One of the most popular KISS-related shows we've done was our GPS: KISS Landmarks episode with special guest host Chris Epting. Chris is well-versed in KISS, pop culture, and travel as he's written books on all three. He also now hosts a great new music talk show that you can access HERE.
We had such a great response to that episode that we knew we had to do a part 2 for this year's KISSMAS in JULY. We're fortunate that Chris was equally enthusiastic about coming back to discuss KISS Landmarks. So, let's crank up the engine and hit the highway!
1 Washington Blvd Detroit, MI 48226 - Cobo Hall
A very pivotal location in KISS’ history. Most well-known for a sold-out 3 night stand in January of 1976, Cobo was one of the hosts of the Alive! album and was a meeting place for the blue-collar faithful that made up KISS’ early fan base.
It’s also worth noting that it was the host venue for 1984’s Animalize Live/Uncensored performance as well as the venue chosen for the kickoff of the Alive 35 tour in 2009.
238 Bagley Avenue, Detroit, MI - MichiganPalace
Another well-known marker of KISS’ early Detroit dominance, the Michigan Palace was built in 1926 as a movie theater and hosted KISS on their earliest American tours.
Michigan Palace location
It was also a beneficial presence for KISS’ promotional efforts as it was utilized for the videos for Rock N Roll All Nite and C’mon & Love Me as well as the cover photo for the Alive! album shot by Fin Costello. The majority of the structure was torn down but the ornate ceilings can still be seen above the parking garage that sits in its place today.
Corner of 23rd & 8th, NYC – Dressed to Kill Cover site.
The only non-structure on our list, this street corner will always big popular in the annals of KISStory. In 1975, a then-struggling KISS was working on a creative photo shoot with legendary New York photographer Bob Gruen.
Inspiration struck during this shoot and the members of the band were in quick need of some business suits. Peter, being the only one that actually owned a suit, looked spiffy on this cover but the rest of the band looked awkward due to having to borrow manager Bill Aucoin’s duds and Gene borrowing Gruen’s wife’s clogs. It’s a strange album cover for sure but always a destination for KISS fans visiting the Big Apple.
1255 Hempstead Turnpike Uniondale, NY 11553 - Nassau Coliseum
While Madison Square Garden will probably always be the crown jewel of New York rock concerts, Uniondale’s Nassau Coliseum has a special place in KISStory from a special time. On 12/31/1975, the band was presented with their first gold album awards prior to taking the stage.
Also of note for this concert was the fact that Blue Oyster Cult were the opening act. This was symbolic in the fact that a year prior, KISS was opening in this venue for BOC. This took place 2 years to the day of their first public performance at the Academy of Music. A true crossroads for the band on their way to superstardom.
Now known as the Valley View Casino Center, the San Diego Sports Arena was host to many classic rock bands from the 1970’s and KISS is no exception. Built in 1966, the arena has hosted numerous sporting events as well as notable concerts by acts like Jimi Hendrix, Tina Turner and Metallica.
San Diego Sports Arena
San Diego Sports Arena fits in the KISS ether by way of one very famous photograph. The gatefold image of KISS in full bombastic glory from the Alive II album has always been a stern message to other bands to “Top this!” While it’s one of the most iconic photos in rock history, it’s origin location is refuted by the original photographer. Barry Levine has claimed in interviews that the photo was not snapped at Sports Arena but, in fact, at L.A.’s Forum. Regardless of where it was taken, it still makes many say “Wow” upon first glance.
254 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 – Studio 54
Studio 54 will always be strongly tied to the disco era. The Manhattan haven for debauchery was an escape for many well known celebrities from the entertainment and fashion worlds including members of KISS. Paul Stanley was actually inspired to write ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’ after a night at 54 listening to pulsating disco beats that were on top of the charts.
Also of KISS note, Studio 54 was the host venue for one of the only times that band performed as a trio. KISS were set to lip-synch to the song ‘I’ from the Music from The Elder album during a live satellite broadcast for the San Remo Festival in Italy in January 1982. Ace Frehley was a no-show and the band had to soldier on despite his absence. A very strange location for a very strange performance from a very strange album. Strange, indeed.
After taking a huge leap of faith by unmasking on MTV in 1983, KISS decided to go half a world away to break in the fresh-faced version of the band. Located. literally, in a highly vegetated jungle-like atmosphere, KISS unveiled their new look for the Lick it Up tour at Cascais Hall in Lisbon, Portugal.
Cascais Hall, Lisbon
As evidenced by the footage on KISSOLOGY Volume 2, the Portuguese fans were a bit surprised by the band’s new appearance but were quickly won over by the energetic ferocity that they still brought to the stage.
T C Industrial Park, Depew NY, 14043 – Borden Ink Plant (Marvel Comics)
By 1977, KISS were keenly aware of what it took to generate press attention. They took full advantage of a good story by flying out to the Borden Ink Plant near Buffalo, NY to pour viles of their own blood into the red ink for use in their upcoming Marvel comic.
