Are KISS Fans Feel Vindicated with Rock & Roll Hall Induction? Jojo Talks to KISS Army Co-Founder
KISS finally received its rightful spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and they gave all the credit to their tenacious fans, who long before the advent of social networking online, formed a real life social network that gave the band life in its infancy.
This morning, I talked to one of the creators of the KISS Army, which became the marketing arm of the band’s burgeoning empire.
Bill Starkey and his friend Jay Evans formed the KISS Army in the ’70s to get the word out to their friends and to radio in their hometown of Terre Haute, Ind.
The abuse they took at the hands of their peers bonded them together, and they later declared war on radio stations to get the band more airplay.
The turning point came when the band released its huge live album, “KISS Alive!” in 1976.
Recorded at Detroit’s Cobo Hall, Starkey said it was clear Michigan rock fans were playing a big role in making the band bigger than it was.
Starked also talked about hounding radio stations to play the band, and how the KISS Army was a result of teen-age angst.
And here’s pop culture writer Chuck Klosterman’s love letter to the band from Grantland, and the reasons why he thinks the honor is long overdue.
[T]here is at least one metric that makes sense to me: the sheer number of people who really care about an artist, demonstrated over time. This does not privilege the taste of an exclusive class of people who get to decide for everyone else, nor does it mechanically reflect a raw numeric census of anyone who once purchased an album or once attended a concert. I’m referring to the long-term accumulation of people who are exceptionally invested in a particular artist’s existence; essentially, I’m referring to the kind of people crazy enough to care whether a few musicians they’ve never met are inducted into a mythical society that serves no nonsymbolic purpose. Certainly, every major artist has a handful of fans who fit into this category. But some have way more. And if an artist’s career output fosters that kind of following on a mass scale for multiple generations, they’ve obviously done something right. They’ve created art that validates itself, and which doesn’t need to be validated by anyone else….
As a counterexample, take a band like Boston. The first Boston record has more good songs than any Kiss record, and Tom Scholz is more talented than all the members of Kiss combined. The eponymous 1976 Boston LP sold 17 million copies, which roughly equates with the aggregate sales for all Kiss studio records involving the original members. I’m a big fan of Boston, as is much of middle-aged America. There are more reasonable people who like the music of Boston than there are reasonable people who like the music of Kiss. But Boston are not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and very few listeners care. Nobody feels betrayed or outraged. And this is because there aren’t enough humans who love Boston for nonmusical reasons. Such creatures exist, but they are few and far between.