By Tommy Mann Jr
For the Record 

Farewell to the band that made me love music

 

Last updated 10/24/2023 at 12:29pm

Tommy Mann Jr.

Rock and roll legends KISS return to Austin on Sunday, Oct. 29, for the band's final Texas show ever as the final leg of the "End of the Road" World Tour.

One of the most iconic bands in the history of rock and roll is finally ready to retire. After more than 50 years, KISS is riding off into the sunset with "The End of the Road" tour and will play its final Texas concert on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Moody Center in Austin. I will be there to witness the event and, for me, it is a bittersweet moment because this band is the reason I love rock music so much.

I still remember the day it happened. It was early 1977 and I was just six years old. I was with my mom and dad, and we had gone to visit my maternal grandparents across town.

My uncle Mark was a teenager at the time. I remember always going into his room and gawking at all the cool things he had, including his numerous band posters. He had the KISS bicentennial poster, which was even cool looking to me as a child. He always had his music playing and would tell me about the bands when I asked questions, especially KISS.

On this visit, for some reason I never understood, Uncle Mark gave me my very first record on that particular visit. It was my own copy of the KISS album, "Rock and Roll Over." I was mesmerized by the artwork and more so by the band members.

Paul Stanley, the Starchild, staring through me. Gene Simmons, the Demon, with his long, devilish tongue. Peter Criss, the Cat, complete with cat eyes and fangs. And, of course, Ace Frehley, the Space Man, with lasers shooting from his eyes. How exciting, how cool!

My dad had a large collection of 45-speed records that he would play on combination television, radio, 8-track tape and record player every Sunday it seemed. Now that I had my own album, I could do the same, right?

Well, my dad was not too thrilled to hear that style of music, but I did get to play my record on occasion and how I loved those songs, especially "Calling Dr. Love" and "Ladies Room." It was the spark that ignited the flame for my love of rock and roll. I loved the band so much that, at the start of third grade, I picked out a KISS lunchbox for the school year and I still have it.

Fast forward to early 1983. KISS had announced its "Creatures of the Night" tour and had scheduled a stop in Beaumont for March 3. I was 12-years old and in seventh grade at the time and so excited about this event. I got home and begged my mom to let me go and she promptly told me no because I was too young.

Fast forward a few more years. It was late 1985 and I'm asleep with my radio on. I suddenly wake up to a commercial on the radio talking about tickets going on sale soon for the KISS concert on Feb. 26, 1986, at the Beaumont Civic Center. The band was touring in support of the "Asylum" album. This time my dream of seeing KISS, albeit the unmasked version, live in concert was going to come true.

That concert is a great memory for me. It was the fourth concert I ever attended and my first of five times to see KISS. It was loud, it was KISS and it was rock and roll.

I saw KISS again on the "Hot in the Shade" tour in Houston in 1990. It wasn't my favorite concert but it was still a great performance. Plus, the band played "I Was Made for Lovin' You" and that was fantastic to see and hear live.

The KISS acoustic special on MTV reunited the original lineup in the mid-1990s, and in 2000 I saw the original four members of KISS in concert twice, wearing the trademark makeup that captivated me as a child. Both shows were at the Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion in The Woodlands and both were glorious.

The most recent time I saw KISS in concert was the co-headlining tour with Motley Crue in 2012. Although it was not the original lineup, it was still the great live-music event one would associate with a KISS concert.

The funny thing about that show in 2012 was that my uncle Mark was there with his wife too. Shockingly, it was his very first time to see KISS in concert. The man who gave me my first record and inspired my love of the band and rock music had waited decades to see KISS in concert for one reason or another. Better late than never.

Now, fast forward once more to October 2023. The band has begun the final 25 shows of "The End of the Road" tour. It's Paul and Gene, along with Tommy Thayer in the "Space Man" makeup and Eric Singer in the "Cat" makeup. And that's OK. I get to see my music heroes once more and bid them a fond farewell as they ride off into the sunset.

So, with that, I want to say thank you for the music and thank you for the memories. It intertwined my time as a child with family, and as a teenager with my friends, and as an adult. No one can ask for more, except, maybe, one last KISS.

 

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