Kiss – The Collector’s Band
The word band is simply not enough to describe the phenomenon known as Kiss. Their pounding rhythms, soaring guitars, over the top persona and spectacular stage show have built the group a legion of dedicated fans. However, the world has seen and heard a number of successful bands, what sets Kiss apart to a collector is the extensive catalog of memorabilia they have produced over the years. Formed in 1973 New York City, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss adopted comic book like personas to separate their band from the rest of the landscape. Their initial albums sold slowly, but the band crafted a following with their outrageous make-up and larger than life, elaborate stage shows. The band was able to capture the excitement of their live shows on the live recording album Alive! The success came pouring in, and 35 years later Kiss have sold over 80 million albums and garnered 34 gold albums. I myself have never been a fan of the group, my experience with the group is like most, I know their biggest hit “Rock and Roll All Nite” and few of their other songs. Yet I have always marveled at the magnitude of their merchandise, there is practically a Kiss anything. From simple action figures to slippers, board games, coffee, there is even a Kiss casket! To gain further insight I recently spoke with two members of the Kiss Army to find out more about these dedicated collectors and what they love about Kiss. I talked to 47 year old Robert, who grew up with the band. He said the band “sang to him” as a teenager. Their rebellious nature was a mirror image of his own teenage angst, he wanted to emulate his idols so much that he created his own platform boots like Gene wore. Robert told me he had a number of prized personal collectibles such as ticket stubs dating back to the early 80s, his full collection of all original Kiss albums, and never published photographs from a New Orleans press conference in the mid 80s. He also showed me his drumhead from the 1996 Psycho Circus tour and a limited edition signature series Paul Stanley guitar. It was released for only one weekend at a Target, he waited in line for hours, purchased it for two hundred dollars, and that guitar can now be found going for 4 times the price. I also spoke with 36 year old Tammie, whose older brothers infected her with the Kiss bug at the age of six, and the next year she was dressed as Ace Frehley for Halloween. She loved Kiss because they were “different than everyone else” in the music industry. She loved the spectacle of the theatrical stage show. Tammie has attended a few Kiss conventions and recommends those for collectible purchases as opposed to the internet. Her personal favorite collectible is her Kiss watch with the Dynasty album cover on it, originally released in 1979. Kiss’ bravado and imagery have infatuated millions of fans worldwide, 35 years later and the band is still selling out stadiums and stamping their likeness on myriad new merchandise. Kiss collectors have a nearly unlimited arsenal of materials with which to build and enhance their collections.