ve already done two music blogs on the Hall of Fame topic - which are linked below - and so with this, I am offering some final thoughts which I haven’t yet shared …

When I first heard that KISS had been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame about four months ago, it never occurred to me that the band would perform with the original lineup, in full makeup, at the induction ceremony. And the reason for that is that I honestly thought it would prohibit them from doing anything else that night. If KISS were going to come to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on April 10 with all of the makeup and the pyro - even if it were just for a few songs - then performing would probably be all they’d be able to do.

Sit with their wives and kids at the ceremonies and enjoy the festivities? Not happening.

Enjoy the performances of the other artists being enshrined? Not happening.

Be able to hang out all night and simply enjoy the fact that they were being honored and shake some hands with those offering congratulations? Not happening.

When KISS plays in full makeup and brings all of the pomp and the flash, it takes hours of preparation. And so, if that’s what they chose to do at the Hall of Fame induction, they’d be back in the dressing room most of the night, slapping on the garb and finalizing the logistics of the performance. And as a fan, that’s not what I really wanted for them. After 40 years of tremendous ass-kicking and great rock albums, I wanted them to be able to sit with their wives and kids at the ceremonies and enjoy the night. I wanted them to be able to enjoy the performances of the other artists being enshrined and just be able to hang out, like any other musician, and enjoy the fact that they were being honored. My thought: No need to be huddled up backstage all night getting ready to do the big KISS thing. You’ve been doing that forever. That’s why you're there. On that night, just enjoy the camaraderie of one another and the company of the other great artists in attendance.

If KISS did perform at the ceremony, which some Hall of Fame artists do, I always imagined it would be more like their performance at “MTV Unplugged.” Not that they’d have to be seated on stools and semi-acoustic – they could rock it, and that would be better – but I assumed they’d wear some cool rock-style clothes and when it was their turn to play, they’d get up and play. And so the fact that some KISS fans were disappointed to learn that the original lineup wasn’t going to slap on the greasepaint and try to blow the roof off the place seemed odd to me. Again, the thought of that happening had never even occurred to me, and not just because Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley haven’t played together in more than a dozen years and most of them don’t even like each other. I really thought the guys would enjoy the night more if they performed without their getups, and of course, back in December, I didn’t know that a reunion of the original four, even for just a few songs, was not something that Gene and Paul were interested in. But now that we all know that, and we know there will be no originals-only reunion, particularly in the makeup, I again say, ‘Who cares?’ In fact, by not appearing in the makeup and bringing the explosive arsenal, it opens up the opportunity for some much more cooler things to happen, should there be a last minute change of heart about not performing at all …

Seeing KISS in makeup tear through “Rock and Roll All Nite” amid an array of fireworks and confetti is always fun. But we’ve seen it many, many times on TV. We’ve seen it at the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the MTV Video Music Awards and every late night talk show.

What haven’t we seen?

A cool, totally-plugged, non-makeup performance of the original KISS lineup. I’ve never seen Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, fully plugged in, perform like that on stage. Nobody has. And even though it won’t happen quite like that, because Gene and Paul have clearly stated they won’t perform with just the original four in any capacity, that doesn’t mean that they still can't perform together in some way. How about if the original four play with current KISS members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer? That’s what Gene and Paul wanted to do anyway. Apparently they were actually willing to perform in makeup and costume with the current band, and then bring Peter and Ace out for a tune or two. But apparently most everyone later agreed that would be very odd for Peter and Ace, simply because only the original four are being enshrined in the Hall of Fame and because Thayer and Singer wear the same makeup styles that Peter and Ace helped make famous. But if you take the makeup and garb out of the mix, there’s nothing odd about it at all. It’s very similar to what they did for some of the “MTV Unplugged” show, though Bruce Kulick was the guitarist at the time. And if you do it again, you better invite Kulick, who played with the band for over a decade and remains a close friend. And maybe even invite former guitarist Vinnie Vincent, who helped write three great albums.

Now we’re talking about something special. Now we’re talking about something we’ve never seen before. And it would satisfy everyone.
Think about it:

1) The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at this point, would probably just be happy with a KISS performance of any kind, and the four guys they’re choosing to honor would indeed be performing together.

2) Gene and Paul seem intent on not slighting Thayer and Singer, who have done some fine work with the band for many years. This would take care of that. Though not inducted, they’d also be a part of the KISS/Rock and Roll Hall of Fame celebration. Gene and Paul have also talked about how other former members of KISS, particularly Kulick and the late Eric Carr, should also have been inducted. Well, the Hall of Fame doesn’t seem to listening, but a performance such as the one I’ve described would get Kulick into the celebration as well.

3)  Frehley and Criss have said they refuse to perform with current KISS members wearing "their" makeup. Well, that wouldn’t be happening. But if they really wanted to play for the fans, that would be happening.

So there you have it. One of the coolest KISS appearances ever, which gets the original four on stage together for one last time yet doesn’t slight anyone. And since the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is supposedly all about music, KISS could put the music first, just like they did at “MTV Unplugged” almost 20 years ago.

The songs would be at the forefront. 

But wait, there’s more …

By playing sans makeup and costume and just bringing their guitars, it also allows KISS a much better opportunity to be a part of any type of all-star jam that might take place at the end of the ceremonies. Let’s face it: If the band was on stage in full regalia and its seven-inch platform boots and towering over Daryl Hall and John Oates, that would look pretty weird. But by leaving the boots at home, there is potential for a very epic all-star jam at this event. And that’s because in addition to KISS, Nirvana, Hall & Oates and Cat Stevens, the mighty E Street Band is also being enshrined. And that means Bruce Springsteen might show up. And if Bruce Springsteen shows up, Bruce Springsteen is going to play. Imagine the show ending with KISS and The E Street Band on stage, and all of the other present inductees, with Dave Grohl bashing some drums while Paul Stanley and Bruce trade off verses of “Born to Run” or “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Imagine KISS, who have finally been asked to join a fraternity that they should have been asked to join 15 years ago, having a great time playing with someone like The Boss. Bruce loves that kind of stuff. We’ve all seen him do it at these Hall of Fame ceremonies before and at the big charity shows. He loves to have fun with other musicians, and if you saw the clips of him covering everything from AC/DC to The Bee Gees on his recent tour of Australia, you know his musical tastes are varied.

That would make for a very special night. A KISS performance with all past and current living members of the band, sans makeup, which properly showcases a few of their great songs. And then, perhaps a little fun at the end of the night with Bruce, Little Steven, Nils, Max and company. I’m sure - even for Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter -  that would be pretty damn cool.

Of course, none of this will probably happen. But I still hope, despite all of the tensions that seem to have arisen over all of this within the KISS camp over the past few months, that they still find away to enjoy themselves on April 10 in Brooklyn.

They do deserve it.

And that, as I said at the top, is all that really matters to me.

Other recent KISS-related blogs:

 1. KISS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Much Ado About Nothing:

2. KISS and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Who should give the speech?

3. A link to the three-hour radio special I hosted on KISS can also be found here:


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