On January 16, 1975 a struggling New York band that wore garish face paint and black leather costumes ascended atop the Playboy Building in West Hollywood, CA. Just a couple months after releasing their sophomore album Hotter Than Hell, KISS was still trying to break big in record sales but were quickly gaining a reputation as one of rock’s best concert acts.
The Hotter than Hell album did not receive the promotional push that it deserved due to KISS’ distribution deal with Warner Brothers expiring. Also of note is the murky production value of the tracks with the guitars especially sounding overdriven to the point of distraction. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the charm of its sound but it obviously could have sounded much better at the time.
After playing a show 2 nights prior in Eugene, OR, the band arrives in Los Angeles for a two week run of shows that will begin the following night at Long Beach Arena.
On a rare day off, the band poses for these photos with the Hollywood Hills as a backdrop. The Playboy Building, an offshoot of its main office in Chicago, opened in the 1960’s and now occupied by different tenants. It’s worth noting that these photos feature Ace Frehley wearing platform boots that would later be modified and handed down to Vinnie Vincent in 1982 as he was being ushered into the band as the new character of Egyptian Warrior.
|Vinnie Vincent Sporting Ace Frehley’s Footwear|
Also of note to me is the obvious camaraderie between the band members. This was still, mostly, a time of innocence for KISS. I say “mostly” due to recalling the story of Peter Criss threatening to quit the band over not having a drum solo in the middle of the song Strange Ways. Aside from that, they still seemed to be in an all-for-one situation and these photos provide a great snapshot of a band that was getting its first taste of fame while on the precipice of fortune.
Special thanks to KISS Legends Alive and Michael Ochs Agency for supplying these photos. Credit also due to Richard Creamer and Edward Przydzial. We hope you enjoy them as much as we have putting this presentation together.
– Chris Czynszak