30, 1973 -
June 4, 1976
||make-up early costumes huge logo Gene spitting fire Gene spitting blood Ace's
smoking guitar Paul smashing guitar smoke bombs drum riser confetti storm candles spider web
| I have decided to put the 1974 and 1975 shows
under the same roof, simply because the shows were almost identical.
After the bands first official gig, on New Years Eve 1973, the show started to come
together. The staging was really simple, just a bunch of amps on both sides of Peter's
drum riser. In the very early days, the amplifiers weren't all real.The band couldn't
afford them, but had a bunch of fake ones made at Paul's fathers furniture factory.
In the early months of 1974 they had a spider web, which you can see behind Peter
on picture 1. The web was supposedly made from chains.
In Janaury 1974 the logo
was introduced (seen over Peter in picture 2). This logo would light up (and blind
audiences), during the show. It was made from 164 light bulbs, that would vary in
intensity throughout the show.
Another stage prop was the 7
candle candelabra on Gene's side of the stage (marked with an a, in picture 3).
3. C'mon And Love Me
4. Hotter Than Hell
8. Nothin' To Lose
9. 100.000 Years
10. Black Diamond
11. Cold Gin
12. Rock And Roll All Nite
13. Let Me Go, Rock 'n Roll
Got to Choose,
Let Me Know,
Ladies in Waiting,
Acrobat (the original longer version of Love Theme From KISS),
the European tour in 1976, they also performed 3 songs from Destroyer: Flaming Youth,
Shout It Out Loud,
Detroit Rock City
| The 1975 stage show (picture 3) was, as I said
earlier, just about the same as the 1974 show. It had the logo hanging over Peter, and it
had the candelabra, and the amps (all real this time!).
The show itself started with the band kicking into "Deuce", while bombs
and flash pots went off. The logo would rise up behind Peter and begin to flash.
During the early part of 1975, the band added the intro: "You wanted the best,
and you've got it... the hottest band in the land: KISS!!!"
| The next effect would be in "Firehouse",
when Gene would perform his famous fire breathing stunt (picture 4a). For the fire
breathing, sirens would sound in the hall and red flashlights would start up (one is
marked b, on picture 3). Gene would then walk off-stage, to fill his mouth with kerosine,
and get a lit touch from a roadie. Then he would walk back out, and breath his
trick had it's debut at the NYE show at the Academy of Music in New York, but almost
ended in disaster. The fireball emerging from Gene's mouth was way too big, and Gene's
hair caught fire. It was then up to Sean Delaney to put Gene (and the fire) out.
As seen on picture 4b, the incident has repeated itself a few times later on,
including at one show at Cobo Hall in Detroit in January 1976, that was filmed. The
videotape is available as a bootleg video... check it out!
When introducing Firehouse Paul put on a Firehouse helmet and kept it on
until the end of the first verse of the song. Then he usually threw it into the audience.
At that time he wore a normal black (see picture 5A), real Firehouse helmet.
When the band got to doing longer sets, they started introducing solo's. Ace got a solo in
She, and for that he introduced a new effect during the bands tour in Canada in February
1974: The smoking guitar!
Ace explained the effect in the May 1997 issue of Guitar World: "On
the first Kiss tour, I got really loaded and put a smoke bomb in the volume control box of
my tobacco sunburst Standard. I had the fuse hanging out from the back plate, and I lit it
right before my guitar solo. The smoke oozed out from both pickups, and the people went
nuts. I thought it looked great, too, but it completely destroyed all my volume and tone
The guitar was literally "burned out" after a few shows, so Ace had to
come up with a different idea. He got the help from a designer who modified the instrument
so that it would belch smoke
without suffering any ill effects. Ace also explained that in the same issue of Guitar
World: "There's an asbestos-covered metal box under the rhythm pickup, a battery pack
that jettisons the smoke bomb and a halogen lamp to make the guitar look like its on
fire - though it does catch fire half the time. I never use my rhythm pickup anyway, so I
converted its volume and tone knobs to trigger the smoke and light. Theres also a
trap door in the pickup that drops out so you can see the light."
But that was not the only effect that Ace put into his solo... for the end of the
solo, he would shoot confetti and serpentines from the guitar. A small pack was placed on
the backside of the headstock, and could be fired electronically, by just touching a
Gene's solo would come
just before 100.000 Years. For this part, he would vomit blood, while flicking his tongue,
and turning out the white in his eyes (see picture 6). I guess this part was inspired by
the film "The Exorcist", where Linda Blair does something similar (even though,
she vomits pea soup, not "blood"). Of course the blood was not real.
In picture 7, you see the flamethrowers in action. This would usually happen
during the sing-a-long part of 100.000 Years. These were also introduced during the spring
of 1974, when KISS took to the road for thefirst time.
The fuel in the flamethrowers is gas, and if you
have seen these in action, you will know that you can feel the heat from them almost
everywhere in the arena, when they are turned on. So the heat must be incredible on stage.
The finale of the show would
be Black Diamond. At the end of the song Peter's drum riser would start to rise, while
bombs and flash pots would go off all over the stage (picture 8).
In the early days the drum riser worked on a chain drive, which had the unfortunate
habit of skipping every now and then, suddenly dropping Peter a few feet... not a thing
you want to experience with a case of the stomach flu. All later versions of the drum
riser were hydraulic.
If you compare the drum riser in picture 2, and the one in picture 7, you can tell
the difference of the one used in 1974, and the one from the Dressed To Kill/Alive! tour.
The 1974 version had frills on the front, while the 1975 one was covered with mylar (a
reflective, silvery material).
If you look carefully at picture 8, you can
see two mirror balls hanging over the band. During the intro for Black Diamond, the
spotlights would be directed at the balls, who reflected the light as hundreds of tiny light beams across the hall or arena
where the band played!!
The only effect in the
1975 show, that had not already been there in 1974, was the confetti "storm", in
the final half of Let Me go, Rock And Roll. For that part several large fans placed behind
the amplifiers would blow tons of confetti into the air, covering the stage and half the
audience in small pieces of paper. Quite a mess for those cleaning up afterwards, but a
Something new were also Paul breaking
a guitar Pete Townsend/Jimi Hendrix style.
In 1975 the guitar was an autographed Gibson Midnight Special, that Paul was given for
free by the Gibson company (see picture 9). That deal quickly fell through, so over the
years Paul has broken many different kinds of guitars.
Simmons (bass, vocals)
Paul Stanley (rhythm guitar, vocals)
Ace Frehley (lead guitar, vocals)
Peter Criss (drums, vocals)
To view the exact
tourdates of the KISS, Hotter than hell and Dressed to kill tours, go to the Tourdates page.
Many thanks to Jan Laursen for
letting us use these pages.
Here is the link to his website: