Kiss frontman Paul Stanley has claimed that Kiss fans are the best fans in the world, and that other bands know it. Stanley made the remarks during a Q&A with broadcaster Matt Stocks aboard the annual Kiss Kruise, which took place in October. The full conversation, recorded in front of an audience of Kruise passengers, has just been released as a podcast.
"When other bands say their fans are the best in the world, they only say that because they know they're not," Stanley tells the audience. "These are the best fans, and always have been. That's why it's called the Kiss Army, because it started as a volunteer army."
Stanley then goes on to tell the story of the Kiss Army's foundation, saying, "It didn't start with us, it started with a bunch of guys in Terre Haute, Indiana, who wanted to have Kiss music played on a radio station that wouldn't play it. And they went down to the station and said, 'if you're not going to play Kiss music by five o'clock today, we're going to surround the building', and the radio station thought it was bullshit.
"Well, the station was surrounded by thousands, and they started playing Kiss music. That was the start of the Kiss Army, and the best armies are volunteer armies, and you are the proof, and we love you, and we wouldn't be here without you, so God bless all of you."
Stanley's hyperbolic retelling of the story does seem to be exaggerated somewhat, as one might expect from the official Hottest Band In The World™. In 2021, the fans at the centre of the story, Terre Haute locals Bill Starkey and Jay Evans, told MyBashValley what really happened.
“We just started to call the radio station [WVTS] and asked them to play Kiss songs, and this went on for several months,” Starkey said. “Sometimes they would do stuff to torment us. They would play Kiss late at night when nobody would be listening, or they would play Kiss and not say it was Kiss, so Jay and I would call them and give them a lot of crap."
Later, when Kiss announced a show at the Hulman Center in Terre Haute in November 1975, WVTS programme director Rich Dickerson started a 'Letter of the Day' segment to promote the show.
Starkey remembered: “He said ‘listen, you know those stupid letters you guys have been writing, two weeks before the show, why don’t you write me one every day and we’ll read them over the air during the 5 o’clock rush hour."
The show was a sell-out, and Kiss agreed to meet the fans backstage to say thank you. By the time the gig arrived, the Kiss Army had doubled in size.
“There were four of us dressed up,” said Scott Roman, one of the recruits.
In 2010, the City of Terre Haute named November 20 as Kiss Day in the city in honour of the 35th anniversary of the concert.
You can hear the full podcast below. Other subjects covered include the future of the Kiss Kruises, the importance of Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer's roles in the band, and what's in store on the remainder of the End Of The Road Tour.
Last month, Kiss announced their final UK shows, as part of an extensive European tour. Full dates below.
Kiss European Tour 2023
Jun 03: Plymouth Home Park, UK
Jun 05: Birmingham Arena, UK
Jun 06: Newcastle Utilita Arena, UK
Jun 10: Prague O2 Arena, Czech Republic
Jun 12: Amsterdam Ziggo Dome, Netherlands
Jun 13: Brussels Palais 12 Arena, Belgium
Jun 17: Munich Königsplatz Germany
Jun 19: Krakow Tauron Arena Poland
Jun 21: Dresden Messehalle, Germany
Jun 22: Berlin Max-Schmeling-Halle, Germany
Jun 27: Lyon Halle Tony Garnier, France
Jun 29: Tuscany Piazza Napoleone, Italy
Jul 01: Mannheim SAP Arena, Germany
Jul 02: Cologne Lanxess Arena, Germany
Jul 05: London The O2, UK
Jul 07: Manchester AO Arena, UK
Jul 08: Glasgow OVO Hydro, UK
Jul 12: Rättvik Dalhalla Sweden
Jul 13: Rättvik Dalhalla Sweden
Jul 15: Tonsberg Kaldnes, Norway