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Rock legends Kiss hanging up the leather boots and makeup

The band is one of the most successful of all time, selling more than 100 million albums. They've also become famous for their marketing.
Rock legends Kiss hanging up the leather boots and makeup
Posted at 5:40 PM, Dec 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-01 20:41:39-05

Legendary rock band Kiss says it's time to wipe off the makeup for good.

The Hall of Fame rockers say Saturday's show at New York's Madison Square Garden will be their last.

The band is one of the most successful of all time, selling more than 100 million albums. But over five decades, Kiss has also become known as much for its marketing as its music.

"They quickly learned, especially during the mid-'70s, was there's a business to rock 'n' roll," says Michael Brandvold, a Kiss fan who was hired to launch the band's first official website that went online back in 1998. "All the characters, all the visuals that band created were ideal for business."

Beyond T-shirts and posters, the Kiss website once sold a real "Kiss Kasket," adorned with the band's artwork and autographs. It cost $4,700.

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"Kiss has basically become a brand, not a band anymore. And there's nothing wrong with that," says Brandvold, who owns a public relations firm in Northern California and also co-hosts the "Three Sides of the Coin" Kiss-themed podcast.

From action figures to Pez dispensers to bobbleheads, Kiss superfans like Mike Fitzpatrick try to collect it all.

Fitzpatrick even has a few unique and rare items, including bottles of Kiss cologne and a 1978 comic that just might contain band member DNA. The ink was infused with vials of blood taken from the band.

"Vials of each of their blood was mixed into the ink for the original run," Fitzpatrick says.

From stage to screen and nearly every medium in between — including cartoons and TV movies — Kiss has enjoyed unprecedented success. Original members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, who even had his own reality show on A&E, are worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The band insists this really is their last tour. Gene Simmons is 74.

But with so much money to be made, Brandvold wouldn't be surprised to see some version of the band one day rock again.

"Could there be a one-off appearance at some point in the future?" he asks. "It's in their blood. They love being onstage."

That iconic makeup that brought fans so much joy over the years may be black and white, but it's also still bringing Kiss a whole lot of green.


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