Kiss entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Thursday night, inducted by former Rage Against the Machine guitarist and obsessive Kiss fan Tom Morello. Below, read Morello’s induction speech, or go straight to speeches from the band members themselves.
Watch the full speech:
Tom Morello: Good evening, I’m Tom Morello.
They are four of the most recognizable faces on the planet, and one of the most iconic and badass bands of all time—tonight is the night that Kiss enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Growing up, Kiss was my favorite band—and it was not easy being a Kiss fan. Just as Kiss were relentlessly persecuted by critics, their fans were relentlessly persecuted by the self appointed arbiters of taste in middle schools and high schools across America. Arguments and even fistfights were not uncommon. I recall as a 15-year-old telling one bully, “You can kiss my Kiss-loving ass!” because Kiss was never a critics’ band, Kiss was a PEOPLE’s band. And so I waited in a long line on a bitter cold Chicago morning to buy a ticket for my first concert, a Kiss concert. I was especially thrilled because imprinted on the ticket were words that hinted that it was going to be a special event. The ticket said “A partial view of Kiss.” I was certain this meant the band were going to reveal some new secret corner of their artistic souls. In reality it meant that my seat was behind a pole. Still, that concert was the most exciting, cathartic, loudest and most thrilling two hours of live music I’ve seen to this day.
While there is a often debate about who should and shouldn’t be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I think the criteria are actually quite simple: IMPACT, INFLUENCE and AWESOMENESS. Kiss have all three in spades.
Impact? Kiss have sold over 100 million albums worldwide. They have 28 gold albums in the United States alone. That’s more than any other American rock band in history. Their theatrics were indisputably groundbreaking, but it was Kiss’ MUSIC that had an impact on ME. All four guys wrote great songs. All four guys were great LEAD singers. They practically invented the live album with Kiss Alive!. Then came Destroyer, Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun, Alive II, Dynasty, all exploding with killer riffs, anthemic choruses and screaming solos that for 40 years have been filling arenas and stadiums around the world.
Influence? Simply put, Kiss is the band that made me and millions of others love rock and roll. What Elvis and the Beatles were to previous generations, Kiss were to us. They propelled millions of young people to pick up instruments. Their influence is everywhere. From Metallica to Lady Gaga, Kiss have inspired thousands of artists of diverse genres, some of whom may be on a Hall of Fame trajectory themselves. They’ve been a formative influence on members of Tool, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Slipknot, Garth Brooks, Pantera, Foo Fighters, Motley Crue, Lenny Kravitz, White Zombie, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails…and Rage Against The Machine, to name just a few.
Ok. Impact? Check. Influence? Check. And the final criteria? Awesomeness. There’s a simple test for that. What if you had never seen or heard Kiss before? What if you had never heard a note of their music, never viewed a YouTube clip, never seen a reality show featuring any of the members? And what if you wandered into a divey club in your hometown and saw Kiss in all their glory thrashing the place to the ground? One guy belching fire and spraying blood past his gargantuan tongue. A drum riser bursting through the roof. A guitar player so incredible his axe billowed smoke and shot rockets. A frontman flying back and forth across the joint like a superhero Tarzan. All of them in frightening horror movie/comic book superstar, sexifying kabuki make up. All of them in black and silver warrior bondage gear and 7 inch platform heels. The place blowing up with explosions, screeching with sirens, raining confetti, all to the pounding soundtrack of bareknuckle badass heavy duty liberating rock and roll. What would you say if you saw THAT? You’d say, “That band’s fucking AWESOME and deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame!!” That’s what you’d say.
Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer have all been important in extending and expanding Kiss’ impressive legacy and they deserve a round of applause. But tonight we honor the fearsome foursome; the four original, founding members of Kiss. The Demon, Gene Simmons—he’s the God of Thunder, he’s Dr. Love. He’s Beatles-like bass on the bottom, a bat lizard Bela Lugosi on the top. The Starchild, Paul Stanley—the heart throb ringmaster of Kiss’ Psycho Circus. His vision, talent and dedication over four decades have made Kiss the band it is today. The Space Man, Ace Frehley—my first guitar hero. He designed the band’s iconic logo and blazed unforgettable, timeless licks across their greatest records. And The Cat, Peter Criss—jungle rhythms, jazz fills, and the writer and singer of the band’s biggest hit, the world’s first power ballad, “Beth.” Tonight we also honor the fifth member of the band without whom this night could never have happened. Tonight we honor The Kiss Army, generations of fiercely loyal fans who are celebrating this long overdue induction all over the planet tonight.
Tonight proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the high school bullies and the critics were mistaken. We Kiss fans were right. So let’s celebrate.
I misspoke earlier when I said that tonight Kiss enters the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. That’s ALMOST right. Because tonight…it’s not the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tonight it’s the Rock and Roll All Night And Party Every Day Hall of Fame. And so without further ado…Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss.
You wanted the best and you got the best, the hottest band in the world…Kiss.
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Gene Simmons: Lemme hear ya! Tom Morello, we are humbled—all of us—to stand up on this stage and do what we love doing. This is a profound moment for all of us. We are humbled that the fans gave us the chance to do what we love doing. And so I’m hear just to say a few kind words about the four knuckleheads who, 40 years ago, got together and decided to put together the band that you see on stage, critics be damned.
