Saturday, November 2, 2013


Started reading the new KISS bio Nothin' to Lose earlier this week. I give most new books on the band a miss, but was drawn to this one by the name Ken Sharp, who wrote the excellent Behind the Mask (a book that was originally written as a ...quickie mass-market paperback in 1979, then shelved when KISS’ popularity took a dive in the US that year, before being dusted off and tidied-up in 2003). Presented in the (overly?) familiar oral history format, Nothin' to Lose only covers the band’s classic formative years of 1972 - 1975, from their early days playing grimy dives in Queens to an audience of none, through constant tours in support of albums that barely sold, to the surprise multi-platinum success of KISS Alive! (their double-live album that was hardly live at all). Looking back, it’s amazing to think the band were able to pump out three studio albums and a double-live album, while barely staying off the road, within a space of just two years (though they were certainly far from being the only band who were prolific at putting out new material during the 1960s/70s).

A good read so far, with lots of input from former roadies, concert promoters, club owners, contemporaries and collaborators, and of course, the original band members themselves. Throw in lots of colour/B&W photos I can’t recall ever seeing before, and Nothin' to Lose already becomes a much-recommended book for fans of old-school KISS, even those who have become thoroughly jaded by the band over the two decades.

I do have to call Gene Simmons out, though, on his claim that the band’s signature breakthrough hit, Rock & Roll All Nite, was adapted from an earlier song he’d written called Drive My Car, which Simmons claims was inspired by the Stephen King novel CHRISTINE. Nice story - except Rock & Roll All Nite came out in 1975, and CHRISTINE wasn’t published until 1983! Gene never lets little things like facts get in the way of a good story...