Ranking: KISS

Far and away, the most intriguing band coming to this year’s Sonic Temple Music and Art Festival is none other than KISS. Unlike the other three headliners, KISS will be making their first appearance at either Sonic Temple or its predecessor Rock on the Range. The legendary quartet’s appearance will not only be their first time at the Historic Crew Stadium, but it will also be the last time to see KISS in Ohio, as they are on their final tour. For real this time. They’ve announced that they are down to their last 50 shows and will officially end their touring career in their hometown New York City at the end of the year.

With a catalog of songs that began 50 years ago and album sales of over 100 million worldwide, Columbus is set to witness what will surely be another iconic performance on the main stage. In fact, there’ve only been a handful of bands that got their start in the 70’s that have played the festival. The very first headlining act for Rock on the Range was the legendary ZZ Top and in 2013 Cheap Trick were the direct support for Korn. As great as both of those performances were, KISS will likely set a new standard for what a festival headlining performance should look like. Although they haven’t played this venue yet, the two KISS shows that I’ve been fortunate enough to witness were both fantastic.

A KISS show has all of the elements needed for a great live experience. Pyro? Check. Wall of sound? Check. Spitting both blood and fire? Check. When you combine all of that with a set list of iconic sing along song and a rabid fanbase known as the KISS Army; you’ll be in for a good time! All Columbus needs to do now is show up and show out, and prove to Mr. Gene Simmons that at least in Ohio, rock is NOT dead!

Now, check out my list of the 20 Most Essential KISS tracks. I’ve linked them for your listening pleasure! Did I get it right? Vote in my poll above for your favorite KISS song!

  1. Black Diamond
  2. Love Gun
  3. Detroit Rock City
  4. God Of Thunder
  5. War Machine
  6. 100,000 Years
  7. She
  8. Parasite
  9. Hard Luck Woman
  10. I Stole Your Love
  11. Strutter
  12. I Want You
  13. Deuce
  14. Shock Me
  15. Cold Gin
  16. Calling Dr. Love
  17. Got To Choose
  18. Shout It Out Loud
  19. Do You Love Me?
  20. Crazy Crazy Nights

Rock in peace; July 2021 in memoriam

A brutal July has come and gone in regards to the untimely passing of several members of some of rock’s biggest bands.

On back to back days, July 14/15, bluesy hard rock band Cinderella lost two members of their band family. On the 14th, guitarist Jeff LaBar was found deceased. Unfortunately, hours later on the 15th they were made aware of the passing of long time touring member Gary Corbett had also passed away from lung cancer. LaBar played on each of Cinderella’s records and Corbett had been their long time live keyboard player. I’ve long maintained that Cinderella was the best and simultaneously most under rated of the “hair” era bands. I was fortunate to see the band perform live twice before their long time hiatus.

Days later on the 17th, long time Kansas violinist Robby Steinhardt passed away from pancreatitis. He hadn’t been a performing member of the band in quite some time, but during the band’s hey dey was credited for his violin work and being the co-lead singer of the band. Their frequent use of violins in rock songs, gave Kansas a sound that was fairly unique to them.

One of Steinhardt’s vocals was for the song Cheyenne Anthem

Unfortunately, on July 26th the losses would continue, and this time would hit the metal world hard. Former drummer of and co-founder of Slipknot Joey Jordison would pass on. He had been ill for awhile and it appears that he died in his sleep. Jordison, who cited Keith Moon (The Who) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) as influences of his, had won many awards for his drumming talents. These included being named the greatest drummer by the following publications: Rhythym magazine and Loudwire. He also won the Drummies Award for Best Metal drummer in 2010.

Jordison featured on Slipknot track Duality

That same day, metal vocalist Mike Howe, of Metal Church took his life at age 55. He was the bands second vocalist, manning the microphone from 1988-1996 and again from 2015 until the time of his death. At the time of his passing, the band had been working on a new album.

One day later, the rock world would lose a true titan in ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill. Hill, had recently left the road with some hip issues and had asked their long time guitar tech to cover for him. It appears, at least for the time being, that the band will continue on with this lineup as Billy Gibbons has said Hill asked for the band to carry on. Top’s most impressive feat had been that the Texas three piece had never had any lineup changes since their formation in 1969. As one of the longest running and stable rock bands in history, tributes and condolences poured in from throughout the rock world. ZZ Top, with Hill holding down the bottom end, were able to maneuver as a blues band, a southern rock band and in the eighties as one of the most commercially successful pop-rock bands with a slew of iconic music videos during the rise of MTV.

I was fortunate to be able to see ZZ Top twice. They were the first band to headline the Rock on the Range festival in 2007. The festival would go on to become the biggest rock festival in the United States before becoming the Sonic Temple festival in 2019. That first year ZZ Top closed the night and I recall being impressed as I was close enough and could see members from several of the newer bands of that time (Evanescence, Buckcherry, Hinder) standing to the side of the stage in awe of the icons performing in front of them. Icons.

ZZ Top performing their biggest “Hill” song, Tush.

Rock in peace to them all.