To Ace Frehley: his iconic guitar playing has been imitated, but never duplicated, by generations of guitar players around the world. To Peter Criss, whose drumming and singing…Well, there’s not a guy out there who beats the sticks who sounds just like Peter. Nobody’s got that swing and that style.
Something happened, 40 years ago: I met the partner and the brother I never knew I had—Paul Stanley. You couldn’t ask for someone more awesome to be on the same team. I am humbled.
I was going to say a few kind words about Eric Carr, Rest in Peace. Mark St. John, Rest in Peace. Vinnie Vincent, the great Bruce Kulick, and of course, here we are 40 years later with the great Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, and we continue on.
However, we wouldn’t be here today without the initial Fantastic Four. God bless you all. May I introduce the powerful and attractive — Peter Criss!
Peter Criss: Thank you. I want to say it’s great to be home in Brooklyn. I’d like to thank the Hall of Fame for this honor; I never thought this could happen in my life. Thank you. I’d like to thank everybody that had to do something with my career and the band’s career. For 50 years, I’ve been doing it; 40 years, we’ve been doing it.
Jesus — from the grips, to the truck drivers, to the great producers, to the great managers, to the great people who were just all there for us through all the years and the hard times. God bless you and thank you so much.
I definitely want to thank our first manager, Bill Aucoin. We would not be here if it wasn’t for Bill. Sean Delaney, the great Joyce Bogart, and the great Neil Bogart — who with Casablanca Records…those were the great days and I thank them all. I’d like to congratulate the band, of course — Mr. Stanley, Mr. Simmons, and the one and only Spaceman, Ace Frehley.
I’d also like to say I’m now seven years male breast cancer-free. Thank you — I’m very proud that I have… my fancy support center, and my doctor, who saved my life in the first place. Thank you so much.
I would like to thank my family—my sister Donna who I know is out there. All my friends who have come…and God, I’d be here all night. I’d like to thank my lovely wife Gigi, who makes my life really, really a lot easier. Lemme tell ya: walking through life with her is a blessing. I love you, baby.
I got my first lesson from my best friend, Jerry Nolan of the New York Dolls. And boy, that’s what started it all off.
I want to say that, even out of makeup, I’ll always be the Catman. God bless each and every one of you—I will remember this the rest of my life. Thank you so much.
Ace Frehley: I have a speech here, but these [glasses] aren’t prescription, so I can’t work it out [laughs]. It’s so great to be here with all these celebrities and other musicians.
I want to thank Paul, Gene, and Peter. Thank you so much, Tom, for that beautiful introduction. I want to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for inducting us; thank you very much.
When I was 13 years old, I picked up my first guitar, and I always sensed that I was going to be in for something big. Little did I know, a few years later, there it was. I experienced the Summer of Love. [laughs] Alright. That was before I met these clowns. Several years later, we got together — you know the story, it’s all KISS-tory.
A few quick names—Bill Aucoin, Joyce Biawitz—who used to manage us in conjunction with Bill, then ended up marrying Neil Bogart. We wouldn’t be here without Neil Bogart and Casablanca Records. Everyone at Casablanca Records, everyone at ATI, Jeff, and Wally. Everyone at the press office; Carol and Al Ross; Carol Kaye; just to name a few. If I named everyone who helped us through our career, I’d be here for another half an hour. It’s great to be here.
I wanted to touch on the fact that I’ve been sober now for seven and a half years. We still need to educate the people in this country about sobriety because some people think it has to do with willpower. But unfortunately, most addicts are born that way and people need to be educated about that. My sponsor, he used to have a good saying, to try and explain what it’s like to be an addict: when people would say to use willpower, he’d say, “Try using willpower when you’re having diarrhea.”
So, only by the grace of God I’m here. I want to thank my first wife Jeanette, my daughter, my current fiancé Rachael Gordon. Life’s been good to me; hopefully I’ve got 10 or 20 more years to go. Thank you very much.
Paul Stanley: I can make this short and sweet because everybody said everything and has been much funnier than I’ll ever be.
So, I got to thank Tom, who’s championed us shamelessly and unapologetically. Took a lot of balls, and God bless you. For us, this is a special night, but it’s really a special night for all of our fans—this is vindication. We couldn’t have done this without you.
To Peter, Ace, Gene — we are the original four, so we could not have done this if we didn’t start this together. Everything we’ve done is built on the past. We’ve got a great, great legacy. We’ve got Bruce here, we’ve got Tommy, we’ve got Eric…
When I first started listening to music, I was lucky: I saw a lot of people I loved. When I was a kid, I saw Solomon Burke, I saw Otis Redding, I got to see the Yardbirds. I got to see Led Zeppelin; Jimi Hendrix; Sly and the Family Stone; the list goes on and on. What I loved about all these musicians is that they had the spirit of Rock and Roll. I believe that the spirit of Rock and Roll means you follow your own path regardless of critics, and regardless of your peers. I think we’ve done that for forty years.
Here we are tonight, basically inducted for the same things that we were kept out for. The people, I believe we’re speaking to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and what they’re saying is, “We want more.” They deserve more. They want to be apart of the induction. They want to be apart of the nomination. They don’t want to be spoon-fed by a handful of people. Choices. The people pay for tickets. The people buy albums. The people who nominate do not. Let’s not forget that these are the people that make it all possible.
So, I look out here and I see all these people. I see faces that over the years inspired me. People who made me what I am. So I am here tonight because of the people who inspired me, but I’m also here because of the people I inspired. So God bless you all; it’s been a wonderful night.
Watch the full speech: