BOOK REVIEW: KISStory

Part 33 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!  By 1995, Kiss merchandising was in full gear.  This was its flagship release.

KISStory, Jeff Kitts, 1995 ($149.99 in 1995, currently $320.70 new/$263.24 used, on Amazon, in CAD)

I got KISStory back when it came out, in early 1995 or so.  I ordered it (or, rather, my mom ordered it for me since she had the credit card in the house) back in July of 1994.   When it arrived, it took me a couple weeks to go through all the content.

Early pressings were all signed by Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick, Paul Stanley, and Gene Simmons. The second pressing was signed by the original band. Personally I am happy with my copy, as I love the Revenge lineup of the band, which was much shorter lived than the original. As a side note, according to the Firehouse fanzine, Bill Aucoin (ex Kiss-manager) stated that a good number of the copies signed by the original band are actually autopen.  For that reason I’m glad I have the Revenge lineup, which was contemporary to the release of the book.

Also, early pressings had a lot of binding issues. Be careful. A friend of mine had his copy of KISStory repaired professionally because his binding fell apart. I have been very, very careful with my book and in the 15 years since, the binding is still OK.  But I treat this thing with kid gloves, people.

Each book is numbered and comes in a black case. The book is massive. Absolutely huge. It’s always funny when the advertizing for a book states that it weighs over 8 lbs.

Content wise, it is rich but flawed. There are numerous errors in the book. For example, the book states that five new songs were released on Kiss Killers. Well, we all know it was four new songs. The timeline is a bit mixed up at times, and the 80’s are not covered in enough depth.  But let’s face it, you don’t buy a book like this for text.  You buy it for the pictures.  Text is kind of like…a bonus track.  The best text is probably in old newspaper articles and concert reviews contained inside anyway.

Where the book succeeds, it succeeds like no other. However you have to remember, when this came out this was the only authorized Kiss book. Now there are lots, and much cheaper. At the time though, some of these photographs had never seen the light of day before. Newspaper articles, reviews, magazine covers, it’s all here, in massive quantities.

I think my personal favourite things were sketches of costumes and basses out of Gene’s personal sketchbook. Also, early lyrics for songs released and unreleased. There are costume sketches for outfits never made. There are drawings for stage shows that never saw the light of day. Everything you can imagine.

Yes, the price tag is hefty. However, if I sold my copy of KISStory today, I’d make a good profit. This is an investment as much as a book, but I think you’ll want to hang onto yours.

4/5 stars.

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