KISS frontman’s book signing worth the wait

Rock ‘n’ roll stories are great to read, but it’s great hearing them too.

On  Friday, I joined hundreds of Nashville area music lovers in an unseasonably cold wind outside the Vanderbilt Barnes & Noble for a book signing event. As the author of the book was none other than rock ‘n’ roll icon Paul Stanley, the 90-minute wait was worth it. Not only did I get an autographed copy of the book, I got to share a fist bump with him and got a picture taken with him.

The frontman for KISS, Stanley’s recently released autobiography Face the Music debuted at No. 2 on the New York Times nonfiction bestsellers list.

The crowd waiting for the event were clearly KISS fans, with many coming dressed up in KISS T-shirts and jackets. As there wasn’t much to do for 90 minutes, it was the perfect opportunity to share KISS stories.

A gray-haired lady  in front of me had a pair of KISS guitar picks dangling from her ears. She explained that she got the picks, one each from Stanley and KISS bassist Gene Simmons, at a live show after they were tossed into the crowd. She said her friends like to say she plowed over a security guard to get them. She said KISS was her son’s favorite band before he died and because of that she has a connection with the group.

Nearby, a teenager wearing a KISS shirt mentioned that she had never seen the group perform in concert before and was looking forward to this summer’s tour with Def Leppard.

A young boy wore his own Starchild costume, drawing applause from others in line.

One person in the crowd talked about how he’d already been to one of Stanley’s book signings in another city, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see the singer again and get another autograph.

Another fan was excited to get a copy of the book, but sadly admitted his concert-going days were over as he was just too old. Another lamented that the prices for KISS tickets these days was just too excessive to keep going year after year.

I caught my first KISS show in 1981 and have only missed one of their visits to Nashville since then (because of an ice storm on the night of the concert.) I also attended the KISS Convention in Nashville prior to their reunion tour with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss in the 1990s, caught them live in Las Vegas as part of a WCW Monday Nitro episode in which they were the guests, and traveled to Knoxville to see them perform. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen them.

I was ecstatic when the fans voted KISS into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame this past spring, even though KISS isn’t keen on the Hall itself. To me it was validation (not that it was really needed) that this is one hell of a rock band that has given me countless hours of joy and excitement over the majority of my life. No other group has ever excited me more and I doubt ever will.

Stanley’s book signing was just the latest chapter in my own KISS life. I can’t wait til this summer’s KISS/Def Leppard show for another chapter.

As a former journalist and a writer, I’m always interested in stories. The KISS crowd was a cool way to hear some stories being shared from a wide array of people, from young to old. Who knows, some of the personalities and stories could make for great fodder someday in my own autobiography after my writing career takes off.



That band’s f-ing AWESOME!

What if you had never seen or heard Kiss before? What if you had never heard a note of their music, never viewed a YouTube clip, never seen a reality show featuring any of the members? And what if you wandered into a divey club in your hometown and saw Kiss in all their glory thrashing the place to the ground? One guy belching fire and spraying blood past his gargantuan tongue. A drum riser bursting through the roof. A guitar player so incredible his axe billowed smoke and shot rockets. A frontman flying back and forth across the joint like a superhero Tarzan. All of them in frightening horror movie/comic book superstar, sexifying kabuki make up. All of them in black and silver warrior bondage gear and 7 inch platform heels. The place blowing up with explosions, screeching with sirens, raining confetti, all to the pounding soundtrack of bareknuckle badass heavy duty liberating rock and roll. What would you say if you saw THAT? You’d say, “That band’s fucking AWESOME and deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame!!” That’s what you’d say.

—  Tom Morello, Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction speech for KISS

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A note from G. Robert Frazier: I know this is a blog about writing, but as a die-hard KISS fan I just had to share the above.  Plus, it’s a great piece of writing turned into a fantastic speech!