"Peter Criss leaves KISS" was on the lips of many entertainment reporters in the spring of 1980. KISS released Unmasked on May 29, 1980, followed shortly by Out Of Control, Peter Criss's first independent solo album. Although Peter was pictured with the group on the Unmasked cover, it was obvious to loyal listeners that it was not Peter's drumming on the album. It was revealed years later by KISS that studio drummer Anton Figg was brought in to fill Peter's boots.

In the summer of 1980, KISS announced that they had found a new drummer and were planning a European tour. So, who was this new drummer? Three thousand lucky KISS fans were about to find out.

Rumors started to spread that KISS were rehearsing for the tour at The Palladium in New York City. The last time KISS had played this old theatre was as an opening act for Blue Oyster Cult on New Years Eve 1973, when the venue was known as The Academy of Music.

Fans investigated the rumors and found KISS music blasting from every crack in the old building foundation. Each day of rehearsal brought more KISS fans to the front steps of The Palladium. It was a last minute decision by KISS to open the doors to fans for one warm-up show and introduce the newest member of KISS

Just days before the show, a modest ad was run in the New York papers: "A NIGHT TO REMEMBER - KISS at The Palladium, July 25, Tickets On Sale Now."

Just a year before, on July 24 and 25, 1979, KISS was sold out at New York's Madison Square Garden, so this warm-up performance at such a small venue sold out immediately.

The Night To Remember was a warm, muggy, summer evening in New York City. Three thousand people packed in with only two open doors and four large fans. It was the set up for a hot night of rock and roll.

The opening act was a local Rockabilly band that had their finger on the pulse of the changes in rock and roll music in 1980. However, it was a different finger that KISS's heavy metal fans gave this band during their short set.

Finally the moment all KISS concert fans wait for. Fade to black ­ nothing but the red lights of the amps glowing ­ smoke fills the stage. As if it was the voice of GOD himself, "Alright, New York!" Then everyone in unison with the god's voice: "You wanted the best! You got the best! The hottest band in the world, KISS!"

"Detroit Rock City," played at arena volume, was the opener. Although KISS had opened with this song many times before, this time it was different. This time all eyes were on the drummer

The questions KISS fans had been asking for months were now being answered by the first drum break.
This guy could really play


KISS plowed through the set business a usual. "Cold Gin" had Ace Frehley taking a double lead vocal with Gene Simmons. "Strutter," "Calling Doctor Love," and the Unmasked opener "Is That You." "Firehouse," ending with Gene blowing fire. Two more Unmasked songs, "Talk To Me" and the rarely heard "You're All That I Want." The old Rolling Stones song "2000 Man," including a smoking guitar solo by Ace. Then "Love Gun" and "Shout It Out Loud" brought the show in to high gear. Gene Simmons started off "God Of Thunder" with his traditional blood­spitting and flying routine that lead the show in to the drum solo. The drum set came alive as the newest member of KISS showed off his chops. After the drum solo, I don't think there was a doubt in anyone's mind that KISS was back and ready to rock. "Isn't he great?" asked Paul Stanley. "The Fox, Eric Carr!" KISS closed the show with their self-proclaimed rock and roll national anthem "Rock and Roll All Nite."

Returning to the stage for encores: Ace's KISS solo album hit "New York Groove," 1979's opener "King Of The Night Time World," and closing the show, "Black Diamond." In past shows, Paul sang the opening portion of "Black Diamond," then Peter would come in and sing the lead. However, this time the newest member of KISS, Eric Carr, was on lead vocals. This guy could sing, too.


The rest of the KISS Army would get to know Eric Carr in the cover story of the August 1980 issue of People Weekly. Later that summer,
KISS fans also got to know Eric Carr from an appearance on the TV show Kids are People Too. This was just the beginning of the second coming of KISS.


By: Quig Carson


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