Monday, March 14, 2011
KISS IN 2012 - THE ARGUMENT
There are a lot of artists who still deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I can't think of any, who aren't in yet, who are more influential than KISS.
Here's what doesn't matter: how commercial they were. Gene Simmons' mercenary attitude towards marketing. The fact that the spectacle was sometimes of equal importance, and sometimes more important, than the music. Gene Simmons' mercenary attitude towards women. Their '80s dive into hair metal, effectively copying the bands who blatantly copied them. Gene Simmons' opinions on prostitution, marriage or politics.
Here's what shouldn't matter (but does): Jann Wenner has allegedly said that they'll get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over his dead body.
And here's what does matter: other than The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, KISS probably inspired more kids to buy guitars, basses and drum kits than another band before or since. And just influenced artists to take rock and roll and make it bigger. Yes, KISS influenced pretty much every hard rock band that followed, and a hell of a lot of metal bands too. But they also influenced George Clinton's Parliament. Clinton got the idea of huge stage shows with giant props from KISS (and, strangely, didn't get the flak that KISS got for it, since critics love the funk). Garth Brooks also took cues from KISS, and made his concerts bigger than anything that had been done in country. And even Kurt Cobain reluctantly admitted to being a KISS fan as a kid. Who knows, maybe if he had a bit more of their influence, he would have enjoyed the position he was in when Nirvana skyrocketed to becoming the most popular band in the world. The Replacements paid their respect with their cover of "Black Diamond" from Let It Be.
A lot of people were inspired by KISS early on and then moved on. But KISS was still the influence, the early spark. This is true of a lot of bands from the '90s. The Pearl Jam guys are big fans (I saw Ace Frehley join them onstage for "Black Diamond" back in 2008). Trent Reznor has bitched about KISS often, but supposedly, he used to keep a Gene Simmons action figure on the console in the studio when Nine Inch Nails was recording. Weezer namechecked Ace and Peter Criss in "In The Garage." The Mighty Mighty Bosstones did a killer cover of "Detroit Rock City."
By the way, the spectacle was most likely the gateway that led kids to get into KISS. But the music, especially on those early albums (nearly everything from their 1974 self-titled debut through 1977's Alive II), was killer. Their debut, especially, should be considered a garage rock classic.
Inducting Alice Cooper (who was certainly a big influence on KISS) this year was great for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's credibility in my opinion: Alice was a people's band more than critical darlings. Hopefully next year, or soon, they will follow suit by inducting "The Hottest Band In The World." Maybe we'd even get one last Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss performance.