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Kiss and Sell: The Making of a Supergroup Paperback – April 1, 1997
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About the Author
C.K. Lendt was Vice President of Glickman/Marks Management, business managers for Kiss, Diana Ross and The Isley Brothers. Lendt is now an adjunct professor in both the Management Institute and Music Business & Technology program at New York University. He also teaches at Marymount Manhattan College.
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It makes "Kiss and Sell" a fascinating read. The book is not really about Kiss as much as it is about the record industry in the seventies, with Kiss as the participating players. Lendt was a green college grad starting at a tony NYC firm when he was pushed into the world of rock as Kiss's on-tour account manager. He comes on board just as the band is exploding in 1976, and is on board until the 80's and up till "Crazy Nights." There's more here about the band's spending habits than anything else, but there's also the details of decline, like Criss becoming a drug addled gun fanatic, and Frehley's boondoggle of a home studio.
There's also interesting tidbits about things like "The Elder" disaster and Gene's celebrity dating. The less than savory international promoters. The revelation that Peter and Ace long ago had their contracts bought out, but Ace's departure was kept hidden from the record company to avoid contract problems (now you know why he was on the "Creatures of the Night" album art). As the money gets tighter and the problems mount up, the ultimate derailing is interesting (and sad) to read, essentially after "Crazy Nights" the band is broke.
As a cautionary tale, "Kiss and Sell" is a good read, but as a history of Kiss, it's a bit soft. Lendt has a habit of discussing minutia that feels utterly irrelevant (OK, we get it, you like food and restaurants) and the whole Diana Ross chapter could have been dumped. But overall, a good read about the business of music.
I don't think you'd have to be a KISS fanatic to get sucked in by this look at the KISS machine. Heck, the guy who wrote it isn't even a KISS fanatic! It's a great read. A front row (sometimes) look at success through perseverance and learning by making every mistake in the book.
In fact, the reunion tours of 96 and thereafter really gave the members the financial stability that they'd lost in the late 70's.
The irony of Kiss is that without Ace and Peter they were nothing but a sinking nostalagia act. With the reunion tour and make-up back on and Ace and Peter in the band the group suddenly became interesting.
In the end, the great success of Kiss is not the bluster of Gene Simmons or posturings of Paul Stanley but the dynamic of all four members--Ace, Peter, Gene and Paul.
This book is honest and brilliant in it's review of the story of Kiss and of the music business. Buy it and enjoy the behind the scenes look at a fascinating world.