Feature image courtesy of Getty Images/KISSonline
By Dylan Peggin
You know how there’s the term “Christmas in July?” This is more like “KISSmas in July.” More unseen footage of the hottest band in the world is surfacing and we are all raving and drooling over what is being seen.
On July 6th, the full uncut promo masters for “I Want You,” “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” and “Hard Luck Woman” were uploaded to YouTube. This footage was filmed during the Rock and Roll Over Tour rehearsals that were held at the Camp Curtis Guild Armory in Reading, Massachusetts in November 1976. As you could tell in the black-and-white tour rehearsal footage, the band did several run-throughs of lip-synching these songs to perhaps get the arrangements right for the cameras. Most people know this footage for being featured on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert in May 1977 and it is that specific TV appearance that also appears on the KISSOLOGY Vol. 1 DVD. They were also used as promo films internationally outside of the US.
While it is familiar territory, what we have here is more than likely the original footage that the DKRC production team had to work with since KISS did not perform live. You can see the EUE/Screen Gems title cards before the start of each song and it shows a date of January 26, 1977, which is more than likely when the respective production team made the final edits. This footage is no shocking new discovery but it is cool to see these promo films in their earliest iteration.
It looks like we now have another name/entity to add to the mixture. This footage was not uploaded by Sam Loomis or Rue Morgue Records, but instead by an individual by the name of Anthony Alexander. Is this another one of the top bidding collectors that got their hands on this material?
On July 7th, Sam Loomis had a crack at uploading the Budokan 3 pm show that had been seen by Rue Morgue but had since been taken down. Let it be noted that this upload is superior to what had been prior because this upload features the encores. It looks like this circle of collectors has their hand in the same footage that’s been making the rounds.
Setlist: Detroit Rock City/Take Me/Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll/Ladies Room/Firehouse/Makin’ Love/I Want You/Cold Gin/Do You Love Me/Nothin’ to Lose/God of Thunder/Rock & Roll All Nite/Shout It Out Loud/Beth/Black Diamond
If you’re a fan of the Destroyer tour, get a load of this!
One of the two Destroyer Tour pro-shots that was uploaded was Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California on August 20, 1976. This is a show that is relatively well known to KISS fans. The audience recording of this show was the basis of one of the earliest KISS bootlegs called “KISS Destroys Anaheim” and a soundboard recording circulates as well. Most fans are familiar with the video footage of the close-up angles projected on the jumbo video screens on the side of the stage. A wide-angle video also circulated of just “Black Diamond.” For the first time ever, the entire show seen through the wide-angle is now available at our disposal.
Given the nature of the Destroyer stage, seeing the show through this angle makes you appreciate the architecture more with the various close-up shots. You can also see Gene spit blood on his own bloody steak platform, which adds a sense of theatricality before he would go on to fly up the lighting truss years later. While the “Black Diamond” clip has been seen before, it’s still astounding to see such a climactic finish to the show with the fireworks display, the lit-up city skyline, Christmas lights around the stage, and bombs ablaze.
Setlist: Detroit Rock City/King of the Night Time World/Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll/Strutter/Hotter Than Hell/Nothin’ to Lose/Cold Gin/Shout It Out Loud/Do You Love Me/God of Thunder/Rock and Roll All Nite/Deuce/Firehouse/Black Diamond
The other Destroyer pro-shot that was uploaded was The Summit in Houston, Texas on August 13, 1976. This is another familiar show that has been circulating in the bootleg circles for a number of years albeit in poor quality and incomplete. Another rendering of the show circulated in recent years but with a time code at the bottom of the screen. For the first time ever, the uncut show is in our hands and in quality that is light years better than what has been seen before. The soundboard mix of this show is absolutely heavenly to the ears! To provide a bit of atmosphere of the times, the first thirty minutes are devoted to shots of the crows taking delight in seeing themselves on camera since this footage was more than likely projected on screens at the venue.
This is almost like seeing the movie Dazed and Confused but in the context of the actual time frame, which the film takes place. As The Rolling Stones are blasted through the PA system, concertgoers are waving and taking in the excitement of the show that is bound to begin while announcements are made to dispel the raucousness that’s going on in the first couple of rows. House lights hit and the band takes the stage in full force. It is a crime that this footage was not seen on KISSOLOGY because while Anaheim has its own leverage, this is perhaps the definitive footage from the Destroyer tour.
