Per Elvis Presley‘s stepbrother Billy Stanley, the “King of Rock and Roll” first heard KISS around 1975, and upon hearing the band for the first time, he had some interesting things to say about them.
During a recent conversation talking to Artists on Record, Stanley revealed what the late rocker thought of KISS. Presley’s stepbrother brings up the first time Elvis heard KISS, which would have been when Stanley was listening to the band’s first live album, titled Alive!. Speaking about this moment, Stanley shares the following (as transcribed by Ultimate Classic Rock):
“I got it cranked up, playing air guitar. Elvis comes down [and asks] ‘What are you listening to?’ ‘It’s a band called Kiss.’ … And I showed him the album cover and he said, ‘Uh … OK.’ He sat down on the couch, looking at it, and he said, ‘OK, I get it!’”
Stanley goes on to add the following:
“He said, ‘So play that song again that you was just playing.’ It was ‘Let Me Go Rock and Roll.’ I played it. I actually played it two times for him, and I was surprised when he said, ‘Play it again.’ I played it again.
“I said, ‘What do you think?’
“He said, ‘Well, I understand the whole thing. You know, Kiss – keep it simple, stupid. And they got the makeup so they can walk around when they get off the stage. Nobody sees them and knows who they are or anything like that.’ He said, ‘Good idea.’”
Presley’s stepbrother went on to share some additional thoughts that the late rocker had in regard to KISS, mentioning how impressed Presley was by Ace Frehley‘s guitar playing. Per Stanley:
“He said, ‘Billy, listen to it. All it is is a ‘50s groove. But that guitar player.’ I said, ‘That’s Ace [Frehley].’ He said, ‘That guy’s got some X-rated guitar licks. I really like him.’ … Before he walked out of the room he said, ‘I get it – it’s three chords and a cloud of dust [and] that’s how you do it. And you leave them wanting more. I’m sure that’s how they do it in their live performances.”
What do you make of Elvis Presley’s points about KISS? Do you agree with the rock and roll legend? Below you can listen to the full interview featuring Elvis’ stepbrother, where he also talks about another Elvis/KISS-related story.