‘We’re not really as good as Led Zeppelin’: Is this why Kiss originally put on their makeup?

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Guitarist Bruce Kulick, who was the rare member of Kiss to never wear make up, says he understands the impetus behind the move by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

“Gene and Paul realized: ‘We should put makeup on; we’re not really as good as Led Zeppelin — so we’ll do that,'” Kulick says in this clip. “And so here’s the magical moment in their brain that becomes a brand. It’s like as big as Coca Cola.”

Kulick, who was with Kiss from 1984-96, played on five of the group’s studio albums between Asylum and Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions. He also appeared on a pair of concert recordings, including Alive III.

The guitarist admits that not having their signature on-stage gimmick sometimes led Kiss to some unfortunate sartorial decisions along the way.

“There was only one little part of my years in Kiss where Gene was definitely dressed wrong — and he knows it, too: The (mid-1980s) Asylum era,” Kulick adds. “He’s such a fan of horror, and all of that world. He really did create this character based on Lon Cheney, and things that he grew up with. And he was able to take that and become the Demon rocker. Except for those couple of years, when he kind of lost his identity in the hair metal that Kiss represented — though we did it our way. Then he got back on track.”

The only other member of Kiss to have never worn make up was the late guitarist Mark St. John, whom Kulick replaced in ’84. St. John left after a bout of arthritis, and eventually died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 2007.

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