*Post written by James Wethington, senior library assistant at the University Archives and Special Collections.
We have one more exciting edition to Guess Who Performed in Evansville and we saved the best for last! If you haven’t read the previous entries, go and check them out! Many recognizable singers and bands have performed in Evansville throughout the years. As we have done before, we have three fun facts for you to see if you can guess who they are. The three fun facts are:
- The band’s lead singer is known for his long tongue.
- Some of their songs are “I Was Made to Lovin’ You”, “Rock and Roll All Nite”, and “Forever”.
- The band used face paint early in their career when they would perform.
Kiss formed in late 1972 when Gene Simmons answered an ad in Rolling Stone placed by Peter Criss. Kiss were known for performing with face paint on, which became their signature look. The band was originally a trio consisting of Simmons, Criss, and Paul Stanley; however, Ace Frehley joined the band in early 1973. Kiss performed their first concert on January 30, 1973 in Queens, New York. By the end of 1973, Kiss signed their first record deal with Casablanca Records and released their debut album, “KISS” in February 1974.
Kiss started to gain national-wide exposure by the mid and late 1970’s: they performed on the Mike Douglas Show (April 1974), Midnight Special (April 1975), and on the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, Detroit Rock City, and Beth and King of the Night Time World (October 1976). Kiss headlined Madison Square Garden and then voted as the #1 band in America in 1977 and in 1979, their song, “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” became a top ten hit on the charts.
Kiss experiences numerous changes in the early 1980’s: Peter Criss left the band and Eric Carr replaced him in 1980 and Ace Frehley left and replaced by Vinnie Vincent in 1982. Kiss shocked the world on September 18, 1983 on MTV’s “Lick It Up”, Kiss performed for the first time without their signature face paint. Until 1989, Kiss didn’t hit the charts until they released the album, “Hot in the Shade”, with top ten ballad, “Forever”. As Kiss entered the 1990’s, they experienced numerous highs and lows.
One of the biggest lows for Kiss was the death of Eric Carr in 1991. Carr passed away after battling cancer and the band dedicated their album, “KISS Revenge”, to Carr in 1992. By 1995, Kiss hosted their first worldwide Kiss Convention in Australia, released a coffee table book, Kisstory, and Kiss reunited with Peter Criss for a Kiss Convention in Los Angeles to perform. In 1996, Kiss shocked the world when all original four band members made a surprise appearance at the Grammy’s in their signature fact paint for the first time since 1983. By 1999, Kiss was back together, front and center, when they performed at Super Bowl XXXIII and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. By 2000, Kiss announced they were holding a farewell tour; however, Kiss was far from over.
Peter Criss left Kiss again and replaced with Eric Singer in 2001. The following year, Kiss performed the closing ceremonies at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. In 2009, Kiss released their first album in 11 years and performed live on season finale of American Idol. By 2014, Kiss received their highest honor when all four original members were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
Kiss performed their concert at Roberts Stadium on January 23, 1978. There were over 13,600 people in attendance to see Kiss; however, there was an accident that happened, injuring two. The concert had a spotlight tower near the edge of the stage, which crashed into the stage. It caused a 25-minute delay; but the show went on! The reporter at the concert thought the concert was horrible because of the words were incomprehensible (Hill, 1978). One concertgoer wrote to the Evansville Press newspaper. It was a great concert and not boring as the reporter stated (Letter to the Editor). Everyone has their own opinions and they will vary. One reporter said after the concert, the traffic was a nightmare and “… could easily be the worst traffic jam in stadium history” (Kunkel, 1978).
For more information, the Greg Smith collection at the University Archives and Special Collections at the David L. Rice Library at the University of Southern Indiana has over 1,500 photographs of Evansville history available online. Take a moment to explore his photographs of athletic events, local businesses, and many more.
Callis, N. (1978, January 31). Critical of the critic [Letter to the editor]. The Evansville Press. https://bit.ly/2VbPt8U
Hiatt, B. (2014, April 2). 18 things you learn hanging out with Kiss. Retrieved April 20, 2020, from https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/18-things-you-learn-hanging-out-with-kiss-235348/
Hill, D. (1978, January 24). Kiss gives huge crowd little more than noise. The Evansville Press. https://bit.ly/2KlfNHu
Kiss chronology. (n.d.). Kiss world. Retrieved on April 20, 2020, from https://www.kissonline.com/history
Kunkel, T. (1978, January 29). Kiss: Rock extravaganza more than meets the eye. Sunday Courier and Press. https://bit.ly/2KmzfDr
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.(n.d.). Kiss. Retrieved on April 20, 2020, from https://www.rockhall.com/inductees/kiss