A Closer Look At Tourmates KISS And Motley Crue
By Tim McPhate
Two rock heavyweights set to collide during one hot summer tour package...
With KISS having just announced a summer tour with Mötley Crüe, what more appropriate time to take a closer look at both bands? Before you pick up your tickets for what looks to be the summer's hottest combo package, read below for the tale of the tape between these rock heavyweights...
In one corner, KISS:
Gene Simmons, bass/lead vocals, 62
Paul Stanley, rhythm guitar/lead vocals, 60
Eric Singer, drums, 53
Tommy Thayer, lead guitar, 51
In the other corner, Mötley Crüe:
Mick Mars, guitars, 60
Nikki Sixx, bass, 53
Vince Neil, lead vocals, 51
Tommy Lee, drums, 49
A Tale Of Two Coasts
KISS were formed on the streets of New York City, while Mötley Crüe emerged from the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, Calif. (Fun fact: According to Neil, the umlauts were added to the Crüe's name over a round of Löwenbräus.) Despite this geographic difference, the entertainment goal has been the same: combine high-octane rock music with a heavy dose of theatrics.
Blood, Fire & Influences
While both bands have tipped their respective cap to Alice Cooper, it was obvious that upon their arrival to the music scene, Mötley Crüe were heavily influenced by KISS. Their early look combined a combination of garish makeup, leather and studs, and shock value. The early Mötley Crüe stage show found guitarist Mars spitting blood à la Simmons. (These days, Sixx handles bloodspitting duties for the Crüe.) And while Simmons is content to breathe fire, Sixx took things to another level in setting [i]himself[/i] on fire. Lee has cited original KISS drummer Peter Criss as an influence. After hearing Criss' drum work, Lee joined the marching band at his high school.
The Debut Albums
KISS' self-titled debut album was released in 1974. "KISS" has been certified gold. Mötley Crüe released their debut, the platinum-certified "Too Fast For Love," in 1981. Both albums have figured prominently in each respective band's recent set list. At Mötley Crüe's recent concerts in Las Vegas, four songs were played from "Too Fast For Love": the title track, "Live Wire," "On With The Show," and "Piece Of Your Action." On KISS' 2011 tour, five songs from the self-titled album were played: "Cold Gin," "Deuce," "Firehouse," "100,000 Years," and "Black Diamond."
Concert Déjà Vu
KISS and Mötley Crüe are no strangers to sharing a concert bill. The Crüe opened five West Coast dates in late March/early April on KISS' 1983 tour in support of "Creatures Of The Night." Mötley Crüe would release their sophomore album, "Shout At The Devil," that September. In the midst of big change, KISS would drop their makeup and officially usher in the unmasked era with Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr with "Lick It Up," also released in September 1983. (Vincent and Sixx were rumored to have gotten together for a songwriting session in the late '80s, but nothing materialized.) With the 2012 trek, Mötley Crüe's original members will have toured with two different, "un-original" incarnations of KISS.
Call It A Coincidence
Both bands have released a song by the name of "Danger." Mötley Crüe released a song titled "Say Yeah" on their 1999 "Supersonic And Demonic Relics" album, while KISS released their own "Say Yeah" on 2009's "Sonic Boom." KISS like to call out "Dr. Love"; while Mötley brandish "Dr. Feelgood." Also, KISS prefer things "Hotter Than Hell" while the Crüe like it "Louder Than Hell" (originally titled "Hotter Than Hell!")
Album Chart History
With regard to album chart history, Mötley Crüe have eight total albums that have reached the Top 10 on the Billboard 200, with the aforementioned chart-topping "Dr. Feelgood." KISS have also notched eight Top 10 albums, their first being 1975's seminal "Alive!" KISS hold a more than 2:1 ration in terms of studio album output with 23 (including the 1978 solo albums), while Mötley Crüe have released nine studio albums to date.
The Glam Year
1985 proved to be the year of extreme glam for KISS and Mötley Crüe. The former released "Asylum" and mixed in costumes with enough glitz and color to make the "Dynasty" era look tame. Mötley released their third album, "Theatre of Pain," and altered their image from the streetwise, trashy look on "Shout At The Devil" to a more colorful, "glammy" presentation. Both bands made a minor dent on the pop charts: KISS with "Tears Are Falling" and Mötley Crüe with "Home Sweet Home."
