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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

Memories Of A Goodbye KISS

Updated: Feb 29

Over their 50-year career, KISS did more than simply write hits and change the expectation of what a concert should be; they gave fans a lifetime of memories. Inspired many to become musicians, and, yes, when they left the stage for the final time, Dec. 2, 2023, at Madison Square Garden, New York City, they left some fans feeling something less than a warm embrace.


Herewith is a group of folk in the arts and entertainment world who offered a bit of what is noted above, commented on meeting Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, and offered a no-holds-barred look at their final show.


Andrew Daly (Music Journalist, Editor)

Love Gun Shaped Mr. Daly's Life


One day, I discovered my dad's original Love Gun cassette. Just a cassette, no case, in the back of a drawer. And I thought that the song Tomorrow and Tonight, I mistook it for Rock and Roll All Night, which I'd heard on the radio. I put it in. To my dismay, it was not Rock and Roll All Night, but to my neverending joy since, I ended up loving the rest of the tape, and that was what kicked it all off for me.  


Without KISS and the legitimate obsession that followed, I don't think my life would have been defined by music as it has, and my writing probably wouldn't be defined by music as it has. They're everything, you know; I don't know what my life would have been had I not discovered that tape.


Mr. Daly noted that KISS was his first concert, at Jones Beach (Long Island, NY), in July of 2000, the original farewell tour. He said it was a great show. He credits playing guitar and drums to Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, respectively.


Steve E. Ojane (Singer, Songwriter Initial Kick) 

Meeting Gene Simmons


I used to work in Burbank (California), and I had a favorite sub shop on the corner of Olive and Victory. It was around 1995, and I was leaning against the sub shop wall reading an LA Weekly and waiting for my order. I noticed out of the corner of my eye a large figure walked into the shop and picked up a copy of the LA Weekly. I glanced up and caught his profile as he walked out, and I knew in a second it was Gene Simmons. 


I hesitated for a moment and then walked to the door to see where he was going. He walked into the 7-11 next door. Living in LA, you learn to leave celebrities alone. But I thought to myself, at the risk of being a fanboy, how many chances in life do you get to meet Gene Simmons?


Especially all by himself, no entourage, no crowd of fans surrounding him. 


I sheepishly walked into the 7-11 and timidly asked, “Hey Gene, Can I ask you a question?” “


"Do I have to answer,” he replied. 


We both laughed and I said no and continued, ”Phantom of the Park… Devereaux, he’s just dead at the end, but for no reason. No fight, no confrontation, just sitting at his chair in his evil underground lair and… well, he’s just dead. What happened?” 


Gene replied, “You know, I have no idea.” 


He said there was a scripted ending that might have gone a bit differently, but the budget ran out, and they just ended it. 


He concluded, “He may not have been dead, maybe just braindead.” 


I laughed and said, “Cool! Then there could be a sequel!” 


He said, “Not if I can help it, there won’t be a sequel!” 


We laughed, and I shook his hand, telling him he was the inspiration for me playing bass and that it was a pleasure talking with him. We went our separate ways, he got in his black SUV with black tinted windows and pulled away. 


Since then, I’ve always wanted to write a song called "Me and Gene by the Slurpee Machine." ;-)


I'll get to it someday.

 


Danny Martin (Bass, Vocals, WICKED)

KISS Influence

What KISS meant to me, it's a really interesting story. I was not a KISS fan, at first, growing up.


It was actually my brother's best friend, who tragically passed away, who would listen to KISS with Chad (Mr. Martin's brother.) And, of course, that put a little bit of a sentimental thing, at the age of 16, losing your very best friend, that almost became like a keystone or a pillar, something to hold on to for Chad and then for us. 


So we started getting into KISS, and it was pretty cool because anybody who's ever seen the band (his band WICKED) through the years obviously will notice that we had very deep KISS influences, and what a band to be influenced by, right? You're going out to do the theatrical rock and roll, seven-inch platform heels, leather outfits that we made ourselves, looking larger than life. 


