Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The current line-up since march 2004. From left to right: Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer.

KISS is an American rock band, formed in the mid 1970s in New York City. It is well known for the face paint and complex costumes worn by the bandmembers, and its theatrical concerts, which involve, among other things, fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, and lots of pyrotechnics. The most well-known members are his frontman Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar; his stage persona is "Starchild", due to being a "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic", a little ironic as he's now Happily Married) and of course Gene Simmons (bass; the "Demon", cynical and fan of dark elements, and also known for his enormous tongue). The two other founding members are the guitarist Ace Frehley (the "Spaceman", a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet) and drummer Peter Criss (the "Catman", in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn.), whose make-ups are still worn by their current replacements, Eric Singer ("Catman") and Tommy Thayer ("Spaceman").

The band also made a full-length horror film, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978). They don't like to talk about it.

Not to be confused with kissing, the book |Kiss, or the KISS principle.


Studio albums:

The first makeup period with the original line-up

  • 1974 – KISS
  • 1974 – Hotter Than Hell
  • 1975 – Dressed to Kill
  • 1976 – Destroyer
  • 1976 – Rock and Roll Over
  • 1977 – Love Gun
  • 1978 – Four self-titled solo albums

Late makeup years and decline

  • 1979 – Dynasty
  • 1980 – Unmasked
  • 1981 – Music from "The Elder"
  • 1982 – Creatures of the Night

No make-up period

  • 1983 – Lick It Up
  • 1984 – Animalize
  • 1985 – Asylum
  • 1987 – Crazy Nights
  • 1989 – Hot in the Shade
  • 1992 – Revenge
  • 1997 – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions

Reunion – Post-Reunion

  • 1998 – Psycho Circus
  • 2009 – Sonic Boom
  • 2012 – Monster (upcoming)

Live albums:

  • 1975 – Alive !
  • 1977 – Alive II
  • 1993 – Alive III
  • 1996 – MTV Unplugged: KISS
  • 1996 – You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best !!
  • 2003 – Kiss Symphony: Alive IV
  • 2004 – Kiss Instant Live
  • 2006 – Alive! The Millennium Concert (Inside the box set Kiss Alive! 1975–2000)
  • 2008-2009 – KISS Alive 35
  • 2010 – Kiss Sonic Boom Over Europe

