Kiss star Paul Stanley’s favourite AC/DC album

Kiss

Their thick make-up and bold, intimidating outfits may convey the impression of stage fear, providing a level of anonymity to hide behind. However, Kiss established itself as one of the most loud and uncompromising bands to push the 1970s hard rock vanguard. Formed in 1973, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss absorbed glam rock influences, forming their unique style.

Kiss, an early proponent of the so-called shock-rock genre, placed the highest priority on live performance. To match their outrageous costumes, the foursome used pyrotechnics, optical illusions, and fake blood. These elements brought the show to life and piqued the audience’s interest. The mid-1970s saw Kiss reign supreme, fueled by their signature blend of blistering guitar riffs and pulse-pounding beats. This laid the framework for the punk and metal genres.

“Being in Kiss in the very first year and touring around the United States, we felt like we were taking off,” bassist and co-lead vocalist Gene Simmons said at the End of the Road World Tour Program in 2019. “It was like someone shoving you into the deep end of the pool, regardless of whether you could swim. Kiss’s early years were not particularly glamorous. Every day, we traveled hundreds of miles by station wagon.”

“We would take turns driving and sleeping in the back,” he said. “We ate hamburgers in wayside taverns and pulled over and peed on the side of a long stretch of highway when we couldn’t find a town nearby. And we ate beans and franks since we couldn’t afford nicer cuisine on our $ 85-a-week salary! Becoming a rock star exceeded all of my expectations.”

The New York Dolls’ flamboyant glam and the thunderous riffs of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath heavily influenced Kiss’s early sound. As the band grew, new contemporaries such as AC/DC became a driving force in competition.

Speaking to Classic Rock in 2023, Paul Stanley revealed Kiss’ obsession with AC/DC, stating that he was originally skeptical of replacement frontman Brian Johnson after Bon Scott died in 1980. “When Brian Johnson joined AC/DC, I was curious – like everyone was – about how that would impact the band and the chemistry they had with Bon Scott,” he went on to say.

Stanley then disclosed that Back In Black, the Australian band’s first record with Johnson, has become an all-time fave. “But what they created with Back In Black was just monumental,” he went on to say. “The way that album begins with ‘Hells Bells‘, it impacted me like the first time I heard Black Sabbath-like, ‘Holy crap!’ With Back In Black, the band’s sound was somewhat polished. They were progressing by building on their previous efforts. They abandoned their early bare-bones grit for this driving sonic overkill. But that was wonderful. “I thought what was gained outweighed what was lost.”

Listen to ‘Hell’s Bells,’ the first track on AC/DC’s Back In Black, below.

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