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In 1973, two struggling New York musicians, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons met and formed a band called Wicked Lester. The band recorded an album, which was never officially released, and they eventually broke up. From the ashes of Wicked Lester a new, legendary rock and roll band would rise. Paul and Gene recruited drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley, and that’s how KISS was born.

In the early 70s glitter rock was becoming popular, led by such acts as David Bowie and Alice Cooper, and no city was influenced more than New York City. The New York Dolls were the biggest band in the area, and they were fast becoming national stars. KISS loved the escapism behind the glitter and glam that was being showcased, but knew they were more than just that. To accentuate their attitude, they decided to wear what they would call war paint, Kabuki style clown makeup along with ever-evolving outlandish outfits.

Rhythm guitarist Paul was the Starchild, bassist Gene was the Demon, Peter was the Cat, and Ace became the Spaceman. They were now four unique individuals with their own identities - but what about the music?

Critics hated them right from the beginning, dismissing their music in favor of their on-stage presence. Fans grew in slow but steady numbers, not caring about the critics. They banded together and called themselves the KISS Army. They were the few that listened to and actually liked KISS’ first two albums. The third album, Dressed To Kill, featured the band’s all-time fan favorite song, “Rock and Roll All Nite”, but album sales were still sluggish.

In 1975, KISS made a bold move by releasing a live album. It would be the make or break album. This would be their attempt at capturing their live act on vinyl, and the move paid off. The album is still considered to be one of their best, and one of the largest selling ever for the band. In the next few years that followed KISS would be the most popular band in the world.

As KISS became more popular their stage shows got larger, and costumes more elaborate. They’re brand of rock and roll was now appealing to a younger audience, something they had never anticipated in the beginning. Soon Ace and Peter became unhappy with the direction founding members Paul and Gene had taken the band. They wanted out, endangering the life of KISS.

In 1978 the band decided to temporary go their separate ways in order to each record a solo album. All four albums instantly went platinum, but Peter and Ace soon found their newfound independence refreshing. In 1980 Peter left the band, and was replaced by Eric Carr. In 1983 Ace left KISS, and was replaced by Vinnie Vincent. Without the original lineup Paul and Gene knew big changes were to be made. In 1983 the biggest change was to be made.

For the first time in the band’s history KISS decided to take off the war paint and just become another rock and roll band. The stage shows were scaled down considerably, costumes were non-existent, and a new crop of KISS fans were born. The band was now forced to be judged by their music only, and that was just fine with them. The only problem KISS now faced was keeping a lineup together for any length of time. Vinnie Vincent made a quick exit in 1984, being replaced by Mark St. John, who only lasted for one album. In 1985 Bruce Kulick took over at lead guitar.

In 1990, Eric Carr died after suffering with cancer for over a year. He was replaced by Eric Singer, who, along with Bruce, Gene, and Paul led KISS into its third decade. However, by the middle of the 90s long-time fans wanted one thing more than anything else – a reunion of the original lineup. After the original four members got back together again briefly for a taping of MTV’s “Unplugged” in 1995, the idea of a reunion tour didn’t seem so far-fetched.

In 1996 the fans got exactly what they wanted. KISS originals Paul, Gene, Ace, and Peter were back together for what would be a two-year tour. After seventeen years, the original lineup put together the most successful tour of the year. It went so well that the band decided to record a new album together. In 1998, KISS released Psycho Circus, almost twenty years after the original lineup released its last album. Another huge tour followed, and once again KISS reigned supreme.

In 2000 KISS announced that they were putting an end to their almost thirty year career. Before they were to bow out of the rock and roll scene for good, they had one more tour left inside. The farewell tour proved to be another winner, as millions of people came to say goodbye to their masked heroes.

By the end of 2000, after almost thirty years, millions of albums sold, and countless performances, the masked marvels of rock and roll blew their final kiss.