© 1976, Casablanca Records; © 1997, KISS Catalog Ltd.
Detroit Rock City
Paul Stanley, Bob Ezrin
This song was lyrically inspired by a real-life event where a KISS fan was killed on his way to a KISS concert in Charlotte, NC during the "Dressed To Kill" tour in April 1975. It's interesting that a song celebrating KISS' Detroit connection is based on a sad event in North Carolina! According to Paul, "We were headlining in Detroit when we were barely known anywhere else. I wrote 'Detroit Rock City' as a tribute to a city that, historically, has championed real rock 'n roll" (KISS Exciter, 3/93).
"Detroit Rock City" was almost a rewriting of earlier material, combining elements of "Two Timer" and some of the basic song structure of the "Much Too Young" part of "Acrobat." Bob Ezrin was also responsible for other aspects of "Detroit Rock City," as well as the creative introduction, including the creation of the "story" of the introduction. According to Bob, he wrote the script for the newscast and read it rather than Gene, as has long been believed. He also created the other sound effects for the song.
For the car, Bob walked from the Record Plant studio with microphones recording the sounds of him opening the door, starting the engine of a studio employee's car parked on 44th Street, and playing with the stick shift. Additionally, he used a low-power transmitter to broadcast "Rock And Roll All Nite" from the studio to the car (KISS Online w/ Bob Ezrin). This successful version was one of several tried out to add an interesting cinematic introduction to the song.
According to Bob, "I was so proud of it. It was a perfect little bit of audio story telling" (KISS Online w/ Bob Ezrin). Gene commented that his bass playing on the track was very untypical of his basic meat-and-potatoes style, taking more of the elements from R&B influences rather than rock. Bob also wrote the guitar solo for Ace to play, and stylistically it was more calculated than the usual sort of Ace solo.
Peter also had to come up with something special for the song and the rest of the album. He methodically designed every part of his drumming. He considers it to be his most unique and "brilliant" drumming, an approach that he would sadly not repeat on future albums. Bob played piano on the recording, shadowing the guitar for effect.
"Detroit Rock City" was the third single released in support of the album in early August 1976. It bombed, failing to chart on the Billboard singles charts. It did manage two weeks on the Cashbox charts, reaching a high position of 87. The single also charted in Germany, reaching #14 on those national charts. For more on this single's saga, refer to the "Beth" song entry.