Kiss (often stylized as KISS) is an American hard rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Easily identified by its members' face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s on the basis of their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics. Kiss has been awarded 24 gold albums to date. The band has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States, of which 19 million have been certified by the RIAA, and their worldwide sales exceeds 100 million albums.
The 1973-'80 lineup of Paul Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals and bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar and vocals), and Peter Criss (drums, percussion and vocals) is the most successful and identifiable. With their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style characters: Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley), and Catman (Criss). The band explains that the fans were the ones who ultimately chose their makeup designs. Paul Stanley became the "Starchild" because of his tendency to be referred to as the "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic." The "Demon" makeup reflected Simmons's cynicism and dark sense of humor, as well as his affection for comic books. Ace Frehley's "Spaceman" makeup was a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and supposedly being from another planet. Peter Criss's "Catman" makeup was in accordance with the belief that Criss had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn. Because of creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were out of the group by 1982. The band's commercial fortunes had also waned considerably by that point. Buoyed by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, the band announced a reunion of the original lineup (with makeup) in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide/Lost Cities/Reunion Tour was the top-grossing act of 1996 and 1997. Criss and Frehley have since left Kiss again and have been replaced by Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, respectively. The band continues to perform with makeup, while Stanley and Simmons have remained the only two constant members.
Kiss has been named to many "Top" lists. They include Number 10 on VH1's '100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock', 9th on 'The Greatest Metal Bands' list by MTV, #1 on Hit Paraders's "Top 100 Live Bands", 56th on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time", and 2nd on Digital Dream Door's " Best Hair Metal Bands".
Kiss was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ten years after becoming eligible. However, on December 15, 2009 it was announced that Kiss did not make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Because of the ambiguity in the distinction between "hard rock" and "heavy metal", Kiss' music has always been labeled one or the other. But shortly after the band's formation, critics called them "thunderockers". They also experimented in the disco (Dynasty), pop rock (Unmasked), art rock/progressive rock (Music from "The Elder") and grunge (Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions) styles. Their music is described by Allmusic as "a commercially potent mix of anthemic, fist-pounding hard rock, driven by sleek hooks and ballads powered by loud guitars, cloying melodies, and sweeping strings. It was a sound that laid the groundwork for both arena rock and the pop-metal that dominated rock in the late '80s." Its first critical review described Kiss as "an American Black Sabbath" in Rolling Stone. "With twin guitars hammering out catchy mondo-distorto riffs and bass and drums amiably bringing up the rear," said Stone of Hotter Than Hell, "Kiss spews forth a deceptively controlled type of thunderous hysteria, closely akin to the sound once popularized by the German panzer tank division." At the same time, Bennington Banner from Rock Music magazine said, "with its members bizarre, Kabuki-like makeup, studded black leather costumes and arsenal of on-stage firepower - both musical and literal - Kiss represents the most extreme form of hard rock in 1974