40 Years Ago: Kiss Takes Off Their Makeup for the First Time on Stage
via KISS / YouTube
There are moments that define eras and leave a lasting impact on music history. One such moment occurred on October 11, 1983, when Kiss, the legendary band known for their iconic face paint and elaborate costumes, performed their first show without their trademark makeup. This monumental change not only rejuvenated the band’s commercial success but also marked the beginning of a challenging period for Gene Simmons, one of the band’s founding members.
The historic unmasked performance took place in the unexpected location of Lisbon, Portugal.
Just three weeks prior, Kiss had unveiled their real faces on national television during a special MTV appearance, breaking the mystique that had surrounded them for years.
This shift in identity was not without its challenges, especially for Gene Simmons. The change brought forth a transformation in the band dynamics, with Paul Stanley taking on a more prominent role. Simmons reflected on this time, saying:
“For those couple of years, it became his [Stanley’s] band. Paul was always the guy who spoke in the interviews. When you saw photos of Kiss, they tended more and more to be photos of Paul.”
Simmons attempted to regain the spotlight with flamboyant and unconventional clothing choices, but it didn’t alleviate the struggles.
“My reaction was to try to muscle my way back into the spotlight by buying some truly outlandish androgynous clothing… It just made me look like a football player in a tutu,” he joked.
Despite these challenges, Kiss persevered. They continued to perform without their face paint for the next 13 years, releasing several albums and achieving notable success. The band adapted to lineup changes, with members like Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer joining the ranks.
In 1996, Kiss made a triumphant return to their iconic makeup, reuniting with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss for a highly successful world tour.
However, this reunion was not without its complexities, and Frehley and Criss would depart once again in the following years.
Kiss continued their musical journey, evolving with new members while staying true to their rock ‘n’ roll roots. Their resilience and ability to adapt have cemented their legacy in the annals of rock history, making them an enduring symbol of the genre’s power and spirit.
As we reflect on that transformative night in Lisbon 40 years ago, we celebrate Kiss not only for their musical prowess but also for their courage to redefine themselves, leaving an indelible mark on the world of music and inspiring generations of fans around the globe.