Kiss (often styled as KISS) is an American hard rock band formed in New York City in January 1973 by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Well known for its members' face paint and stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid-to-late 1970s with their elaborate live performances--which featured fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and pyrotechnics. The band has gone through multiple lineup changes, with Stanley and Simmons the only remaining original members. Counting the 1978 solo albums, Kiss has been awarded 30 gold albums to date, the most of any American band.[http://www.riaa.com/goldandplatinumdata.php?table=tblArtTal "Artist Tallies"]. Billboard. Retrieved October 28, 2007. The band has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States, of which 25 million have been certified by the RIAA and their worldwide sales exceed 100 million records, making them one of the world's best-selling bands of all time. The original and arguably best-known lineup consisted of Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar), Simmons (vocals and bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar and vocals) and Peter Criss (drums and vocals).
With their make-up and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style characters: The Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), The Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley) and The Catman (Criss). Stanley became the "Starchild" because of his tendency to be referred to as a "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic." The "Demon" make-up reflected Simmons' cynicism and dark sense of humor, as well as his affection for comic books. Frehley's "Spaceman" make-up was a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and his supposedly being from another planet. Criss' "Catman" make-up was in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives, because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn. Due to creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were out of the group by 1982. The band's commercial fortunes had waned considerably by that point.
Buoyed by a wave of Kiss nostalgia in the 1990s, the band announced a reunion of the original lineup in 1996. The resulting Kiss Alive/Worldwide/Reunion Tour was the top-grossing act of 1996 and 1997. Criss and Frehley have both since left the band again and have been replaced by Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, respectively. Kiss has been named in many "Top" lists. These include Number 10 on VH1's '100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock', 9th on 'The Greatest Metal Bands' list by MTV, number one on Hit Paraders's "Top 100 Live Bands", 56th on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists Of All Time", and 26th on Gibson's "50 Greatest American Rock Bands". On April 10, 2014, Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.