While celebrating the debut of KISS's "Self-titled" album is definitely important, we can't forget an event that gave millions of Americans their first glimpse of the band's unique style and strutting charisma they've become known for over the past forty years. The super group made their first national live appearance for ABC's "In Concert" on March 29th, 1974. The lives of millions of people were about to be forever impacted by a raw rock'n'roll beast.
The beast known as KISS was fueled by an unbridled energy the individuals in the band gathered within themselves through their onstage personas. The Starchild, the Demon, the Spaceman, and the Catman all worked together in perfect unison when three tracks were recorded on February 19th to be aired the following month. Everything about the performance exuded a tight group of individuals destined for greatness and willing to claw their way to the top of the music charts and achieve overall world domination.
It's clear from the choice of songs that were chosen to be played that KISS was already planning one step ahead. "Nothin' to Lose" was a rollicking hard rock tune that gave bassist/singer Gene Simmons plenty of spotlight to show off his powerful growly voice and instrumental chops.
"Firehouse" made it evident that Starchild Paul Stanley could command a crowd and mesmerize them through his unique vocal styles and gyrating body movements. The song also gave Gene Simmons the perfect opportunity to give viewers a glimpse at his soon-to-expand stage antics as he breathed fire in front of the awe-filled studio audience.
"Black Diamond" closed out the set by showing a softer side of KISS for a moment, foreshadowing future dalliances in the world of ballads like "Beth" and "Forever" a couple of decades later. The sample only lasted a few seconds before Stanley's shout of "Hit It!" ushered in the loud anthemic rings of rock guitar and drummer Peter Criss's banging of the skins. The Catman then belted out the first lines of the song, giving Americans coast-to-coast their first opportunity to hear his soulful and commanding voice. Although Ace Frehley didn't really get a chance to show off his vocal abilities, he more than made up for it through his sharp guitar strumming and wailing lead guitar licks.
The entire set was brought to a bombastic climax through the winding down heard at the end of "Black Diamond," as displayed on their debut album. Throughout the band's instrumental finale, fireworks were super-imposed over the concert footage and scenes of the crowd jumping up and down and applauding were shown. It truly was the perfect way for America to be introduced to the "Hottest Band in the World."
There's no doubt that this first televised appearance was instrumental in recruiting millions of die-hard fanatics for the KISS Army. The "In Concert" performance was just a teaser for what they could expect when seeing the band in a live atmosphere as they went out on tour in support of their debut album. Forty years later, KISS still proves to put on the greatest rock'n'roll show on the Earth!