Fans of KISS are mobilizing over a perceived diss.
Some 500 aficionados of the makeup-happy, blood-spewing metal gods descended upon the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland on Saturday to protest KISS' exclusion from the shrine.
Members of the KISS Army caravanned from all over the U.S. and Canada for the rally, turning up at Voinovich Park in full band regalia, chanting "We Want KISS!" and carrying signs bearing the message "Though Shalt Not Delay the Induction of KISS."
Launched by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, KISS first hit the charts with its eponymous debut record in 1974. The band became eligible for Rock Hall consideration in 1999 and has been on the ballot in subsequent years, but never managed to get the necessary support from voters (including fellow musicians, journalists, music historians and industry types).
"We're not going to settle for a nomination. We want an induction," KISS rally organizer Kim Rolfe, who boasts of having seen the group more than 40 times, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The spokeswoman for the New York-based Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, Elizabeth Freund, was unavailable for comment. But a museum representative told the Associated Press that this was the first time rock's hallowed hall has ever faced a demonstration by fans of a snubbed band. (The folks at the Hall responded to the demonstration by blasting "Rock and Roll All Nite" over the exterior P.A. system.)
According to the Hall of Fame's Website, inductions are decided on the basis of "the influence and significance of the artist's contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll."
Emerging from New York's glam-rock scene, KISS became better know for its rollicking concerts (complete with Simmons spitting blood and blowing fire) and merchandising acumen (the band never met a marketing opportunity it didn't like) than its hit records ("Rock and Roll All Nite," "Beth," "I Was Made for Loving You"). Nonetheless, the band's larger than life persona, explosive stage theatrics and driving hooks paved the way for, better or worse, such '80s outfits as Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister and Poison.
And it spawned the worshipful KISS Army fan club, which has been petitioning the Hall of Fame for several years to recognize its favorite band. But after six years without enshrinement, the faithful decided to kick it up a notch.
"We love it. It shows they're involved and they care," museum spokesman Todd Mesek told the Plain Dealer. "These fans are passionate enough to come to the mecca and to stand up for their band."
There's been no comment from band masterminds Simmons or Stanley. They've been busy on the road, having just wrapped a brief Japanese tour and playing an intimate gig on July 26 for 1,300 fans at the Chumash Casino in Santa Barbara. Simmons has also been doing press for his new Osbournes-esque reality series, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which premieres Monday night on the A&E.
Of course, KISS isn't the first band to make noise over Rock Hall exclusion. Ozzy Osbourne expressed his indignation at Black Sabbath repeatedly being a Rock Hall reject, accusing voters of "elitism" after dissing him two years in a row and demanding his band be removed from the ballot.
But Sabbath remained up for consideration and Osbourne made nice after the band was tapped for the class of '06 alongside the Sex Pistols, Blondie, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Miles Davis.
We'll have to wait and see if the KISS cabal manages to sway voters. Nominations for the class of '07 are due to be announced next month, with the inductees unveiled in December.