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No. 26: Kiss, ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’ – Top 100 Classic Rock Songs

Hard-core Kiss fans may scoff a little bit at the decision to represent their facepainted heroes on our Top 100 Classic Rock Songs list with the relatively populist track ‘Rock and Roll All Nite.’

After all, this undeniably catchy number isn’t as substantial, heavy or complex as songs like ‘Black Diamond,’ ‘100,000 Years’ or ‘Watchin’ You.’ Those classic tracks helped established the band’s sonic template, which blended the Rolling Stones‘ ballsy grit with a surprising dose of Beatles tunefulness, then cranked up the volume.

Three albums following this formula — released in a dizzying 13-month blitz — combined with a grueling tour schedule that helped perfect a flashy and literally explosive stage show had earned the band a devoted following among hard rock fans, and reputation as a band you did not want opening for you. What it did not do, however, was sell very many records.

Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart figured out what was missing as the band assembled their third album, 1975’s ‘Dressed to Kill.’ Paul Stanley explains in the band’s official biography, ‘Behind the Mask‘: “At that time, rock bands didn’t have anthems. “But Neil was real smart and really ahead of his time, and he said, ‘Sly and the Family Stone had “Stand” and “I Want to Take You Higher.” So he said, ‘You guys really should have an anthem.'”

Stanley and bassist Gene Simmons put together parts of two songs each had been working on, the latter providing the verses and the former delivering one of rock’s most universally appealing and memorable choruses.

“We knew it was gonna be an anthem,” Ace Frehley reveals in the book, “I knew it was gonna be something special. The song says it all.” Despite the band’s immediate pleasure, the studio version of ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’ also failed to make a dent on the charts.

With both band and label at the end of their financial ropes, they decided to throw a last-ditch “Hail Mary” six short months later by releasing the double-live album ‘Alive!.’ Freed from the constrictions of their underfed studio versions and supercharged by the band’s live delivery, Kiss’s songs connected with a massive new audience, and a newly released concert version of ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’ led the charge.

The rest, you probably know. The tune’s “I wanna rock and roll all nite / And party every day” chorus became not just an anthem but an enduring cultural touchstone, and the song remains the soundtrack for the confetti-and-explosion-filled climaxes of the band’s concerts.

Next: We Rise by Falling

Skip to: No. 100 | No. 80 | No. 60 | No. 40 | No. 20

Watch Kiss Perform ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’

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