By Steve Spears
The year was 1979, and a wide-eyed 12-year-old boy had but one dream: seeing Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss live in concert at the Lakeland Civic Center.
Kiss. The self-proclaimed "hottest band in the world" and uncontested rulers over concert halls and my bedroom wall. Yep, my dream.
Imagine the pure torment to hear my desperate plea denied. "I'm sorry, but someone your age has no business at a concert," my mom lectured. The same woman who dutifully bought me that coveted Destroyer album. Who patiently stood quiet while I sang along loudly to Love Gun (in my prepubescent incomprehension of the meaning of the song). Who lovingly hand-painted me a Kiss pillow cover featuring all four of my makeup-strutting rock god heroes.
How could she fail to allow me to complete my journey to manhood?!?
It's not too often in life one gets a chance to right a historic wrong. But 30 years later, on Oct. 21 at the St. Pete Times Forum, the cosmic clickers should finally align and the 12-year-old deep inside me can stop his wailing: I have a pair of floor seats to Kiss in concert at last.
So join me, if you can, to sing along again to those simple rock ditties that fascinated us all so long ago. Detroit Rock City, Hotter Than Hell, Rock and Roll All Nite, Shout It Out Loud. Don't even pretend you don't remember the words.
Squeal with delight when Simmons flicks his tongue, spits fire, drools fake blood. Try not to wince too hard at Stanley's hammy song intros. And raise a beverage of choice in memory of Frehley and Criss, whose spacey and feline personas are these days played by Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer.
Because a Kiss concert isn't merely a night on the town. It's the night of every 12-year-old's life.