I certainly never expected that my first overseas trip after the pandemic would be to Paris, where I would board the private jet of rock band KISS, sitting in a luxurious leather chair facing living legends Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
If you’re a reporter for 60 Minutes, be prepared for some pretty weird and wonderful – sometimes downright wacky – adventures. You don’t always know where you will end up or who you are facing. And I can tell you, I certainly never expected that my first overseas trip after the pandemic would be to Paris, where I would board the private jet of rock band KISS, sitting in a luxurious leather chair facing living legends Gene Simmons and Paul. stanley.
The thought never crossed my mind.
Yet there I was, out with the rockers, on my way from Paris to London after seeing them perform on stage in the city of love barely 12 hours earlier. This was the European leg of their ‘End of the Road’ world tour and 60 Minutes got exclusive access as they kissed the stage ‘goodbye’.
And let me tell you, it was a wild ride. I was prepared for (and warned of) the innuendo and antics of these veteran pluckers—Gene 72 and Paul 70 have been playing bass and guitar respectively since they first formed KISS in 1973—but they were also controversial, brash, rambunctious, and neat. flirty for so long.
And not much has changed, but time has matured them. And these days, they may seem more playful than controversial. A little more wimpy dad than sleazy rock god (I hope they don’t read this, I’m not sure they like that!) and they sure are graceful.
Like most people I am familiar with the music of Kiss, Rock and Roll all night, scream it loud and I was made to love you, are among the more famous songs. Everyone recognizes their iconic makeup and everyone has heard stories about their lust for the ladies. They are not shy about the fact that they have always been out to take advantage of fame and fortune.
However, they also appreciate that it takes a lot of hard work and countless hours to maintain that fame and fortune. But as I got further into the band before the story started, I learned a lot more about them, their backgrounds and histories, how they built the kiss brand and that, other than women and money, Gene and Paul’s excesses generally don’t end there. extended into the murky world of drugs and alcohol, often inhabited by other rock groups of the same era, even the original fellow members of their own band, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley.
And the truth is, very soon after meeting them, I was much more intrigued than I thought I would be. They are quite humorous, they are smart, smart and professional. And they know how to have fun. They know they need to be just as excited today as they were 49 years ago to maintain their brains and the wealth that comes with it. In the days we spent with KISS, I gained an important insight.
It was fascinating to watch them operate and observe their actions and interactions both on and off camera. The four band members – Tommy Thayer on lead guitar and Eric Singer on drums round out the band – are all very different people with their own personalities. Eric, for example, has a fascination for watches. Tommy likes to read books, especially biographies.
They are all avid consumers of news and information and when the cameras weren’t rolling Paul showed me pictures of his family and a new present for his wife and Gene talked to me about Syria and the art of language – he speaks five – as well as his philanthropy.
Love them or hate them, you can’t deny Kiss has built an empire. It’s not just about the music, but it’s the music that makes the wheels spin. Sure, they’ve had their critics over the years and maybe some of it was justified, but any way you look at it, the supergroup certainly knows how to entertain.
Beyond that, the stage is their home. They transform physically and mentally into their alter-egos – the demon, the star child, the spaceman and cat man – and enjoy every second of being something different for the night. While they’re happy to tell you, it’s also clear to see that men in their sixties and seventies have the energy of performers in their twenties, which isn’t easy in those costumes. I tried on Gene’s boots and they are heavy!
If you were to judge a book by its cover, Kiss would just be a bunch of wacky guys painting their faces and dressing up as superhero (or villainous) cartoon characters, planning their next business venture. But flip through the pages and you’ll see there’s so much more content behind the war paint and these guys definitely have a great story to tell.
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