KISS provides examples of the following tropes:
  • All Drummers Are Animals: In a more literal sense, with the Catman (Criss, then Singer) and the Fox (Carr).
    • Criss is a subvertion, though, as he's pretty jazzy; after all, he's the man behind "Beth"...
  • The Alcoholic: Ace is known for this. Just (re)watch the infamous Tom Snyder interview.
    • During the Hotter Than Hell photo session, everyone but Gene get drunk. Heck, Paul was drunk enough that he got locked inside his own car !
  • An Axe to Grind: Gene's bass got this shape.
  • Audience Participation Song
  • Based on a Great Big Lie:
    • Apparently their breakthrough album ALIVE! had guitar overdubs, sound-check songs with the audience added in the studio, and other less-than-live shenanigans (over and above the normal studio mixing and whatnot).
    • Dynasty credits Peter Criss with drums and vocals. In reality, he only played drums on his song, "Dirty Livin'", the rest of the songs being recorded by studio drummer Anton Fig.
    • Unmasked credits Criss, once again, with drums, percussion, and vocals, while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "Shandi" video. In reality, he wasn't involved at all with the recording of the album, with Fig (for a second, uncredited time) taking his place on the recording, while Eric Carr replaced Criss on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
    • Similary, Creatures of the Night credits Ace Frehley with lead guitars while also featuring him on the album's cover and appearing on the album's single "Love It Loud" video. In reality, he's completly absent, Bob Kulick, Steve Ferris and Vinnie Vincent played lead guitars on the recording, the latter taking his place on the album's tour and eventually as a band member.
    • Psycho Circus was widely announced as the first studio album in over a decade by the band's original lineup. In reality, only one of the album's songs, "Into the Void", was recorded with all 4 band members, this song being also the only one where Criss actually played drums. Ace Frehley only played lead guitars on three songs and vocals on three other songs. The rest of the songs were recorded with studio musicians Kevin Valentine (drums) and Tommy Thayer (lead guitar; he later pick up the "Spaceman" makeup).
  • Black Sheep Hit: In the 70's, the radios played Power Ballad "Beth" instead of the A-side "Detroit Rock City" (which didn't stop the latter from becoming one of their anthems)
  • Camp Straight: Do not be fooled by Paul Stanley's campy poses and outfits. He's actually pretty much a ladies' man(not to mention that calling him gay is NOT a good thing).
  • Carpet of Virility: Paul Stanley, and HOW. Simmons, Criss and Thayer have this too, but Stanley tops them.
  • Cash Cow Franchise: One of the most Egregious examples in any medium. They have all kinds of licensed merchandise, including action figures, comic books, condoms, and, last but not least, the infamous Kiss Kaskets (in one of which Dimebag Darrell was buried).
  • Chorus-Only Song: Hard to find someone who knows the verses for "Rock and Roll All Nite".
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Since the solo albums: Gene, Ace, Peter, Paul.
  • Concept Album: Music from "The Elder", a big and ambitious project that even involved a big-budget movie and a world-wide tour for a while, but...
  • Costume Porn/Impossibly Cool Clothes/Unlimited Wardrobe: And HOW !!! The band is infamous for this.
  • Darker and Edgier: Creatures of the Night is pretty much their heaviest album at this time, especially compared with the pop-oriented Dynasty and Unmasked. This isn't a bad thing, though, as this album (and the two following) are well received.
    • Don't forget Revenge, which includes not just heavier sound, but also God Gave Rock 'N' Roll to You II, a Power Ballad that doubles as a tribute for Eric Carr. *sob*
    • The upcoming album, Monster would be heavier as well.
  • Dress Rehearsal Video: "I Love It Loud".
  • Echoing Acoustics: "Detroit Rock City." Khazad-Dum, meet Motown.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Again, "I Love It Loud". Then it fades out again...
  • Fan Service: Stanley's costumes are designed around this trope, showcasing his Carpet of Virility. Simmons' and Criss' also, to lesser extents. Frehley is rather modest in comparaison.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Mark St. John (who died in 2007) is starting to become this.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Subverted HARD. KISS is often spelled in all-caps, and has been rumored to be an acronym, with meanings such as "Knights In Satan's Service" or "Kids In your Sister's Skirt", but has been shown to be false.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The cover of Hotter Than Hell had these.
    • Bilingual Bonus: The Japanese in the top-right corner (地獄のさけび, or Jigoku no Sakebi) translates as "Hell's shout" or "The shout of hell".
    • "Blind Idiot" Translation/GoodBadTranslation: On the other hand, the members' names are a little... Off. In particular, Frehley's name being rendered as エイス フューリ (Ace Fury) instead of エースフレーリー.
    • Also, the live bootleg they released alongside Sonic Boom is titled Jigoku Retsuden (Hellish Transmission).
  • Great Balls of Fire: Spectacle is their motto.
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock and Roll All Nite", "Detroit Rock City", "Let Me Go, Rock n' Roll", "Rock and Roll Hell"...
  • Heavy Mithril: Surprisingly not much of it, but "God of Thunder" is a good example.
  • Iconic Item: Ace Frehley isn't Ace Frehley without his Gibson Les Paul. And then there's Gene Simmons' Axe...
    • Sort of. How do you know when Vinnie Vincent is playing the lead guitars? Easy! It's when the guitar solo is COMPLETELY MINDBLOWING INSANE.
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Calling them sellouts.
    • Back when the Knights in Satan's Service rumor was all the rage, seeing religious fanatics and the like shouting and screaming quotes from the Old Testament at the group wasn't unheard of. Neither was seeing Gene Simmons (a theology major) quoting them back.
  • Intercourse with You: Many songs, mostly those sung by Simmons. In fact, most of their songs are this, from "Christeen Sixteen" (which is a song about a guy lusting after a sixteen year old) to "Hotter Than Hell" (which is about a guy lusting after a married woman) to "Heaven's On Fire" (which is about a guy having sex, and may or may not have inspired a large amount of the sex dialog seen in all kinds of fandoms' fanfic sex scenes).
  • Kavorka Man: Gene Simmons is anything but handsome and is known for being a raging egomaniac and asshole, but he claims to have bedded over a thousand women.
  • Kneel Before Zod: In "God of Thunder"

I am the lord of the wastelands
A modern-day man of steel[1].
I gather darkness to please me
And I command you to kneel before the...
God of Thunder, and rock n' roll!

