We Answer The Musical Question "When Did KISS Jump The Shark?"

Sure, it's no longer cool to dig KISS, but, let's face it, if you are a dude or dudette "of a certain age", you did at one time think KISS were pretty damn cool. You owned all the records, went to their shows, and, on at least one occasion, went as your favorite KISS member for Halloween.

Of course, like most bands, KISS made their share of mistakes and, at some point, they jumped the shark, thereby causing a great number of fans to fall off the KISS bandwagon. Of course, some of us have hopped on and off that very same bandwagon more than once. Come on, admit it, when the original line-up reunited in 1996, most of us got at least a little bit excited. Hey, I saw the lines outside Tower Records and other Ticketmaster outlets as fans waited for tickets to go on-sale (these being the "good ol' days" before online ticket sales even existed).

When did KISS truly jump the shark, though?

Was it when the four members of the band each released their own solo album on the very same day in September of 1978, with each dedicating their album to the other three members of the band? Never mind the fact that Gene Simmons felt the need to record his own rendition of the schmaltzy standard "When You Wish Upon A Star", the very idea of the marketplace being flooded by the arrival of 20 million copies of brand new KISS solo albums is mind-boggling these days, considering that album sales of top-flight artists have dwindled so drastically.

Was it when they appeared on national television two days before Halloween 1978 (a mere month after their solo albums flooded the market) in the epic cheese-fest that was "KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park"? This dreadful drama took place in an amusement park where evil scientist Abner Devereaux (played by Anthony Zerbe) turns Melissa's boyfriend Sam into a lifeless cyborg. After getting fired, he unleashes a robotic Gene Simmons that wreaks havoc upon the park, then neutralizes the band's super powers before capturing them in his underground lair. Sure, there were holes in the plot large enough to drive a dump truck through, but since most of us were quite young and had yet to fully develop our bullshit detectors, very few of us cared.

Was it when KISS went disco on 1979's Dynasty album, unleashing the craptastic single "I Was Made For Loving You"? Sure, the single was one of their highest sellers, going Top 10 in nine different countries (it peaked at #11 in the US), but at what expenses? To their fans, KISS embodied all that was great about rock & roll. For many, seeing their heroes embrace disco was a huge slap in the face.

Was it when they released the Unmasked album in 1980, but remained masked, merely hinting at the prospect of removing their make-up in order to sell more albums? It didn't work, as Unmasked was the first KISS album since Dressed To Kill not to go Platinum.

Was it when they finally appeared on MTV sans make-up a full three years after the last KISS fan stopped giving a damn? By then, of course, both Peter Criss and Ace Frehley had been kicked out of the band.

Was it when, after thirteen years of declining album sales and concert revenue that Gene Simmons begrudgingly brought Ace and Peter back into the fold for a full-fledged "make-up and all" reunion tour in 1996? I mean, let's face it, while many of us jumped at the chance to relive a part of our childhoods, the simple truth is that it was a calculated nostalgia-based cash-in, nothing more, nothing less.

Was it when Peter Criss left the band again in 2001 and was replaced by Eric Singer, who committed sacrilege by wearing the same "Cat man" make-up that Criss had made famous? Let's face it, this move was a new low for the band and basically exclaimed to all that Ace and Peter were expendable members of the band. Later Ace replacement Tommy Thayer went on to wear Ace's "Star man" make-up and continues to do so to this day when the band performs.

Was it when KISS took merchandising to new extremes that same year by debuting the KISS Kasket? Gene Simmons unveiled the ridiculous item, declaring "I love livin', but this makes the alternative look pretty damn good." Amazingly, the band expects to unveil a "new and improved" KISS Kasket this month. Don't hold your breath for too long, though, or you'll be buried in a regular casket before this one becomes available. In the meantime, perhaps you'll be interested in picking up a KISS golf club cover or, better yet, a KISS trailer hitch. Seriously, who the fuck decided the world needed KISS trailer hitches? We're amazed Gene didn't think of offering KISS truck balls (pictured above thanks to our trusty Photoshop skillz)

Or was it when Gene Simmons saw Ozzy Osbourne making crazy money off of his own TV reality show and decided to start his own, called "Gene Simmons' Family Jewels". Sigh.

Crikey, it's not a matter of when KISS jumped the shark, but how many times. That's quite the legacy, Gene.

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