KISS Announces Final Concert Dates Live on the Stern Show

“It’s everything KISS, just amped up and ramped up ... We’re giving it everything we have,” Paul Stanley says about the band's last tour

March 1, 2023

It’s truly the end of the road for one America’s most iconic rock groups.

KISS, the hard-hitting heavy metal icons who sold over 100 million albums in face paint and platform boots, joined the Stern Show on Wednesday to deliver an exclusive announcement for Howard and his listeners. The New York-based rock act— consisting of founding frontman and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, founding bassist and co-lead singer Gene Simmons, longtime drummer Eric Singer, and longtime lead guitarist Tommy Thayer — will later this year re-embark on the “End of the Road World Tour,” one final concert tour which will conclude just a few blocks away from where their wild roller coaster ride all began.

“December 1st and 2nd is Madison Square Garden — those are the last two shows of [KISS],” Stanley told Howard during a wide-ranging interview that also included in-studio performances of three of the band’s biggest hits. “We’re finishing up where we started.”

Photo: The Howard Stern Show

The farewell tour for the legends behind enduring hits like “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” originally kicked off in 2019, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic forced KISS to press the pause button for a few years. “We would’ve been done already – so, yes, this is the end,” Stanley, who performs as the Starchild, continued. “When you come to see the show, it’s awesome. It’s the most high-tech show out there, and yet it’s clearly a kick-ass rock and roll show.”

“It’s not Vegas. It’s not something that loses its balls, so to speak. It’s everything KISS, just amped up and ramped up,” he added. “We’re giving it everything we have.”

Howard wondered if Simmons, a.k.a. the Demon, might get emotional during the band’s last hurrah.

“I’m sure I’m going to cry like a nine year old girl whose foot is being stepped on,” Gene admitted. “KISS was born on 23rd Street — it’s only taken us 50 years to go play the final shows 10 blocks away.”

Did KISS Really Consider Naming the Band ‘Fuck’?

Gene and Paul first met as members of the New York City-based rock band Wicked Lester. When the duo split from the band in 1972 to start their group, they were tasked with the challenge of coming up with a name. One idea that was thrown out in jest was Fuck. “We were talking about it … first record could be ‘It,’ the second record could be ‘You,’ but it wasn’t serious,” Gene recalled.

As Paul remembered it, the band was driving around in his car when he suggested KISS – which everyone agreed on. “To me, KISS was a word that transcended the English language. You could go almost anywhere in the world and say the word KISS and people would go, ‘Oh, I’ve heard of them.’ It’s like calling a band Water,” the guitarist said. “And a kiss of death, a kiss of passion – it just seemed to incorporate all the elements of what we were doing.”

Though there have been rumors that the letters in “KISS” stand for something, including “Knights in Satan’s Service,” Paul quickly debunked that theory. “We’re smart, but we’re not that smart,” he noted.

Gene and Paul Are Brothers From Another Mother

Simmons and Stanley are two of rock’s most enduring hitmakers, right up there with John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and Bernie Taupin and Sir Elton John. Howard wondered if they shared the same sort of loving bond as those other successful duos. “Are you in love with Paul?” he asked Gene.

“Yes, in a very real way,” Gene replied before calling Paul his “brother from another mother.” “We don’t agree on all kinds of things, but you gotta understand the intrinsic heart and soul of what this relationship is based on: mutual respect,” he continued. “He knows stuff I will never know, hopefully I know some things, and one and one equals three.”

“We’re blessed but we didn’t get here overnight,” Stanley agreed before calling Simmons and his wife, Shannon Tweed-Simmons, two extensions of his own family.

Paul and Gene told Howard they were neighbors until recently but didn’t hang out regularly because of how much time they spent together on the road. “How much can you take?” Gene laughed. “We’re together more than married couples.”

Writing ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’ and ‘Strutter’

In 50 years as a band, the songwriting process has evolved over time. “At the beginning, we traded ideas and kind of co-wrote and stuff, and then we went off on our own,” Simmons told Howard of his work dynamic with Paul.

“Strutter,” off the band’s 1974 self-titled debut, might list Gene and Paul as co-writers, but decades later the duo is still in disagreement with how the song came to be. “He thinks he wrote ‘Strutter’ – I did,” Gene insisted before reciting the tune’s chord structure. “B or B minor to the G to the D to the A.”

