Ask any musical artist, and they’ll agree that one of the most important factors in their success is their fans. Whether it be from the actions of a street team, frequent fliers at live shows, or just constant word-of-mouth support, musicians owe a lot to their fans. This brings us to Kiss, and their Kiss Army.
There’s one fanbase immensely more dedicated than any other: the Kiss Army.
We’ve decided to take a look into the history of one of music’s most passionate fanbases.
Check out ‘Strutter’ by Kiss:
In early 1973, the band were born in New York City. Driven by a desire to deliver some of the finest hard rock their fans had ever heard, the band quickly became a staple of their city’s live music scene. In just over a year, the band had recorded and released their debut self-titled album, and their profile continued to rise.
By January of 1975, the band’s influence had spread over the US state of Indiana, where two fans – Bill Starkey and Jay Evans – had developed an insatiable appetite for the band’s music. Eager to hear the group’s tunes on the radio, the pair frequently called a local station, making requests that sadly went ignored.
Figuring they needed to get their foot in the door, the pair decided to act on behalf of the fictitious Kiss Army, with Starkey naming himself the President, and Evans a Field Marshall of this fake organisation.
Soon enough, Starkey and Evans ramped up their efforts, sending letters signed by the Kiss Army which eventually convinced those at their local radio station to play Kiss’ music. However, their plan had worked a little too well, and before long, more fans began asking how they could join.
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Check out Kiss’ ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’:
By November, the Kiss Army had attracted the attention of the band’s publicist, who contacted Bill Starkey and Jay Evans to enlist their help in promoting an upcoming concert.
Following an on-air push for members on their local radio station, the band’s November 21st show in Terra Haute, Indiana sold all 10,000 tickets, and Bill Starkey was formally acknowledged by the band, who named him an honorary member of the collective.
Following this gig, the Kiss Army was recognised as the official fan club, and it’s membership grew at an exponential rate, boasting over 100,000 fans at its peak.
However, following the release of Destroyer in 1976, Bill Starkey was informed that the Kiss Army was no longer a grass-roots organisation, with the band’s management taking control of the fan club. Now, the Kiss Army had the chance to become much more organised, and it’s more formal structure of management saw the club continue to grow.
Check out Kiss’ ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’:
While the Kiss Army’s membership decreased throughout the ’80s and ’90s, it’s remaining members continued to be as dedicated as ever, supporting the band at every turn, and appearing front row at almost every gig.
As technology continued to advance, the Kiss Army soon took to the Internet, maintaining an online presence that continues to this day. These days, while the grassroots nature of the fan club no longer exists, the Kiss Army still serves as a way for fans to meet up with others, score early tickets to upcoming gigs, and share their shared dedication with each other.
While countless other fan clubs will claim that they’re the most passionate group of fans out there (we’re looking at you, Deadheads), there’s no denying the sense of community, dedication, and sheer immenseness of the KISS Army.