The Quintessential KISStory

Photo credits: Brian Lowe

If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you know that the Hottest Band in the Land is currently performing across the globe as a part of their “End of the Road World Tour” for the very last time. They kicked off their tour four years ago at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada, and a recent extension now sets the final concert date for December 2 2023 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The band is bringing their half a century of rocking to a full-circle ending. 

KISS’ intricate black and white makeup combined with their flamboyant stage performances and heavy rock sound have captivated fanatic concertgoers since the early 70s. If you’ve been around long enough, at any point in the last 50 years, you’ve probably heard some of their greatest hits playing on the radio. “Detroit Rock City,” “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” and “Rock and Roll All Nite” are just a few all-time staples. The masked musicians have been diligently writing and performing their own music since 1973 when Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss founded the rock band in New York City. 

Although KISS has been largely influential throughout American music culture for the majority of their career, their beginnings were far humbler. Active from 1970, the group started off under the name “Wicked Lester,” originally comprising the notable members, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Dissatisfied with the band’s direction, they broke off to pursue their own career in 1972. Over the course of the next year, drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley auditioned for the band and cemented their positions as founding members of the now-legendary rock and roll group, KISS. 

The extravagant, flashy stagework of the quirky rock band has undoubtedly helped popularize the glam rock genre, and though they aren’t known for it now, they have always been a simultaneously trend-following and trend-setting group. Admittedly, it’s the showmanship and creative stage personas more than anything else that makes the group the driving force of infusion between glam and hard rock. It’s their pyrotechnics and guaranteed ridiculously powerful concert experiences that pushed arena rock to its absolute extreme, and allowed for the true, authentic punk rock genre to diversify and flourish.

With 20 studio albums and six singles spread over the course of their 50-year career, there is plenty of pop, rock, disco, and even grunge to suit everyone’s preferences. KISS’ 1976 studio album, “Destroyer,” has been highly praised by both critics and fans alike as a hard-rock staple that stands out thanks to its diverse use of different sounds and top-notch tracklist. The two anthems that sprung from this project, “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout It Out Loud,” alone are enough to catapult “Destroyer” to the top of any rankings. But then having Peter Criss’s ballad “Beth” and positively explosive “King of the Night Time World” all but seal the deal. 

KISS will perform fewer than just 50 more times before hanging up the seven-inch leather heels for good, rounding out their total number of performances to just shy of 3,000. The most accessible concert for Oregon residents is November 6 at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington.

If you’ve yet to get your fix of this quirky masked quartet, you have until the end of this year to join the KISSteria and make your way into the “Hottest show on Earth.”