The classic “Alive” cover backline was premiered in May 1975. The production was re-vamped, though not as much as one might think. Peter’s endorsement from Pearl officially began, and he had a new set of creme Pearl drums made for him. New costumes were made for the band, which are considered their “Alive!” costumes. (An interesting note, within 3 days after the Cobo Hall show, Paul had stars added to his costume and boots). Aside from that, not much was still that different. The guitar and bass rigs, along with the logo, were exactly the same. A pair of mirrorballs were added to the sides of the logo, but didn’t last too long.
The levitation machine was not set up at the Michigan Palace for the dress rehearsals, but it was set up, for the first time, at Cobo Hall, on top of a secondary 3 foot riser. This is the only time the forklift riser would have raised Peter’s drum kit while on top of another riser, and the story goes that it accidentally wasn’t plugged in. They never attempted it again. After this gig, the LVM was permanently retired.
So, say farewell to the forklift drum riser, cause this is the last time you see it. Immediately following this gig, Kiss reverted to the previous staging and Peter’s Ludwig kit on a non-levitating riser for gigs in the upper midwest and Las Vegas.
On either May 30th or 31st, Kiss finally debuts Peter’s new drum riser, a 4 foot high chrome box with a visible border on the sides and vertically down the middle, complete with a revamped version of the Creme Pearl Drum Kit – now a 13 piece kit. The Ludwigs that have served him since December 31, 1973 are officially retired.
Ready for the bombshell of this entire blog series? Here it is: Peter’s new drum riser does not have levitation ability. No one ever notices this, but between May 6th, 1975 and December 31, 1975 – nearly 8 full months of prime touring activity that includes their breakthrough success point with the recording and release of the “Alive!” album – one of the most memorable and talked about effects in their show is not present. This is perhaps a growing pain they can’t quite overcome due to financial restraints. In what seems like an attempt to mask this, a strobe effect is added to the part of the show where this would normally take place at the end of “Black Diamond”. Once the levitation effect is re-created on a bigger scale using a scissor lift system in December 1975, the strobe effect stays in. Also worth noting is that a second riser is created for the a new LVM V2, which is permanently attached to the riser, and is eventually covered in mirrorball chrome squares before the January 1976 Cobo Hall dates. The first riser seen in the above Long Beach arena photo stays as it is, and it stays on tour with them, in the event they can’t use the new LVM for any reason. It even follows them to Europe where it is used in venues that cannot accommodate the LVM due to height of the ceiling, stage weight, or other venue limitations.
Around November 1st, 1975, the next major backline change took place. Gene’s bass cabinets were changed to a set of 6 1×15 W-bin bass cabinets. Gene’s Charlie Lobue Bass makes it’s return at this time. A great reference on this bass is at – http://axeology.com/LoBue.html
During the last 2 weeks of December 1975 and culminating with the Cobo Hall shows in 1976, the final backline changes are made that will stay for the remainder of the “Alive!” tour and throughout the U.K./European Destroyer Tour. Firstly, one at a time, the band got new and improved versions of their “Alive!” costumes, starting with Gene, then Ace, then Paul, and finally Peter.
The KISS lighted logo was re-designed and re-built for the first time in over a year. It debuted in Providence, RI on December 29th. The new logo looked very much the same, and was the same height with the same number of bulbs, but this new logo had the lights attached inside the frame, not on the front of the frame, and now could be lit one letter at a time. This allowed for chaser effects for the first time in the KISS logo, a trend that would continue for the rest of their career.
Gene’s bass rig was extended to a total of 10 1×15 cabinets with 5 Ampeg SVT heads, and Paul and Ace’s Marshall rigs were extended to 5 full stacks and 10 heads in total. A wider white trim was added to the heads and cabinets. Peter’s new scissor lift LVM was in place and used for the first time at the NYE Nassau Coliseum show, and by the time they get to Cobo Hall in January 1976, the scissor lift LVM was permanently attached to a riser with mirrorball squares. The other riser was still used at gigs that couldn’t accommodate the lift, for whatever reason. So the new rule emerges From January 25, 1976 onward: If Peter’s drum riser has chrome mirrorball squares, it levitates. If not, it doesn’t.
From here, the backline changed very little, though in some smaller venues in Europe the amount of guitar and bass cabinets would be scaled depending on venue sizes. June 6, 1976 was the last time this naturally evolving KISS tour stage backline would be seen.
Well, not completely. When KISS embarks on it’s 1976 Destroyer tour the amps remain, although now covered by the “city in ruins” scenery.
For more on the original KISS Krew, check out Out on the Streets.
Ros Radley’s Book Magic – Kiss Kronicles 1973-1983 will be an amazing reference. Stay tuned to his Facebook page for updates.