Big Ballads To Begin The '90s
Both bands rode high with a ballad in 1990, with each song peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100: KISS with "Forever"; Mötley Crüe with"Without You." "Forever" came from the 15-song "Hot In The Shade" album, which was certified gold and reached No. 29 on the Billboard 200. "Without You" was the third single from "Dr. Feelgood," which became Mötley Crüe's only No. 1 album and their best-selling to date in selling more than 6 million units.
Just The Hits
KISS have an edge in the Top 40 hits department in scoring a total of nine during their career. The most recent KISS song to hit the Top 40 was "Forever" in 1990. Mötley Crüe have accumulated seven Top 40 hits, their most recent also coming in 1990 for "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)."
Tale Of The Sales
According to RIAA, Mötley Crüe is listed as having sold 23.5 million albums, while KISS' album tally stands at 20 million. (Note: According to a 2012 FAQ report, KISS' sales total for RIAA-certified albums stands at 24.5 million.)
Reunions And Unions
KISS reunited with all original members in 1996. Mötley Crüe played their reunion card a year later, dropping replacement vocalist John Corabi (who recorded one album with the Crüe, 1994's "Mötley Crüe") and signing back on with Neil. Of course, there's an additional tie to these reunions: Corabi later teamed with Bruce Kulick, who was set free from KISS after the reunion, to form Union. Corabi and Kulick have also teamed with current KISS drummer Eric Singer for the Eric Singer Project, aka ESP.
Aerosmith & Bit Of Poison
KISS and Mötley Crüe have each toured the United States with Aerosmith and Poison within the last decade. The Crüe and Aerosmith partnered for a U.S. tour in 2006, while KISS and Tyler, Perry & Co. teamed in 2003. KISS took out Poison for the Rock The Nation tour in 2004, while Mötley Crüe toured with Poison last year.
Latest Studio Albums
Comparing their most recent albums, KISS released "Sonic Boom" in 2009, with a follow-up, "Monster," on the way. "Sonic Boom" was KISS' highest charting album, debuting at No. 2, and sold 108,000 units in its first week. Mötley Crüe's most recent studio album is 2008's "Saints Of Los Angeles," which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of sales of 99,000 units.
Most Recent Pollstar Tour Rankings
Mötley Crüe's ranked No. 40 on Pollstar's Top North American tour list in 2011, with a total gross of $21.1 million and average attendance of 7,397 (over 51 shows). KISS ranked No. 27 on Pollstar's Top North American tour list in 2009, with a total gross of $30.5 million and average attendance of 9,549 (over 52 shows).
They Said It ...
"You know what was worse than getting thrown off the KISS tour for bad behavior? Listening to Gene Simmons talk about himself all day and all night long. Sometimes I'd just sit there and say, 'Uh-huh' and 'Right' until he was done. For all his ego and bulls*** I like Gene. But I can't like him as much as he likes himself. That would be impossible." -- Nikki Sixx, "The Heroin Diaries" (2007)
"We had played a few dates with KISS after 'Too Fast For Love,' and not only were they excruciatingly boring but Gene Simmons had kicked us off the tour for bad behavior. (Imagine my surprise 17 years later when ace businessman Gene Simmons called as I wrote this very chapter, asking not only for the film rights to 'The Dirt' but also for exclusive film rights to the story of Mötley Crüe for all eternity." -- Nikki Sixx, "The Dirt" (2001)
"His name was [Nikki Sixx], he played bass, and he seemed like an all-right guy. But then he said he listened to Aerosmith and KISS, and I can't stand KISS. I never f***ing liked them. I instantly crossed him off my list of possible people to play with." -- Mick Mars, "The Dirt" (2001)
"I was always more influenced by KISS' music and songwriting than by their performance. Their songs are chock full of hooks and great arrangements. It was the soundtrack for my generation." -- Nikki Sixx, "KISS: Behind The Mask" (2003)
"Why did we take the makeup off? We didn't want to copy Mötley Crüe." -- Gene Simmons, "Sounds" (1984)
"Tommy Lee or Tommy Thayer? Which do I prefer? For what, sex? Tommy Lee, of course! He's got that drumstick!" -- Eric Singer, "Metal Sludge 20 Questions" (2007)
Originally published: March 30, 2012