SickthingsUK: KISS

Billy 'Antbee' James

Alice Cooper and Kiss
Kiss with the Alice Cooper and his band.

US rock icons Kiss are far to well known for it to be worth including too much background information about them here, you all know who they are, so this page concentrates on someof the connections between the two acts.

It has been well documented (in Kiss biographies and interviews) that when Kiss formed, the idea was that "if one Alice Cooper worked, four Alice Cooper's would work as well". Members of the band and/or their manager Bill Aucoin, were also at early '70s Alice shows. In a 1997 radio interview, when asked about his/their influences, Paul Stanley is reported to have listed various bands but not Alice Cooper. The interviewer questioned this to which Stanley replied "Well, Alice goes without saying". Unfortunately, in recent years, there has been a habit of avoiding mentioning Alice (though they don't go as far out of there way to avoid it as David Bowie did!), so maybe it would be nice if Stanley did state the obvious a little more.

In the 70s the press often compared Kiss with Alice Cooper, although their shows were quite different, and too this day there is a habit for Cooper fans to dismiss Kiss as copyists or inferior, but in truth the two artists have little in common stylistically beyond using make-up, being rock bands, and using Bob Ezrin.

In 1976, hot on the back of their breakthrough live album 'Alive' Kiss hired Cooper producer Bob Ezrin for their 'Destroyer' album which features the classics 'Detroit Rock City' and hit ballad 'Beth'. In the studio Ezrin worked the band hard to raise their performances. None of the band were trained musicians and he brought in regular collaborator Dick Wagner to help out on 'Sweet Pain', 'Flaming Youth', 'Great Expectations' and the acoustic guitar on 'Beth'. The album was a marked change from previous Kiss material, being slicker and less raw then their first three releases, which is exactly what Simmons and Stanley were looking for.

Ezrin returned to Kiss in 1981 for their controversial concept album 'Music from The Elder'. The album split fans with it's impenetrable story and shift of musical style after the disco-influenced 'Dynasty' and 'Unmasked'.

In the late 90s/early 200s drummer Eric Singer would split his time between touring with Alice Cooper and Kiss. At first it wasn't too had, but as time went on Kiss' schedule started to bet fuller and several times Alice had to get a stand in while Singer played shows with Kiss. Put simply, Kiss paid more money, so eventually the time came when Eric had to make a choice and accepted the offer to play with Kiss full time where he remains to this day. Ex-Cooper keyboardist Teddy Zig Zag has also played off-stage with Kiss in the past.


Alice Sues Kiss?

In late 1998, news broke that Alice was suing Kiss over a song on Kiss' new 'Psycho Circus' album called 'Dreaming' which showed more than a slight music resemblance to 'I'm Eighteen'. In fact Alice had nothing to do with it. The company who own the rights to 'I'm Eighteen' (Herb Cohen's Bizarre/Six Palms) were the ones who had brought the suit against Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick, the writers of 'Dreaming'. Billboard reported:

Kiss, Alice Cooper In Legal Clash

Kiss members Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick are being sued for copyright infringement over the song "Dreamin'." The complaint alleges that the song sounds too similar to the Alice Cooper hit "Eighteen." Billboard Bulletin reports that Six Palms Music Corp., publisher of "Eighteen," which was written by Cooper and his band, filed the complaint October 21st in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles; the suit also names PolyGram International Publishing Inc. and Mercury Records [who released the album]. "Dreamin'," written by Stanley and Kulick, is a track from the new Kiss album, "Psycho-Circus," released on September 22nd on Mercury.

Six Palms, which also does business as Bizarre Music, is seeking unspecified financial damages.

The similarities between the songs are immediately obvious, and to add to the problem there are quite a few other similarities through the album. Paul had been to see Alice at the House Of Blues shows in LA a couple of months earlier so had seen Alice's 'Rock And Roll Carnival' show, although the album was almost certainly recorded by then and the song was probably written earlier when Kulick was still a member of Kiss. However, Stanley cannot in honesty try to claim to be unfamiliar with 'I'm Eighteen'. Also, just to add insult to injury, an interview with Peter Criss appeared a couple of weeks later in which Criss stated that the whole 'Psycho Circus' album was heavily influenced by Alice.

Eventually www.rollingstone.com (August 18, 1999) reported:

Coop Vs. Kiss Case Put to Rest - Legal battle between Alice Cooper and Kiss settled out of court

Eleven months after Alice Cooper's former publishers filed a suit for copyright infringement against Kiss frontman Paul Stanley and former guitarist Bruce Kulick, the parties have reached an out-of-court settlement. Six Palms Music Corp., which filed the complaint with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on October 28th, 1998, contended that the Kiss song "Dreamin,'" from their latest album, 'Psycho Circus', sounded far too much like the Cooper classic "Eighteen," released back in 1971. The company, which published the Cooper hit, alleges that Stanley had to have heard the chart-topping single on numerous occasions since the two groups were contemporaries in the Seventies shock rock scene.

According to insiders, Six Palms was initially asking for a rather high settlement amount and planned to take the case to court, but once the lawyers for Kiss's label presented them with the disappointing sales figures for 'Psycho Circus' they lowered the amount they were asking. Paul Stanley and Bruce Kulick were in attendance at the settlement talks, but Cooper was not. The parties reached their agreement on August 12th.

Ironically, Bruce Kulick's brother Bob toured with the Alice Cooper in 1975 [actually 1977] during their 'Welcome to My Nightmare' tour, and he even produced last year's Alice Cooper tribute album, Humanary Stew, playing on its rendition of "Eighteen."

Evan Cohen, lawyer for Six Palms, confirmed that the case had been settled, but declined to give any further details. Cooper's management also confirmed that a settlement had been reached, but said they had no further details: "We heard that the suit had been settled, but since we weren't party to it, we didn't expect an official confirmation." Although no one is saying, it's rumoured that the settlement was in the low six figures. Calls to McGhee Entertainment, Kiss's management company, were not returned.
(Jaan Uhelszki, Rolling Stone)


Alice Cooper and Paul Stanley
Alice Cooper and Paul Stanley of Kiss,
on stage together at a charity event in 2013.

In 2007 Alice Cooper opened a show for Kiss at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, the first two the two bands had played on the same bill. Ozzy Osbourne was also on the bill.

In recent years current Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer regularly appears at Alice's charity events including the annual golf tournament in Phoenix. Original Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley has opened multiple Cooper shows (joining Alice on stage for 'School's Out' at one show) and the members of Kiss even appeared together at the annual Christmas pudding show in 2013, as did Ace in 2017. While the press often tried to pit the two artists against each other the fact is Alice has never had a problem with Kiss or what they do. In 2006 he commented "I always used to laugh at Kiss. My joke for them was, 'When you guys can't think of anything to do, you just blow something up!" But it was all just in fun. Alice has even sung Kiss' anthem 'Rock And Roll All Nite' on more than one occasion!

"When [KISS] came out, they did something that I considered to be very smart — they didn't try to say that they invented it. They started out by saying, 'Look, if one Alice Cooper works, then four oughta work.' It wasn't like, 'Alice who? Gee, we never saw his show. Oh, he wears makeup, too?' They did the whole pyro-Kabuki–comic-book characters thing, whereas Alice was much more musical, for one thing. And I always thought that Alice was more Phantom of the Opera, a little bit more cerebral, a little bit scarier, because you never knew quite where Alice was coming from."