B-movie monsters, IQ tests and The Village People: 50 obscure Kiss facts only hardcore Kiss fans know

Kiss’s classic 1970s line up
(Image credit: Fin Costello/Redferns)

Kiss may have (allegedly) played their last ever gig in human form, but their legacy remains indisputable. The band played their very first show on January 30, 1973 at the Popcorn Pub in Queens, NY. To mark 50 years of the band, here are 50 facts only Kiss konnoisseurs will know.

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1. To make money in their early days, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley sang a radio jingle for GMC trucks.

2. Paul and Gene’s first time on record: backing vocals on a Lyn Christopher album in 1973.

3. The cover of Wicked Lester’s abandoned album was reused by late-70s band Laughing Dogs.

4. Kiss bought their original studded belts and collars at S&M stores and pet shops in Greenwich Village.

5. Band names considered before Kiss: Lips, Albatross, The Crimson Harpoon and Fuck – the latter, inevitably, suggested by Gene.

6. Gene unveiled his fire breathing act at New York’s Academy Of Music on New Year’s Eve, 1973…

7. …Sadly, it didn’t go entirely as planned: the side of his head went up in flames.

8. The God Of Thunder nearly had a different career – the young Gene Simmons wanted to be a rabbi.

9. Kiss’s first single, Nothin’ To Lose, was about anal sex. ‘I thought about the back door’ is the giveaway.

10. Kiss’s first major press coverage wasn’t in a music magazine. Nope, it was in Mandate – a gay mag.

11. Kiss’s Firehouse was inspired by The Move’s Fire Brigade – written by Roy Wood, one of Paul Stanley‘s idols.

12. The classic “You wanted the best, you got the best” intro was ‘inspired’ by the slogan from a Toyota ad.

13. Gene’s stage movements were inspired by Ymir, from sci-fi film 20 Million Miles To Earth.

14. Funk legend George Clinton wore Gene’s boots for a 1974 album promo by his band Parliament.

15. Kiss were duped into an ‘unmasked’ photo session for Creem magazine in 1974 when photographer Charlie Auringer told them their manager had agreed to it. He hadn’t

16. Kiss’s second album, Hotter Than Hell, was originally titled The Harder They Come.

17. Ace Frehley’s solo on She was a lift of Robby Krieger’s solo on The Doors’ Five To One

18. …while his lead on Love Gun cops from the Blues Magoos’ late-60s hit We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet.

19. Paul Stanley’s debut as lead guitarist on a Kiss song? C’mon And Love Me, from Dressed To Kill.

20. Stevie Wonder’s Fingertips Part 2 inspired Paul Stanley’s rap on the Alive! version of 100,000 Years.

21. One of the mooted titles for 1976’s Destroyer album? Dynasty.

22. The voice of the newscaster at the beginning of Detroit Rock City? Producer Bob Ezrin.

23. The bass line on Detroit Rock City echoed Curtis Mayfield’s hit Freddy’s Dead.

24. Alice Cooper’s guitarist Dick Wagner played acoustic guitar on Kiss’ 1976 hit Beth.

25. Gene Simmons’s signature song God Of Thunder was originally written for Paul Stanley to sing.

26. Bob Ezrin’s sons Josh and David appeared on God Of Thunder. It wasn’t their debut on an album produced by their dad – they’d also appeared on Lou Reed’s Berlin.

27. Kiss re-purposed a Tesla coil from 1931 film Frankenstein for the Destroyer tour.

28. Ace Frehley scored highest in a group IQ test in the 70s. His score was 164 – ‘genius’ level.

29. The band who opened more Kiss shows than any other in the 1970s? Rush.

30. Kiss’ first comic book appearance: Howard The Duck, in May 1977

31. Eddie and Alex Van Halen played on demos of Got Love For Sale and Christine Sixteen.

32. Victor Willis – aka The Cop from the Village People ­– sang backing vocals on 1977’s Tomorrow And Tonight.

33. Elvis Presley’s death nixed plans to cover Jailhouse Rock on Alive II.

34. Peter Criss was overdubbed in notoriously hokey movie Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park by actor Michael Bell.

35. After Ace Frehley stormed off the Phantom Of The Park set, he was replaced by a black stunt double.

36. Future Married With Children star Katie Segal sang on Gene’s 1978 solo album.

37. Gene tried to get John Lennon and Paul McCartney to sing backing vocals on his solo album…

38. …He ended up using singers from the musical Beatlemania instead.

39. Rick James holds Gene’s Kramer ‘Axe’ bass on the cover of 1982’s Throwin’ Down.

40. Paul Stanley’s solo acting debut was in 1982’s Young Doctors In Love. He was edited out.

41. Richie Sambora and Angel’s Punky Meadows both tried out for Ace Frehley’s job. 

42. Ace’s eventual replacement Vinnie Vincent was a staff songwriter on Happy Days.

43. Paul Stanley was in the running to produce Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction.

44. Kiss came close to launching their own WCW wrestling team in 1999. It fell apart when the wrestler playing The Demon quit without competing in a single match.

45. Peter Criss’s replacement Eric Carr played bass on two songs: Little Caesar and I Still Love You.

46. In 2001, Paul Stanley lent his voice to a commercial for Folgers Coffee.

47. Costumes worn by the band in their 70s heyday sold for $200.132 at London auction house Bonhams.

48. Aerosmith’s Joe Perry is the only muso to jam live with Kiss at one of their gigs (on Strutter in 2004).

49. Michael Jackson’s mother announced that Kiss were appearing at a tribute concert to the late pop star in Cardiff.. A day later, they were uninvited after fans poihted out that Gene had accused Jackson of child molestation.

50. Kiss have appeared on Scooby Doo – twice. First in the 2002 Halloween episode What’s New Scooby Doo, and again in the 2015 movie-length episode Scooby-Doo! And Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery.

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