Adam 12

11am - 4pm

September 18, 1983. After 10 years and 10 albums, KISS removed their makeup. It was terrifying. And hilarious.


1983 was a time of transition for KISS. They were coming off of their Creatures of the Night/10th Anniversary Tour. The Creatures of the Night album ushered in a harder edge to the signature KISS sound. That album also marked the debut of guitarist Vinnie Vincent: he contributed guitar tracks to six of the tracks. By that point, guitarist Ace Frehley had exited the band.


So it was no surprise to see Vincent on the cover of Lick It Up. What was surprising was to see Vincent alongside Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Eric Carr…without their trademark makeup. It was a watershed moment in rock at the time. But in hindsight, it makes sense: 10 years in, lineup shakeup, pivot in sound. The Gene Simmons Marketing Machine saw an opportunity and took it.


Let’s Remember How Bad It Was When KISS Removed Their Makeup

To clarify, when I saw how bad it was, I’m not talking about their actual unmasking (un-makeup-ing?) on MTV with VJ J. J. Jackson. That was actually cool and pretty well-executed by 1983 standards. Jackson was, as always, a consummate pro and handled the band and their big moment well. It’s a fun moment to go back and revisit. Take a look.


Now the first sans-makeup music video? That’s a whole different story. To quote my buddy Rubin: “Lick It Up the song was good. Lick It Up the video was an unintentional 3:56 horror show.” What the hell is going on here? Why is that woman washing a manhole cover? Why won’t Gene stop leering at the camera? That’s not sexy, Gene, you look like a damn caveman! And why can’t Vinny lip sync?


Maybe they should just put the makeup back on. Oh, that’s right, they did, eventually. Thank goodness.


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