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50 years of Kiss: A lookback as the metal band performs for the last time

Fifty years ago, four young New Yorkers dragged their guitars, amps and drums to a loft on 23rd Street in New York in the United States, dreaming of becoming the biggest band in the world.

This weekend, Kiss, the band started by those four – albeit with two different members currently in the fold – will say its goodbyes about 10 blocks north of that loft in the city. Kiss will play at Madison Square Garden, having become if not the biggest band in the world, certainly one of the biggest, and one that’s redefined expectations for the live concert experience.

Here is a lookback at major events in Kiss’ history, taken from Associated Press interviews with Kiss members, quotes they gave to other media and material from band members’ autobiographies:

1977: The band releases Love Gun and a second live album, Alive II. The Gallup Poll names Kiss the most popular band in America. The band plays Madison Square Garden for the first time.

1978: In a move unheard of in the music industry, the four members released solo albums simultaneously, each selling over a million copies. But Frehley’s is the only one to spawn a hit, with New York Groove. NBC airs a two-hour TV movie starring the band, Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park.

Kiss flooded the globe with band-themed merchandise far beyond the usual T-shirts and posters, including lunchboxes, vitamins, transistor radios, trading cards, and pinball machines. Later offerings include Kiss Kondoms and Kiss Kaskets.

1983: Deciding it’s time to forsake the trademark makeup, Kiss reveals what they actually look like on an MTV special, timed to the release of the Lick It Up album. They remained without makeup until a 1996 reunion tour with the original members.

1984-1990: Kiss releases the albums Animalize, Asylum, Crazy Nights and Hot In The Shade as MTV embraces their new look. Guitarist Mark St. John replaces Vincent in 1984, but a painful nerve condition in his hands soon renders him unable to continue. He is replaced by Bruce Kulick.

1991: Carr dies of heart cancer.

1992: Eric Singer, a well-respected drummer for Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Badlands and Lita Ford, is hired, having toured with Paul Stanley’s solo band in 1989. The band released Revenge and recorded the album Alive III on that tour.

1995: The lineup – Stanley, Simmons, Kulick and Singer – is joined by Frehley and Criss during the taping of an MTV Unplugged show, telegraphing an upcoming reunion.

1996-1997: Carnival Of Souls, a grunge-inspired album that had leaked and was already widely bootlegged, is officially released. The original members of Kiss reunite for what would become the top-grossing tour of the year.

1998: The reunited Kiss releases Psycho Circus.

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