Pete Townshend wrestles with the Kiss phenomenon: ‘Not quite sure about it’

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For Pete Townshend, the whole Kiss thing couldn’t be more foreign. And not just because Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Co. wear such outlandish outfits. They simply have no connection to the UK stomping grounds that spawned the Who, he says.

“One thing that Kiss are absolutely, unquestionably not — in any sense, whatsoever — is European or English,” Townshend says, in a newly posted talk with Hazy Rock. “They are straight out of Creem magazine meets Las Vegas. Or New Orleans, even. There is a bit of New Orleans in it, a very American, kind of Mardi Gras thing. They couldn’t have happened here. They could maybe have happened in Berlin — in which case their music wouldn’t have been like their music. They would have looked like they looked, but they would have made different kind of music. They’re a very American phenomenon.”

That said, Pete Townshend admits that the on-stage garb baffled him, at least to begin with.

“The early years of Kiss were difficult, because there was sort of a parody of rock inherent in what they were doing,” Townshend says. “And also, that business of wearing disguises. Not quite sure about it. You know, I think I’d have to do an academic study to try and work out what’s really doing on there.”

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