  • If You Know What I Mean: Paul Stanley's stage banter until the reunion was mostly innuendo. He's toned it down somewhat since longtime fans began bringing their kids, but it's still there.
  • Large Ham: Paul and Gene, for the most part.... and most of that most part is Gene.
  • Last-Note Nightmare: The album version of "Detroit Rock City" ends with a car skidding, crashing and exploding. Then the record segues into "King of the Night Time World".
  • Lead Bassist: Gene is type B and C.
  • The Leader: Paul since the mid 80s, after Gene attemps to launch a movie career.
  • Legacy Character: The current guitarist and drummer wearing the founding members' makeup. It divides fans on whether it's fair.
  • Long Runner Lineup: The original formation played for 13 non-consecutive years: first from 1972-80, then a reunion from 1996 to 2001 (although as Blatant Lies shows, the reunion was more live than on studio).
  • Love It or Hate It: Actively invoked and encouraged (!) by the band.

Paul Stanley: "If you want to hate us, God bless you! If you love us, that's great too. If you're in the middle... get out!"

  • Made of Iron:
    • Arguably Frehley, as he was electrified during an early concert but recovered well enough to finish the show. Since then, the band use wireless guitars (one of the first bands to do so !), and Ace wrote a song about this accident, "Shock Me", which became his vocal debut. Which is fitting, considering that iron conduct electricity...
    • When KISS was starting and some of their (now famous) concert's antics hadn't been perfected yet, there was one occasion were Simmons accidentally swallowed the (highly toxic) kerosene of his fire breathing stunt. Gene ignored the excruciating abdominal pain and finished the show instead of stopping the concert there and rushing to the hospital. Gene's also set his hair on fire at least once doing his firebreathing stunt.
  • The Merch: KISS is infamous for plastering their name and faces on anything they can get their hands on. They are probably the only rock band with their own line of caskets.
  • Money, Dear Boy: Possibly the Trope Codifier for musical artists.
    • If you accuse Gene Simmons of being a sellout, he'll just laugh and agree with you wholeheartedly. He has stated several times over the years that the reason he became a rock musician was because he wanted to get rich and get girls.
  • Monster Clown: The cover of Psycho Circus.
  • New Sound Album: Dynasty added Disco; Music from "The Elder" was an attempt at a progressive-rock Concept Album (described by Simmons later as sounding like a bad Genesis record); Asylum was pure Glam Rock all the way and had the band wearing androgynous make-up and outfits; Revenge was more hard rock and featured darker lyrics than their mid-eighties Hair Metal / Glam Rock output; and Carnival of Souls was a Grunge-inspired, very heavy, metal album. With the exception of Asylum due to Broken Fanbase, and Revenge, which was fairly well received as a return to the Creatures of the Night era, these albums are not particularly popular with the fans.
  • No Swastikas: Due to German law, the band's usual logo (the band name with the two S characters depicted as lightning bolts) cannot be used in Germany (because the double-S resembles the Schutzstaffel logo). While the band has been accused of being Nazis, it seems unlikely that Simmons or Stanley (both being Jewish descendants of concentration camp survivors) intended the logo that way. Hence, the alternative logo with two backwards Z.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Mark St. John, KISS' third lead guitarist. Only played on one album (Animalize), got reactive arthritis, and was replaced almost instantly with Bruce Kulick. Accounts vary on how many shows of the album's tour he played in, but most agree that St. John played very few, if any, and that Kulick ended up filling up for him in most of them.
  • Only One Female Mold: In the cover of Love Gun, as seen here. 'They' are based of the wife of Ken Kelly (the painter of this cover, as well as Destroyer's), who served as a model for all the poses.
  • Overly Long Tongue: Gene Simmons, infamously.
  • Performance Video: Most of their videos.
  • Power Ballad: Generally writen by Stanley or Criss. "Beth", "Shandi", "Forever" (which had even input from Michael Bolton in the songwriting), "God Gave Rock and Roll to You"...
