The Day Kiss Finally Removed Their Makeup
The once-unthinkable took place on Sept. 18, 1983 as Kiss finally revealed their faces.
Granted, the news wasn't as earth-shaking as it would have been if the group had come clean a few years earlier. After all, in the mid-to-late '70s, they were the hottest band in the land. Internal tensions and a series of questionable disco and pop-influenced albums subsequently crippled their commercial standing.
Original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley had also departed the group, and even the back-to-basics creative triumph of 1982's Creatures of the Night failed to reignite their career.
In his book Kiss and Make-Up, Gene Simmons reveals how the band's other remaining founding member, Paul Stanley, convinced him it was time for a big change while they were recording Lick It Up, their 11th studio album:
"'Let's prove something to the fans,' Paul said, 'Let's go and be a real band without makeup.' I reluctantly agreed. I didn't know if it was going to work, but I heard what Paul was saying – there was nowhere else for us to go. We did a photo session just to see what it would look like. We looked straight into the camera lens. We were defiant. I made one small concession to the fans: I stuck out my tongue, to try to keep something that connected us with the past."
Watch Kiss' Unmasking on MTV in 1983
Speaking of the public unveiling on MTV – which you can see above – Simmons says: "We made the best of it, but I was scared stiff."
Turns out Stanley was indeed right. "Lick It Up was released and immediately tripled the sales of Creatures of the Night," Simmons added. "It went platinum and we were soon filling up concert halls again. This was clearly a new lease on life."
The newly unmasked Kiss – and to be honest, they had been captured au natural a few times in the '70s – went on to release a series of gold and platinum albums over the next decade before reuniting with Criss, Frehley and their iconic greasepaint for hugely successful '90s-era tours.
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