This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010, as well as, the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their lists, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. “RS: Song XXX” means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #118: Rock n’ Roll All Nite” by KISS.
In a world filled with all sorts of different types of musicians and bands, KISS have carved out a reputation for themselves as being one of the world’s greatest “party” bands. Along with other bands such as AC/DC, KISS fans go to a KISS show knowing that they are in for a good time. The band takes great pride in putting on the best show possible and in being the very best music entertainers in the business. The classic KISS lineup consisted of Paul Stanley (lead singer), Gene Simmons (bass), Ace Frehley (lead guitar) and Peter Criss (drums). Over the course of a career that has spanned almost fifty years, KISS has sold over 100 million albums. They have had numerous hit songs such as “Shout It Out Loud”, “Love Gun”, “Beth” and the subject of today’s post, “Rock n’ Roll All Nite”. KISS was inducted to The Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, as well. As much a brand as they are a band, fans can join “The KISS Army” and enjoy an insider’s look at the life of the band and, when they die, they can be buried in a KISS coffin! I kid you not. But, regardless of how beloved they have become, it would never have happened if not for a song that became their anthem. That song was “Rock n’ Roll All Nite”. Here is the story of the song that made KISS into one of the world’s greatest party bands.
LIke many bands, KISS came scuffling out of the gates to start their careers. Their first few albums achieved only modest success, at best. Their big break came in a funny way, though. Their record label, Casablanca Records, was experiencing financial difficulties in the mid-1970s and needed an infusion of cash that would come with a few hits songs on their roster. So, they pulled KISS off of the road, mid-tour, and demanded that they immediately begin work on a new album. Not only that but, Casablanca accused KISS of lacking an identity and stated that one of the songs on this new album needed to be an anthem or a manifesto, of sorts. That manifesto turned out to be a song called, “Rock n’ Roll All Nite”.
A song such as “Rock n’ Roll All NIte” seems to promote an image of a band that lives the Rock n’ Roll lifestyle of “Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll”. But, when asked about the message behind a song like “Rock n’ Roll All Nite”, the band responded by saying that it was a song about living life to its’ fullest and having absolutely no regrets about any of the choices you make. Both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have gone to great lengths to proclaim that KISS is, actually, a “clean” band and that abstaining from vice is one of the secrets to their long-term success as a band. This flies in the face of their on-stage image and, as such, I would normally take such statements with a grain of salt. However, I actually follow Paul Stanley on Twitter and I have to admit that he comes across as a pretty stand-up guy. He is always posting photos of healthy meals he has cooked or of things he is doing with his family or of the many paintings he has created as a creative outlet when not touring, Gene Simmons was a teacher at one point pre-KISS and has been known to talk about how his own family was impacted by events such as The Holocaust. In both cases, when the face paint is washed away, what is revealed are two friends and businessmen who have established an entertainment partnership that has thrived on their dedication to being professional entertainers. No one confuses KISS with being musical innovators but, those guys sure know how to put on a great show and fans really appreciate that.
“Rock n’ Roll All Nite” was not a hit when it was released on that new studio album demanded by Casablanca Record executives. It barely cracked the Top 100 and dropped out very quickly. What saved Casablanca Records and what, eventually, came to define KISS was the last-ditch decision to record the band live in concert. So, one night, at Cobo Hall in Detroit, KISS was recorded live on an album called, “KISS: Alive!”. A live version of “Rock n’ Roll All Nite” closed the show and captured the imagination of listeners. That live version of the song became the first Top 20 hit for KISS and helped them start down the road to becoming the legendary band that they are today.
So, in order to see what all the fuss is about, here is KISS live, with the song that sarted it all for them, “Rock n’ Roll All Nite”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Rock n’ Roll All Nite” by KISS, can be found here.
The link to the official website for KISS, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.