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More than 100 Million Albums Sold, 28 Gold Records: KISS is No Joke

What can really be said about KISS? Wikipedia perhaps sums it up best:

…the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s with their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics.

The band was formed by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons in 1973. The profile says that the band – including some solo records by members — has 28 gold albums. That’s the most by any rock band.  Its website says that the band has sold more than 100 million albums. KISS was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame last year, its 15th year of eligibility.

The KISS site does a nice job. Instead of a profile, it offers a bullet-pointed history. Stanley and Simmons were members of an early 1970s band called Wicked Lester. In 1972, they saw an ad in Rolling Stone from a who “is looking to do anything to make it.” That was Peter Criss, and the duo become a trio. In January 1973, guitarist Ace Frehley auditioned and joins the band. The trio was a quartet.

Wicked Lester became KISS – Stanley came up with the name – and Frehley designed the prototype KISS logo.

KISS was the first act Neil Bogart signed to Casablanca Records. Before he died at 39, Bogart was instrumental in the careers of Donna Summer, The Village People, T. Rex and George Clinton and Parliament. He also founded Boardwalk Records and signed Joan Jett and Harry Chapin.

There is only one KISS. That may, ultimately, be a good thing. But it also is a good thing that there is one of them.

Above is “Rock and Roll All Nite” and below is “Shout It Out Loud.”

Wikipedia entries on KISS and Neil Bogart and the KISS website were used in to write this profile. Homepage image: NMiranda.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.

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What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.

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The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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