Stanley, who has said the track was inspired by the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar,” disagrees. “He’s wrong,” he countered. “I wrote it … the lyrics are all mine.”

The pair, however, agreed that it was Paul who came up with the disco-flavored “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” off 1979’s “Dynasty.” Though Gene was enthusiastic about the lyrics, he was disheartened to find out he would be singing the word “doo” throughout the song. “I hate it to this day,” he admitted. “Except … stadiums full of people … they jump up and down like biblical locusts … and so I sing along.”

“It’s crazy,” Paul said of the song’s catchiness, noting that even when the band is on festival bills with much heavier metal acts, the universal appeal of it comes through. “We’d come on and we’re going ‘Doo, doo, doo,’ and the whole audience is ‘Doo, doo, doo,’ and that’s the beauty of music … It hits you in the heart.”

Not Performing at the Hall

KISS made big news in 2014 after they were finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but refused to perform at the ceremony. As Paul explained it Wednesday, the decision was made in defense of Singer and Thayer, who were neither included as inductees nor allowed to perform with the band on stage.

“We had too much pride in this lineup, which is KISS and has been KISS for 20 years. [Eric and Tommy are] not newcomers,” Paul told Howard. “This is the band that has carried the flag and taken it, really, to another level. This is the band I’d always dreamed it to be.”

“[The Rock Hall was] demanding, quite honestly, that we play with the two original guys, Peter [Criss] and Ace [Frehley],” he continued. “At this point, that would be demeaning to the band and also would give some people confusion because if you saw some people on stage who looked like KISS but sounded like that, maybe we should be called Piss.”

Despite the snub, Tommy and Eric still showed up at the ceremony to graciously support the other guys. “We were there [and] very proud. It would’ve been nice to have been inducted, too, but it just didn’t work that way this time, and you know [we] just rolled with it,” Tommy said.

“The hypocrisy is that we’re not a band [the Rock Hall] liked. They purposely kept us out for 15 years, [but with] other bands they embraced they’d induct people’s moms, and songwriters, and all these people,” Paul continued. “And with us it was truly unfair.”

The Rock Hall still hasn’t given Tommy and Eric the recognition they deserve, but the KISS Army has been far more welcoming. “We’ve been all over the world through decades with this present lineup [and] it bares noting I’ve never seen a single banner or sign that mentions any other lineup,” Simmons told Howard.

“Detroit Rock City”

KISS kicked off their in-studio concert with an invigorating rendition of their classic rock staple “Detroit Rock City.” Howard and co-host Robin Quivers were blown away by the energetic performance.

“Paul, I’m really impressed with your voice,” Howard said. “You still got it.”

Paul responded with a joke about how he still hits the high notes. “I got tights on,” he said with a laugh before getting serious about how singing doesn’t get any easier with age. “Anyone who says, ‘Paul doesn’t sound like he used to’? Right! I’m 70 years old. Michael Jordan doesn’t play like he used to.”

“Shout It Out Loud”

Next, the foursome performed “Shout It Out Loud,” the lead single off their 1976 album “Destroyer.”

“We love R&B, and part of the roots are the Four Tops,” Stanley said of the critically acclaimed tune which he said utilizes the call-and-response songwriting techniques so often found in rhythm and blues music. “I love it, I love it,” Howard said after hearing the guys’ “Shout It Out Loud” performance. “Fabulous.”

“Rock and Roll All Nite”

KISS ended their Stern Show concert like it has ended so many other concerts over the decades — with an exuberant recital of the band’s signature hit “Rock and Roll All Nite.” Stanley recalled writing the song with Simmons at the Continental Hyatt House on the Sunset Strip, an infamous hotel which also served as a stomping ground for notorious partiers like Led Zeppelin, the Who, and the Rolling Stones.

“This was the original anthem,” Paul told Howard, adding, “You can’t end the night with something better than that because that really encapsulates everything we’ve always been about, and that’s one thing in the show that doesn’t change.”

KISS’s “End of the Road World Tour” resumes Oct. 29 in Austin, Texas. Get more info on concert dates and tickets, which go on sale March 10, here.