The Rock Band KISS and American Dream Ideology

Kieran James, Susan P. Briggs, Bligh Grant

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This article is a collective effort on the authors’ part to remember KISS, one of the most important hard-rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s. Influenced by the glam-rock movement which preceded its rise, arguably KISS was the first major act in rock music history to present rock music as Entertainment Product firstly and music only secondarily. We discuss the original, democratic concept of the Fab Four - Gene, Paul, Ace, and Peter - as well as Gene Simmons’ and Paul Stanley’s subsequent American Dream ideology. We go on to analyse the current version of the band in the light of the original line-up and appearance. The data we use in this study is based on extensive systematic study of the customer reviews of KISS albums on plus all of the known published books written about KISS and books by current and former KISS members. We find that the KISS fan base is divided with some fans accepting Simmons’ current view that the four personas can be utilized by anyone chosen by the band’s leadership; a second group which tries to correct the alleged historical injustices committed against Frehley and Criss; and a third group which is cynical about the current version of KISS but finds it fruitless to rehash old debates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-37
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of American Culture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • American culture
  • New York City
  • KISS
  • Marxism
  • Ideology
  • Heavy-metal music
  • American Dream


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