Excerpt from And Party Every Day: The Inside Story of Casablanca Records:
In early December 1973, I invited KISS to join me on a trip to Philadelphia to see The Who perform at The Spectrum, a big sports arena. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, and I piled into a Mercedes leased by Jerry Sharell, who had just left Buddah to work as VP of promotion at Elektra Records in LA. Jerry had given me the use of his car when he took the job, and it was quite a step up from my twoseat Opel. The band and I started to get to know each other during the ride from Manhattan to Philly, and it soon became apparent that Gene was the KISS spokesman. I also felt that the other members of the group had been told beforehand to be on their best behavior and say as little as possible. We spent most of the ride without talking much; I could usually carry on long, rambling conversations with anyone, but these guys were so tight-lipped that at times I felt like I was in the car by myself. We arrived at the sold-out twenty-thousand-seat arena and were met by the promoter of the gig, my soon-to-be good friend Larry Magid, who was, and still is, the major promoter of live concerts in the market. We were ushered upstairs to a VIP area to watch the show.
The members of KISS were knocked out by The Who’s performance, as was everyone else in the arena, and on the ride back to New York they did not stop talking about it. Finally, some conversation! I had beendreading the ride home, figuring it would be a repeat of the awkward two hours of silence on the way down, but I was happily surprised. KISS agreed to break guitars onstage (mimicking The Who’s PeteTownshend) if I could find a way for them to afford it. I arranged a deal with the Gibson Guitar Corporation, which would supply the instruments if we would feature the company’s name and logo on KISS’s album covers as well as in the band’s trade and consumer print advertising. We also discussed how we could make Peter Criss’s drum set a centerpiece of the show without actually destroying it, the way The Who did. Though he was no Keith Moon, I always thought Peter was a very solid drummer, and everyone agreed that more attention needed to be paid to him. Shortly thereafter, KISS’s live production began to include a levitating drum riser: Peter would rise up behind the band in a massive bombardment of smoke and explosions.
A week or so later, Neil and I took the band to several magic shops around New York City to get ideas for KISS’s stage show. None of us really had any idea of what we were looking for. Neil was fascinated by the stuff on display, and he kept pointing to things or picking them up and saying, “Larry, come over here and look at this!” One thing that particularly caught his eye was flash paper. Magicians use it all the time to create little fireballs from the palms of their hands. Neil fell in love with the stuff, and for the next year he used it at any meetings involving KISS. We’d be meeting with the Warner people, DJs, promo men, or rack jobbers—any audience, really—and he would suddenly say, “KISS is magic!” and unleash a burst of flash-paper flame. It never failed to impress. He did it so often that I started to predict it—“Oh no, here we go again.” Once you’d seen the man behind the curtain a dozen times, the trick lost a lot of its gee-whiz factor. KISS incorporated a couple of flash-paper effects into their shows for the next year, then they moved on to bigger, more impressive displays.