Kiss (often stylized as KISS) is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973. Well known for its members' black and white face paint and flamboyant stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid to late 1970s with their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics. Counting the 1978 solo albums, Kiss has been awarded 28 gold albums to date, the most of any American rock band. The band has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States, of which 20 million have been certified by the RIAA and their worldwide sales exceeds 100 million records, making them one of world’s best-selling bands of all time. The original 1973–'80 lineup consisted of Paul Stanley (vocals and rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (vocals and bass guitar), Ace Frehley (lead guitar and vocals) and Peter Criss (drums and vocals).
With their makeup and costumes, they took on the personas of comic book-style characters: Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley) and Catman (Criss). The band explains that the fans were the ones who ultimately chose their makeup designs. Stanley became the "Starchild" because of his tendency to be referred to as the "starry-eyed lover" and "hopeless romantic". The "Demon" makeup reflected Simmons' cynicism and dark sense of humor, as well as his affection for comic books. Frehley's "Spaceman" makeup was a reflection of his fondness for science fiction and his supposedly being from another planet. Criss' "Catman" makeup was in accordance with the belief that he had nine lives because of his rough childhood in Brooklyn. Because of creative differences, both Criss and Frehley were out of the group by 1982. The band's commercial fortunes had waned considerably by that point.