KISS: How 2 Teenagers Created The KISS Army

Kiss

How 2 Teens From Indiana Created The KISS Army

Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they tell the story of how 2 teens from Axl Rose’s home state of Indiana created the KISS Army. Check it out below!

What’s going on my fellFew fan clubs are as notorious as the Kiss Army, but the idea for the fan club didn’t come from the band them sleves or their manager or even record label, People can thanks two loyal teenage fans from the midwest. How did this happen stay tuned to find out. 

 

The story of the Kiss army began with two teenage fans from Indiana. They were named Bill Starkey and Jay Evans and they lived in the Indiana City of Terra Hautte. 

Starkey came from a family who supported his love of rock n’ roll taking him to KiSS’s conerns in 1974 and his father worked at a warehouse as an expeditor for Columbia Records. His father gave Bill his first kiss record, their self titled debut album from February of 1974.  Starkey’s father liked Kiss, but he would tease his son about what he saw as a band without a future telling his son, ‘Your band isn’t doing it,’. ” ‘They’re playing shows, but the sales are bad. We’re not shipping anything.’  He wasn’t far off from the truth The band’s first three albums — Kiss, Hotter Than Hell and Dressed to Kill —didn’t dominate the rock charts. 

It didn’t matter to Starkey he still followed his favourite band and was able to create new fans out of kids from school. His friend Jay Evans made bootleg copies of Kiss albums, which he shared with the people with people at school. 

Starkey and Evans worked at a place called Wayne’s World fashion, where they would decide Starkey would  become the commander-in-chief of the Kiss Army, while Evans would take the title of field marshal. You’re maybe wondering why did they call it the Kiss Army and not just the Kiss fan club? According to Evans he would say “it sounded too wimpy.”

Prior to the band getting any airplay on radio Starkey and Evans would be teased mercilessly by their school mates over being kiss fans. Evans would remember

“We all showed up at school in our Kiss T-shirts and got taunted. Still, it didn’t really dampen our enthusiasm. Usually, in high school, anything you get taunted for, you want to shy away from. But we just didn’t.” According to Starkey they would say things to the pair including “Kiss? Kiss my a–. Starkey, if they’re so good, why aren’t they on the radio?” Starkey for his part couldn’t come up with a good response and he wondered yeah why aren’t they on the raido. 

 

in January of 1975 they wanted to get their favourite band Kiss played on the local radio so they started calling radio station WVTS, but the program director Rich Dickerson ignored their request referring to Kiss as a and i quote “mediocre Bachman Turner Overdrive” Rather than give up they called back the radio station claiming to be the KISS Army. They would continue to badger the station going as far as sending in letters threatening to blow up the station unless they complied with their request. Their perseverance seemed to pay off as by the summer of 1975 the radio station started playing KISS music often referring to the Kiss army live on the air. Also helping things was that Kiss’ live album Alive was released around this time and the band was scheduled to play the City that fall. It wasn’t long before the radio station was inundated with calls from people asking how they could enlist in the Kiss army.

 

When WVTS decided to play KISS on their station they had to reach out to Starkey to bring in his recordings from teh band as the station had previously thrown out their singles for Rock N’ Roll All Nite and Strutter. 

 

Soon enough the program director for the radio station jjoined forces with the two teens to help promote an upcoming Kiss concert in Terra Haute.. Soon enough Kiss’ publicist would reach out to Starkey and Evans to discuss the Kiss Army which wasn’t an official fan club just yet. The teens  found themselves going live on WVTS to recruit as many members as possible ahead of their scheduled show.. Kiss would perform in Tera Hautte on November 21, 1975 and to recognize the efforts of Starkey he met the band at the airport, was brought on stage and given an honorary plaque, ate dinner with the band at a chinese restaurant following the show and had breakfast with them the following morning. Starkey initially thought that he would continue to run the kiss army from his home in Indiana. In november of 1975 Kiss management company got in touch with starkey and said the group was looking forward to the band having their fan club headquarters in tera haute. The following year his dream would be dashed as Starkey received a letter from Boutwell Enterprises from Woodland Hills informing Starkey he would be running the Kiss Army.  

 

Kiss manager Bill Aucoin procured howard Marks Inc to create the logo for the fan club. The band’s 1976 album Destroyer featured order forms. Ron Boutwell who was the band’s head of merchandising at the time claimed that at its peak the kiss army was bringing in $5,000 per day and had almost 100,000 members. By the 80’s the Kiss Army seemed to fall off the band’s radar and for Starkey’s part he was never compensated financially for his work but he would get complimentary tickets to the band’s shows. In August of 2007 the band announced the reactivation of the Kiss Army. One of the band’s higher profile members was former US Secretary of State Condolizza Rice who enlisted in teh army in May of 2008.Terre Haute concert, the Kiss Army became the official fan club of the group. In 1976, Kiss manager Bill Aucoin requested Howard Marks Inc. to create an official Kiss Army logo. The logo was designed by Dennis Woloch, long time KISS art director from a concept by his co-worker Vincent DiGerlando. Order forms for the Kiss Army first appeared with this new official logo in 1976’s album Destroy

Starkey would up going on to become a teacher at an inner city school.