Setlist: Detroit Rock City/King of the Night Time World/Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll/Strutter/Hotter Than Hell/Shout It Out Loud/Cold Gin/Nothin’ to Lose/Do You Love Me/God of Thunder/Rock and Roll All Nite/Deuce/Firehouse/Black Diamond
Just to turn the dial back a bit, we are then transported back to Detroit for a pro-shot of the band’s performance at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan on January 27, 1976, during the Alive! Tour! The three consecutive nights of Cobo footage from ‘76 is relatively well known and all of it has circulated to various degrees. The show from the 25th was available as a bonus disc in KISSOLOGY Vol. 1 exclusive to Best Buy retailers sans the encores. The show from the 26th was a feature presentation in KISSOLOGY Vol. 1. This show from the 27th appears in pieces on the KISS My Ass video but the show as a whole doesn’t widely circulate as much as the previous two. For a while, what had circulated was the show sans the encores. For the first time ever, the encores are seen here.
Setlist: Deuce/Strutter/C’mon and Love Me/Hotter Than Hell/Firehouse/She/Parasite/Nothin’ to Lose/100,000 Years/Black Diamond/Cold Gin/Rock and Roll All Nite/Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
Does anyone else find it odd that these dumps are being done by individuals that have aliases of characters from the Halloween franchise? Let’s start with the obvious: Dr. Sam Loomis is a character portrayed by actor Donald Pleasance in the original 1978 film. In the description of the 3 pm Tokyo footage uploaded by Sam, also credits a “Lori Strode.” Lori Strode is the protagonist of the film portrayed by Jamie Lynn Curtis. Just something worth pointing out and perhaps it will all make sense in the end.
I had an opportunity to speak with Three Sides of the Coin co-host Mark Ciccihini over the phone one morning recently. It was such an insightful conversation given how nice, genuine and honest he is. It was as if I was getting a chance to talk to one of my own: a complete, total KISS geek! He gave me some further backstory about all this footage that we fans have been feasting our eyes on. Based on what he was able to share with me, the genesis of all of this dates back to when A&E was assembling the KISStory documentary.
Many parties contributed footage to the documentary, such as Universal Music Group, KISS Catalog, and Gene and Paul individually just to name a few. In the summer of 2021, the footage was allegedly stolen at the time of the A&E documentary and was being sold to top-paying collectors. While pieces were slowly leaking at the time, the bucket was poured during May of this year when pieces were making the rounds that were sold to these collectors. Mark also mentioned the concept of a group of people chipping in to get their hands on a piece of footage. This immediately echoed what I had mentioned in my first article covering this story from my other anonymous-yet-reliable source. Perhaps this is why it’s not just one YouTube channel that’s uploading this content.
Mark also provided some clarification to perhaps the most notable piece of footage that has been uploaded. The audio from the footage of Cobo Hall 1975 is from a bootleg of an audience recording taken from the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California on May 31, 1975, during the Dressed to Kill Tour. Upon viewing the footage again, I can see some places where this makes total sense. There are a few frames that focus on Ace’s fretwork and it doesn’t quite match what is being played audio-wise. It also doesn’t make sense that the band performs the studio arrangement of “Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll” when usually they perform the extended live arrangement. This confirms that the footage from Cobo Hall is indeed silent and since the Long Beach show occurred two weeks after Detroit, it was meticulously edited and synched up to the video. Let’s be real here: since the show was recorded for Alive! and the original multi-tracks are supposed to still exist, that still doesn’t rule out an opportunity for the show to be remixed via stereo or surround sound and synced to the video, thus giving us a true representation of KISS at Cobo Hall laying down the foundation of their future fortunes.
Now it’s time to get all of you at the edge of your seat. When Mark and I talked, all that had been uploaded was Largo ‘75, Detroit ‘75, the ‘76 rehearsals, and Tokyo ‘77. According to Mark, what has been seen so far is about 3-5% of what is to be seen and will cover the 1970s all the way up through Psycho Circus. All us fans can do, and believe me we all are, is to keep watching.