Rock It: Fans look back at KISS, Crüe

Posted on November 13, 2013


Rock It: Fans look back at KISS, Crüe

Kiss (Photo Provided)

Kiss (Photo Provided)

By Rachael Mattice

KISS and Mötley Crüe initially infatuated people with their flamboyant theatrics and striking appearances, drowning themselves in makeup, leather and hairspray.

Crüe, more than KISS, also aroused interest based on their reputation as hedonistic, sleazy, ruckus-making pioneers. KISS and Crüe can be blamed for promoting the ideology of “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Much of both bands’ commercial success, though, is dedicated to their music. The gritty, successful garage-band-style hits gave each band a permanent place in rock history.

But after the groups have made millions of dollars, with dozens of articles and books written about them, celebrating The Tour 2012: KISS and Mötley Crüe (7 p.m. Saturday at Klipsch Music Center in Noblesville) by spitting out a biography did not seem satisfactory.

Instead, I talked to three fans from three locations and three generations who shared memories of how the outrageous acts affected their lives:

Austin Smith, 23,of Lafayette

Bassist for local bands Narrow House and Moutain Grave

Played a cover of Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart” at Jerilee’s Pub

“When you throw on a KISS or Mötley Crüe record, you know you’re going to have a good time. Put it on in the background, rock out, get wasted and pretend it’s the ’80s,” Smith said.

Motley Crue (Photo Provided)

Motley Crue (Photo Provided)

“KISS and Crüe were also the shock rockers because no one had ever taken it to that level. Crüe sporting codpieces and KISS painting their faces like demons, it’s no wonder a few were freaked out. It was something generations of bands would mimic for years to follow.”

Jayan Singh, 37, of Huntington Beach, Calif.

Saw The Tour 2012: KISS and Mötley Crüe in Calif.

“I have four brothers and we all listen to glam rock religiously. As soon as my older brother could drive, KISS and Crüe were played on the cassette on the way to school. No mixed tape that was made lacked a KISS or Crüe song,” Singh said.

“As we got older, especially into our teens, some distance began to develop between us as we each tried to find our way in the world and our parents fought a good deal. No matter what was going on in our heads, or our house, there were the car rides where at any given moment we’d all likely be head banging and belting out classic Crüe such as ‘Kick Start My Heart’ or KISS’ ‘Detroit Rock City’ or ‘Heavens on Fire.’ If you were lucky you might have caught a four person rendition of the KISS ballad ‘Beth.”

“I have probably listened to Mötley Crüe and KISS every day for 25 years and my brothers and I are bonded through the music. We were just on vacation at the lake house rental when ‘Wild Side’ came on and instantly threw up the sign of the devil and commenced with our best Vince Neil,” Singh said.

“In an instant, an educated, articulate discussion about national politics had been transformed into being in the front row at a Motley Crüe show next to four crazy dudes you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley.”

Our cousin-in-law could only stare with a combination of fear, envy and bewilderment.”

My dad, Russ Mattice, 62, of Wausaukee, Wis.

Saw KISS in the beginning

“My date and I took the two hour drive to see KISS during the “Alive!” tour in February 1976 at the Dane County Coliseum. I didn’t know much about them as a group, but I listened to their songs and knew they were popular,” Mattice said.

“The place was packed and they had lots of smoke and makeup. It was sensational and above all, rockin’. I had only been to a few concerts before that so this one was quite memorable.”

To get tickets for the KISS and Mötley Crüe show, visit To get any classic Crüe or KISS albums, or the latest records from the glam metal bands, visit iTunes. To share your memories of KISS or Mötley Crüe, email

Mattice is a producer and music journalist for the Journal & Courier. She can be reached on Twitter @RachaelM_JC. 

Posted in: "Rock It" Column