  • Rated "M" for Manly: ...Besides the informed ballads.
  • Reality Show: Gene Simmons Family Jewels.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Paul got purple as his main color (look at his jacket in Dynasty !). His Camp Straight behaviour, and the fact he wrote several pop oriented songs ("I Was Made For Lovin' You"...) doesn't help.
  • Revolving Door Band: And "revolving" is specially true as the members other than Gene and Paul come and go and back.
  • Robot or Spaceman Alter Ego: Ace Frehley originated the Spaceman. Later, Tommy Thayer took this identity.
  • Rockers Smash Guitars: Paul at the end of "Black Diamond".
  • Rock Trio: Paul suffered an irregular heartbeat shortly before a show in 2007. Rather than cancel, they performed as a trio for the only time in the band's existence.
    • Second time, actually: it happened at January 1982 when the band played "I" without Ace.
  • Scary Musician, Harmless Music: They stomp around on stage in crazy costumes, their bass-player breathes fire, spits blood, and looks like a demon, the lead guitarist is fond of putting fireworks in his guitar... And some of their biggest hits are "Rock and Roll All Nite", "Beth" and "I Was Made For Lovin' You", which sounds like it belongs on an "easy-listening" station.
    • This trope arguably makes those songs of theirs that are in a dark-metal vein ("Love Gun" and "Detroit Rock City" being the two most famous examples) sound all the more powerful by comparison.
  • Scatting: DO do do do DO do do do do DO do do do DO DO do...
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: Somewhat subverted by Gene Simmons; he claims that he has never been drunk or done drugs. On the other hand, he is one of rock and roll's most notorious womanizers and has reportedly had sex with thousands of women.
  • Shout-Out: They get one of the best-known in rock when Cheap Trick mentions them in Surrender. During live shows, Cheap Trick would toss KISS albums to their audiences.
  • Spin-Off: All KISS members, both former and current released albums and formed bands at one point or another with varying degrees of success. Simmons' A**hole, Stanley's Live to Win, Ace Frehley's Frehleys' Comet, Peter Criss' Criss, Mark St. John's White Tiger, the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, the Eric Singer Project (with Bruce Kulick), Thayer's former group Black 'n Blue...
  • Stage Names: The only members to use their birth names are Tommy Thayer and Bruce Kulick (for starters, Simmons is Chaim Witz, and Paul Stanley is Stanley Harvey Eisen). Many members went ahead and used at least one of their birth names for their stage names, though (for example, Vinnie Vincent is Vincent Cusano, and Mark St. John is Mark Norton).
  • Strictly Formula: Why Sonic Boom ended up working out well.
  • Surreal Music Video: The clip for "Psycho Circus".
    • What's even more surreal is watching it with the 3D glasses that the VHS version came with.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Tommy Thayer wears Ace Frehley's makeup, has a similar costume, sings his old songs (notably "Shock Me") in concert, and has a similar guitar solo setpiece, complete with fireworks. Although not as pronounced (due to his being behind a drumkit) Eric Singer wears Peter Criss's original makeup and sings his vocal parts (such as the lead on "Black Diamond") as well.
  • Temporary Substitute: Before a 1997 concert, Peter Criss refused to go out on stage unless he was paid more. The band's solution? Put Criss' makeup on drum tech Ed Canon, introduce him at the beginning of the show, and rock on! Nobody in the audience asked for a refund, and Criss never missed another concert during his tenure with the group.
  • Trust Me, I'm A Doctor: Gene's slogan in commercials for Dr. Pepper Cherry soda, where he plays "Calling Dr. Love" in full KISS costume.
    • The song itself may qualify:

So as you please get on your knees
There are no bills, there are no fees
Baby, I know what your problem is
The first step of the cure is... a kiss

  • Vocal Tag Team: Usually between Paul and Gene, but the rest is given a chance. Well, except for...
  • The Voiceless: Vinnie Vincent and Mark St. John have the dubious honor of being the only two KISS ex-members to never sing lead vocals on at least one song; St. John being the only member to not even sing backing vocals.
  1. No reference to Superman intended