Over late-night whiskey in the garage, bassist, Jack Fury told me a story … a legend really, that had been passed throughout the music industry for years. As I listened, I thought that it couldn’t be true. Maybe is was the booze, but still his words haunted me …
The year was 1970. Just months after winning a Grammy Award for Mrs. Robinson, “the Voices of America,” Simon and Garfunkel broke up. Feeling the need to diversify musically, Arthur Ira Garfunkel returned to Queens, New York and began writing. After a series of frustrating starts and stops he encountered eighteen-year old local guitarist, Paul Stanley. Stanley, just ousted from the band Wicked Lester due to a minor argument with childhood friend and bass player, Gene Simmons, over marketing, was eager to collaborate with the notable Garfunkel.
By 1972, they duo had enough songs and direction to begin touring, however Garfunkel, not wanting to alienate his considerable fan base or compete with Stanley’s youthful looks, suggested they perform in Kabuki-style make-up. Stanley and the band agreed. Stage show pioneer Kiss had been born, and for nearly a decade all was right with the world.
Shortly after their Tenth Anniversary Tour, a growing sentiment for Kiss to appear publicly without make-up rose from the fans. Garfunkel, still maintaining a moderately successful solo career panicked. He wanted to dissolve Kiss but retain his friends as his folksy back-up band. The others reluctantly agreed, but Stanley refused, insisting that Kiss, make-up or not, was a good idea, if only they could get around Garfunkel’s need for a dual identity.
(Cue Odd Couple music.) On November 13th, Paul Stanley was asked to remove himself from his place in Kiss. That request came from the band. Deep down he knew they were right, but he also knew that some day he would return to them. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend Gene Simmons. Several years earlier, Simmons’s band had thrown him out, requesting that he never return. Could two strong willed musicians share a band without driving each other crazy? (End music.)
Simmons, a publicity genius, but never a strong bass player, was the one who suggested the solution. He would be the bawdy, public, unmasked face of the Kiss Demon bassist, allowing Garfunkel to continue making the sweet, sweet music that he and the world had come to love. Garfunkel embraced the idea and Stanley. The show went on.
As it turns out though, the unmasked thing was a phase America was going through in the early ‘80’s and they boys just weren’t that good looking after all. They soon returned to the make-up. Simmons, however, comfortable in the spotlight and knowing Garfunkel’s secret, could not be liquidated. Today, he remains the public face of Kiss, selling officially licensed coffin/coolers and shoelaces to the internet. The End.