Alyson Wallace's KISStory
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When two or more KISS fans get together one of the first questions asked is "how long have you
been a fan?" It was such a question asked of me that prompted this article. With the reunion of the original line-up it is inevitable for us long time fans to look back to our youth and remember where we were and what we were doing when we first saw or heard KISS.
I first heard KISS in the autumn of 1975 and went to my first concert in 1976.
1976, when Labour were in power, Thatcher was just a Tory minister, the economy was on a downward trend, glam rock was on its way out and the music world was still awaiting the emergence of Punk Rock. I was 15 yrs old, the world still looked a rosy place and we still had rock music! Drugs were something rock stars took and we just read about, alcohol was the odd shared bottle of cider behind our parents backs and the sexual revolution was something that had happened elsewhere and we were eagerly awaiting it to happen to us.
It was into this idyllic teenage life that KISS erupted. I first came across KISS the day I broke my ankle! I was staying overnight with a friend, sleeping in her brothers empty room, since he was away. I had fallen into bed that night tired, and still dressed, after partying, without turning on the light. I awoke the next morning and opened jaded eyes to find myself inches from the wall, starring at this creature with a white face and black, bat like, markings!! In my half awake state I screeched out a cry of surprise, jumped up off the bed and caught up in the bedclothes, fell to the floor and broke my ankle! The picture I had reacted to was none other then Gene Simmons in full KISS make-up and costume! Later on in hospital my friends brother brought me in a present as a peace offering The KISS Alive album. This was the first time I had heard KISS and, despite the broken ankle, I was hooked.
In May 1976 KISS came to the UK and did 4 dates on tour, 2 of which were at the Hammersmith Odeon. Having cajoled my parents into getting me tickets, my friends and I found ourselves in London on a May evening eagerly awaiting the event but not sure what we were letting ourselves in for. We had heard rumors of what could happen at a live KISS show, but our experience to date had been with the likes of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Slade and other Glam rock bands, The UK had never experienced anything like KISS until now.
The atmosphere of the place was electric and the anticipation was growing exponentially with every minute then KISS exploded onto the stage. Though the full US style show couldnt be brought to the smaller UK arenas, what we witnessed that evening in May 1976 was out of this world. Try to imagine what it was like to be there. KISS music had only recently hit our shores a year or so previously and wasnt as big, yet, as in the States, UK glam rock was on the wane and concerts had been tame affairs for a while. To a 15 year old who didnt know much about KISS or the US at this point, it was one hell of an experience and a totally mind blowing introduction to the phenomena that is KISS.
We were lucky to have tickets near the front and were visually and audibly blasted with classic tracks such as Strutter, Black Diamond, Firehouse, God of Thunder, Rock n Roll all Nite and more. Not many feet in front of me were Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter in full make-up and costume, belting out their best. They were dynamic, energetic, sexy and very, very loud! They were what we had been waiting for, a fantasy come alive, an attitude, and a way of life, which this bunch of 15 year olds eagerly embraced. KISS were larger than life heroes to us that night, who gave us the means to travel another dimension for a few hours.
We had heard the music beforehand but to see these four guys up there on the stage, providing us with music and entertainment, was something that words are incapable of describing. Gene stomping around the stage sticking out that tongue and spitting blood, Paul gyrating and inviting the audience to love him, Ace playing amazing riffs on a smoking guitar and Peter hammering away behind this enormous drum kit.
I have seen KISS live a number of times since that May night in 1976, have remained a fan since my teens, listened to all their recordings, but nothing can ever match that first concert, that first exposure, that first experience of KISS LIVE!!
Then again ..Maybe something could match up If I could meet these guys in person one day - dream on, Allycat!
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