Launched November 24, 1972 with a show that included Alice Cooper, Bo Diddley, Jethro Tull, Curtis Mayfield and Seals & Crofts, ABC’s In concert The series presented American viewers with something of a dilemma.
Produced by Dick Clark Productions, the show featured footage from recent live broadcasts, but also battled for viewers with NBC’s own late-night variety show. The Midnight Special, which aired in the same timeslot. A full decade before the videotape revolution, users had to choose between the two shows, with no way to catch up on what they had missed.
Cut to March 29, 1974. On NBC, The Guess Who hosts The Midnight Special, featuring live entertainment from Slade, Wishbone Ash, David Essex, Leo Kottke, Judi Pulver and Sha-Na-Na. And on ABC, it’s Foghat, Melissa Manchester, Redbone, Kool & the Gang, and an up-and-coming band from New York making their television debut. They make quite an entrance.
“Hey World! We’re Kiss!” He’s a 22-year-old Paul Stanley, and he already talks like Kiss is the hottest band in the world. “We want everyone here to come with us. Because you have nothing to lose!”
Fuck then throw in Nothing to lose from their debut album, released the previous month. As the song intros go, it’s cheesy and deliberately unimaginative, but it’s also perfect. Kiss is here to show us a good time, they’ll tell us we’re about to have a good time, and then we’ll all have a good time together. It’s not rocket science, but it is East clever, and it’s a lot more fun than David Essex.
They are also fully trained. The show, the crepe, the costumes. Everything is in place. They can all sing, and they’re tighter than you’d expect for a band that had only left New York for the first time the month before (a backing slot with Rory Gallagher and Fleetwood Mac at the Long Beach Auditorium in California had followed an unlikely trio of Canadian regional shows).
the In concert aired also features the classics Fire station and Black Diamond. They also recorded a fourth, Devilbut the song was never released and the soundtrack was lost.
The show did what Casablanca Records hoped for. Instead of spending years crisscrossing the North American club circuit, paying their dues, the label wanted to accelerate the band, getting them in front of as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
And for a generation of American teenagers, the In concert To display was as crucial as David Bowie’s iconic top pops his appearance two years earlier had been for his future British audience. Kiss was otherworldly, and so much larger than life. They provided an escape from boredom, from routine. And they shone.
When Dick Clark died in 2012, Paul Stanley took to Facebook to pay tribute.
“As a little boy, I sat in front of our TV every afternoon and Saturday night watching American Bandstand,” he wrote. “Dick Clark was the face of rock and roll and its best ambassador.
“His decades of success both in and outside the music industry are unparalleled. He stood up for Kiss when others turned away and was instrumental in our show. In concert.”
The band started the year playing for around 135 fans at the Dinwoodie Lounge in Edmonton, Canada. In the end, they would sell out a pair of shows at the 5,000-seat Michigan Palace in Detroit. Kiss was on his way.