Friday, April 11, 2014

Most Embarrassing KISS Story

Hands in the air like you just don't care
It's no secret that I'm a life long KISS fan. Yes, I know that musically they're sub par, and without make-up and theatrics they have nothing going for them. Doesn't matter. I was introduced to them at just the right time in my life. I was young, impressionable, and was looking for something my parents could hate. KISS was perfect.

The very first concert I ever saw was KISS at the Spectrum in Philly on December 22, 1977. They were touring to support the Alive II album, which had been released two months earlier. My mom and step-dad took me to the concert, and my mom had a big leather hippy purse, which she emptied and filled with cans of Schlitz beer. Needless to say, the guards stopped us at the gate and made her hand over the beer. While this is not the most embarrassing KISS story referenced in the title, I was mortified. I was certain we were going to be thrown out and I'd miss my chance to see the Hottest Band In The World! I was already nervous as it was, because word on the street was that some kid at one of their shows had fireworks land on his clothes and he burned to death. I was sure I would suffer the same fate, but I still wanted to go because at least I'd get to see them before I died.

Besides, now the guards had all the beer.

They didn't kick us out and my clothes didn't catch fire. I came away with really grainy pictures from my dinky little 110 camera and a handful of the confetti that rained down on us. No other concert in my life would match that experience.

So, last night KISS was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, 25 years after they first became eligible. The HOF didn't want to do it. They never wanted to do it. But it was starting to look a bit ridiculous to have all of these rap and disco artists in and not have KISS.

I'm not here to complain about that, though. I'm here to honor their induction by telling my most embarrassing KISS related story. And trust me, I have plenty of them.

Now, I've never paid a whole lot of attention to lyrics. Sure, some of them stand out to me, and I can usually sing along with songs I know well, but that's not why I listen to music. I'm too busy analyzing the instrumentation to give them much thought. Besides, I tend to take things at surface value, which means that sometimes the simplest of metaphors is lost on me. You can see where I'm going with this, right?

In the early 90s, I went to see Ace Frehley play at a club in Atlantic City. This is a club that I had played in many times myself, and to see my childhood idol on the same stage was sure to kick ass! Trust me, it did. Ace was still in the midst of his long battle with alcoholism at this point, and he could hardly stand upright. At one point during the show, he had a roadie come out on stage and help him remove his jacket without dropping his guitar. He was a mess. But he didn't miss a note. As fucked up as he was, he could still play. And there I was, standing right at the stage, the speaker blaring into my left ear.

On side four of Alive II, KISS included 5 new songs, recorded in the studio rather than live. Ace Frehley's contribution to this set of new material was a song called Rocket Ride. I've listened to this song a million times. I can sing it in my sleep. It's the best song on that side of the album.

Baby's on her knees. Baby wants to please. She wants a Rocket Ride.

So there I am, beer in hand, watching Ace Frehley play on my stage, not 15 feet from where I was standing. While introducing Rocket Ride, his next song, he looked down to the front of the stage where a friend of mine was standing with his girlfriend, and drunkenly mumbled into the mic while pointing to her "You look like you could use a rocket ride."

Oh. My. God. So that's what that song is about! It's not about space travel at all! It's about SEX! That explains why "she's" on her knees. She wasn't begging him to give her a ride in his rocket. She was blowing him so he'd give her a ride on his rocket!

And with that, I give you this video. There was never an official video of the song, because music video's hadn't been invented yet. But some fan put this together. You will want to watch it twice. First, so you can hear the song. Second, so you can watch all of the awesome footage from their movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. Try to take note of the African American Ace Frehley stunt double, whose hands they didn't even attempt to cover.