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KISS: Behind the Mask - The Official Authorized Biography Paperback – June 2, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With its combination of cartoonish monster-movie makeup and oversized costumes, ear-splitting amplification and gleeful songs in praise of sex, heavy metal rock legend Kiss has never been accused of not being excessive, and this book is a great example of why it is still a multimillion-dollar profit-making machine. While this book covers much of the same biographical territory as Gene Simmons's Kiss and Make-Up and Kisstory (the band's self-published 440-page coffee-table-sized tome), the authorized bio presents more than enough new material to make it essential for hardcore fans. Much of the book's first half presents a previously unpublished work based on the only in-depth interviews the band gave in 1980. The result is a remarkably humanizing look behind the heavy metal tomfoolery, with Simmons more honestly discussing his Jewish upbringing than he does in his autobiography, and the rest of the band disarmingly admitting to borrowing from the glam-rocker New York Dolls as well as the Harlem Globetrotters. The book's second half, however, is the true highlight for Kiss fans: a comprehensive look at all of the Kiss albums ever made. Among the surprises is the praise of noted producer Eddie Kramer, a close associate of Jimi Hendrix, for the band's no-nonsense work ethic. Of note are Kiss's hilariously guileless quotes, such as the admission that another producer "made a point of trying to get us to stop writing songs about getting laid, which was valid. But he needed to understand that's all we ever did."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Although dedicated rock readers familiar with previous KISS tell-alls--most notably, tongue-man Gene Simmons' Kiss and Make-Up (2001)--may question whether there is much behind the band's kabuki-ish make-up besides being an ace gimmick, this slobbering devotional is worthwhile. For one thing, it packs all the major elements of Kisstory into one breezy package. For another, the PowerPoint-ish organization of the text facilitates easy reading. Sure, Leaf and Sharp find incredible depth and talent where others might miss it (they particularly adore the platform-booted anthem, "Rock and Roll All Nite"), but they state right up front, "nonbelievers--this book isn't for them." There are enough believers--members of the "KISS Army"--to make this surefire bait for the elusive testosterone-infused demographic. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (June 2, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446695246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446695244
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #489,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What makes this book a must-get for Kiss fans is the first section. During this segment, a never-before-released text from 1979 reveals an incredible amount of commaraderie and friendship among the members of Kiss, even during their most difficult era. It actually illustrates the sweeter side of the band and how much they genuinely cared for one another as individuals. It was also refreshing to be able to read quotes from Gene Simmons that were not practiced hype intended to promote the Cult of Simmons to the market. This first segment was written before Gene became GENE SIMMONS INC. and is a poignant snapshot of what the man - hopefully - is really like. But also, the vulnerability of a young Paul Stanley, the wit, charm and intelligence of a young Ace Frehley and the sentimentality of a young Peter Criss shine in the opening of the book.
To their credit, the band,in authorizing this bio, have allowed the inclusion of a number of credible sources from outside the realm of the band's influence that add an authenticity to the book. The quotes and stories from Bill Aucoin, Sean Delaney, Joyce Bogart, Bob Kulick and others dispute many myths surrounding the band and help clarify many hazy aspects of the band's history. It is clear that Kiss is not the House That Simmons Built. Rather, it was - and has always been - a group effort, culling from the talents of dozens of people at a time.
The second section has the band members and various insiders quoting on thoughts about almost every Kiss song and album recorded. I say almost because many details about Peter Criss' and Ace Frehley's 1978 solo albums were excluded - from the onset, a minor flaw, but one that becomes a tragic omission when bearing in mind that every song from "Hot in the Shade" is covered.
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Format: Hardcover
Where do I even begin to start in my review of this book? This is my first venture into reviewing books so bare with me.
Kiss - Behind The Mask is simply the be all, end all of books out on the market talking about the real history of the band. This isn't KISSTORY where Paul And Gene are the ones basically telling you their side of the story. This book has some of the best quotes ever seen in a KISS book. Put it this way, the small entry in part 2 of the book about Bob Kulicks recording experience with Paul and Gene on KILLERS had me laughing and clamoring for more info.
The book is broken into two parts. The first part, an unreleased piece done by David Leaf circa 1979. It's not explained as to why this wasn't released in 1980 but after reading it I can tell why this wasn't released to the public back then. This would've damaged KISS at a time where they were basically marketing themselves to a younger audience. The Quotes about the band by great bands such as THE WHO, THE RAMONES, THE REPLACEMENTS and OZZY were very cool additions to a book that was a classic upon page 1 being read. Someone mentioned Gene Simmons's quotes not being contrived and planned out diatribes and this is very true indeed. Peter Criss is let loose in this portion of the book as well as Ace. The background stories of the original 4 band members from this perspective is the best pre-KISSTORY document I've ever read. It's more interesting coming from the original band members themselves rather than from some ghost author attempting to tell their stories. It's nice to see Gene Simmons And Paul Stanley shown in a completely different light than what we're used to seeing lately. Thankfully, Ken Sharp convinced David Leaf to unearth this Gem because KISS fans finally get what they've wanted for a long time.
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Format: Hardcover
The key factor of the success of this book is that the first half was written in 1979. KISS was the biggest band on the planet, had peaked in their popularity, and was just about to start a tremendous career slump. The manuscript lay dormant fro a few decades until renewed interest sparked it's release.
The second half of the book consists of edited comments from band members, producers and sundry musicians, regarding all of their albums, songs and career choices. This half is fairly dry and clinical, but for those of you unfamiliar with their later phases, indispensible.
Let me return to the first portion of the book. What struck me was the singlemindedness displayed by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons from day ONE.
These guys had a plan and despite all odds, took themselves to the top. They were driven. I found their biographies to be fascinating...how they got be who they are.
I was the perfect age to be a KISS fan in the seventies. I loved comics. I was in junior high. My father took me to the L.A. concert that was recorded for "Alive II"
I still have the "I Was There" button.
I am the person this book was written for.
Having said that, I loved following the development of their "act".
Wanting only to "rock". Wanting only to entertain. Wanting to do something that no one had ever seen. I was impressed by their dedication to the concept of KISS.
I was also impressed by their candid comments. When they screw up, they're the first to speak up. When they got a bit too full of themselves, they tell you exactly when that happened.
The tensions between the two "factions" within the group, Paul/Gene vs.
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