They really were the bloodline of how we understood theatrical rock and roll and started to bring our own version to the masses. We didn't want to copy them, and we didn't want to be exactly like them. Never put on the makeup, but always was very inspired by them. I owe a lot to them. 


But also, like anything that you love, you gotta kind of grow beyond it sometimes. And we still hold a really deep, hard center for KISS. But they were just kind of a stepping stone for us to learn where we're going with our music. Because ultimately it's not ending up sounding like a copy of KISS. Which is nice because those guys deserve the respect to be their own selves and likewise for us. 


So, they just are a part of our influences that feeds into how we write and act and entertain, and we owe a lot to them.



Jeff Stolowitz (Digital Creator, Owner The Talon Agency) 

Growing Up With KISS

KISS drove my mom and dad crazy as I played Detroit Rock City over and over and over again when Destroyer came out. My friends and I pretended to be them in my bedroom while smoking bongs, and the whole house shook from me stomping around like Gene Simmons...one of my all-time favorite first bands. Top 10.




Austin Ingerman (Lead Guitar, Vocals, Gunshine)  

KISS Branding

I think the thing I respect the most about KISS is how they created a brand that is uniquely their own, to do what they did, and at the time that they did. It was about the show, and it was about making people feel like it was a party and it just created a whole scene from there. I mean, they influenced so many bands after them and continue to influence artists and musicians today. I think a lot of the bands that have these big theatrical shows nowadays I think, really, you have to credit KISS for sort of starting that trend.


Roger Rignack (Actor)

Meeting Paul Stanley 1987-88


I used to drive a limousine in New York, and I had just dropped this couple off at a nice restaurant on the Upper East Side. Way over, First Avenue, and lo and behold, there's Paul Stanley walking down the street just by himself walking down the street.


I'm like, Paul, hey, need a ride somewhere? He's like 'nah, just got up.' Mr. Rignack laughed; I love the rock star life, just got up at eight o'clock at night; that's nice. And he's walking. I said look, (it's) no problem. I was really trying to get him, I kept insisting, he's like, 'nah it's okay, I really appreciate it, it's fine. I need to get some fresh air. You know, I'm gonna walk. 


(KISS) was my liberation into my teen years and freedom and rock and just expressing myself in a different way that I never had the chance to before...I just loved the theatrics and the fact that no one else had done that. They were innovative and the fact that for many, many years we never knew what they really looked like.


To this day, KISS probably means, maybe, more to me than any other band because they were the first ones. And they've lasted all these years. They never faded out. They've had their ups and downs, but they never went away and (they) went out with a bang.



Jason Draven (Guitarist STARZ)

The Final Show

I was 6 years old when I saw my first KISS concert in 2008. This being one of the first few concerts ever had I seen, I was absolutely blown away by everything they did. The lights, the pyro, the music, I was enamored! 


Flash forward to 2023, KISS has finally said farewell, I am proud to say I was at the final show. It was nothing short of spectacular, and it definitely did not disappoint as far as the actual concert. 


However, KISS’s goodbye to their fans was quite surprising. 


Paul said few words, the band walked off, and the screens turned on to reveal the new avatars. Although I may not have been around as long as many other KISS fans, they’ve been in my life for as long as I can remember. 50 years of music, 22 years of my love for the band, all gone within 30 seconds and a few words, I was shocked. 


It was basically the same as any of the shows on the End of the Road tour. While exiting the garden, I was one of the lucky few who walked out with a golden ticket. Two weeks later, all of the merch and these “special” tickets were all on the band's website for sale. 


I’ve always loved KISS and still do, but this was definitely not what I expected their farewell to be.


 

I have gratitude for each gentleman depicted. They have been, always will be, the background music of my life. Almost every day, I hear at least one KISS song. It is always one of the day’s highlights. I can never thank them enough. ~Charles I. Guarria~

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