Borden Ink, Depew NY
Marvel master Stan Lee was on hand as well as a notary and members of the press. This was an iconic moment in the band’s history and it also ushered in the saturation of non-musical merchandise that was to come.
1 Stuart St Binghamton, New York 13901 – Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena
We’re sure a lot of KISS fans are wondering what Binghampton, NY could possibly have to do with Kisstoric landmarks. Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena was built in 1973 and has hosted a number of notable events including a pair of Elvis’ final concerts.
Broome County Arena, Binghampton NY
Of KISS note, it is the only venue to feature a full Mark St. John KISS performance. Struggling with Reiter’s Syndrome, St. John was sidelined for most of the Animalize tour and played a couple of split shows with then-replacement member Bruce Kulick. But in Binghampton, St. John would play the entire set. Being a rather small arena, only a select number of fans got to witness one very unique and short-lived lineup of KISS.
100 1st Avenue Nashville TN - Riverfront Park
Fresh off the release of KISS My Ass: Classic KISS Regrooved, the band was only playing a handful of U.S. dates in 1994. Decibel Gee’s own Chris Czynszak was fortunate enough to see one of them.
Riverfront Park, Nashville TN
Headlining the Gibson Guitars 100th Anniversary concert, KISS played after an eclectic mix of artists including Pat Travers, Brother Cane, and Fleetwood Mac. The band threw down a musical gauntlet without the use of pyro or flashy stage effects. Performing on a floating stage, the band pulled out a barrage of heavy and obscure tunes that had the diehards panting for more. Truly a unique concert in KISStory.
1000 Elysian Park Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012 - DodgerStadium
After record-breaking attendance numbers on the reunion tour or 1996-97, KISS were determined to assault the media with the launch of new album and tour Psycho Circus. On Halloween night of 1998, the band received wall-to-wall coverage on the FOX Network due to their guesting on numerous shows including Mad TV and Millenium.
The network also aired the beginning of a raucous concert at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium. While the merits of the album and pre-tour hype are hot-button topics for any KISS fan, it’s pretty clear that this venue, on this night, hosted a band that had truly returned to form.
8255 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, California 90046 – Casablanca Records Offices
Soon to be documented by a Hollywood film and already documented by the great book by Larry Harris, Casablanca Records Offices were abuzz in the 1970’s in more ways than one.
Casablanca Records Site
With cocaine running rampant and hype spilling out of every corner thanks to the enthusiasm of label owner Neil Bogart, the Casablanca Offices provide a perfect example of the phrase “If walls could talk.” There are some famous photos in KISS-fan circles of the large billboard outside the building that would regularly feature KISS album advertisements.
3000 West Alameda Avenue, Burbank, California – NBC Studios
This location is famous for some of the biggest moments in television history; The Tonight Show being one of the biggest. But, for KISS fans, this sacred ground is the site of one of KISS’ most explosive television appearances.
NBC Studios Site
On 4/1/1975, KISS ripped through a handful of future-classics in front of a slack-jawed audience on The Midnight Special. This fiery performance included loads of energy by the front three as well as machine gun-like drumming from Peter Criss as well as Chris totally trashing his drum kit at the end of the set (a la Keith Moon). This footage is a great way to show a newbie how powerful KISS was in the early days.
483 George St Sydney NSW 2000, Australia – Sydney Town Hall
While KISS’ popularity was certainly waning in the United States in 1980 after a big change in sound and a personnel change at drummer, the band was massive in Australia. The KISS tour of Australia in 1980 was as close to Beatlemania as a band could get.
Sidney Town Hall
Playing soccer stadiums, making front page news every day, and parties that seemed to never end, the band had their official welcome on the balcony of Sydney Town Hall looking down on thousands of fans that had gathered to get a glimpse of their heroes.
2121 Trumbull St., Detroit, MI 48216 – Tiger Stadium
If there was ever one place that every KISS fan wanted to be it was Detroit’s Tiger Stadium on June 28th, 1996. Paul, Gene, Ace, and Peter finally delivered on what so many fans had dreamed of; a full reunion with the original band.
Tiger Stadium Site
Playing to a massive sold out audience, KISS was there to say “Meet the new boss….same as the old boss”
8852 W Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 – The Viper Room
Guest host Chris Epting has a personal KISS connection to this venue and the next. The Viper Room was the venue that Chris and his son were allowed to interview all four members of KISS on August 13, 2012.
The Viper Room
The band were there to unveil the massive Monster book. Chris and his son had a special moment with the band as Gene took note of the strong father and son bond that had connected the two through the love of the band.
6300 Pacific Coast Hwy, Redondo Beach, CA - Rock and Brews Restaurant
Closing out our discussion of KISS Landmarks is another location near and dear to Chris Epting. On May 13, 2013 the band performed and impromptu 3 song set at the grand opening of Rock and Brews PCH location.
Rock & Brews PCH
Not using their trademark gear, the band performed with the gear that was laying around but still pulled off an energetic set that had KISS fans in the crowd excited. We close out the show with an exclusive audio clip of KISS performing ‘Hotter Than Hell.’
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