The El Paso County Coliseum held “8 Decades of the Coliseum, a Musical Tour” yesterday. Here’s an article of one of the bands that was featured in the 8 decades of El Paso County Coliseum.
In 1976, the rock group KISS came to town for their first concert in El Paso at the County Coliseum. I elbowed myself to the front of the crowd who were all pushing against each other in the pit and stationed myself in a good location, in front of the stage, off center, and I shot one roll of black-and-white photographs. The concert was quite a spectacle. I used a Minolta Single Lens Reflex 101 camera with a standard 55 mm lens. I pushed Kodak Tri-X film to 800 ASA using available light (no flash) and developed and printed the photographs. A photo essay of the images was printed in the school newspaper. I kept the negatives as a reminder of the concert and my early days of photography. Photography provided me with an entrance into the arts.
Writing in the July 17, 1976 issue of the El Paso Herald-Post, Reporter Dennis Kincaid in his column “Sounds and scene” told readers that the group’s August 15th concert at the Coliseum was to “be more electric than anything that has ever hit the Southwest.” By comparison, he stated that Alice Cooper and David Bowie were quite mellow. He had gathered this account from KISS’ press materials because in 1976, few El Pasoans had seen the band in concert. By 1976, KISS was riding high on the concert circuit, so much that Kincaid went on to say that it took “seven 45-foot tractor trailer trucks, two custom cruiser buses, a private plane and a road crew of 40 to put on the show.” Kincaid added that just three years before KISS had played their first concert as the opening act for Oyster Cult and a year later, Oyster Cult took the back seat as the band’s popularity increased.
The KISS concert even caught the attention of the late El Paso Herald-Post Art Reporter Betty Ligon, who in in her July 31, 1976 column named “Curtain Call” wrote that it would be “a show to feast your eyes on as it is for the music.” She went on to say that the band had a snow machine and that the bass player did a fire-breathing act and occasionally singed his hair.
On August 7, 1976, a photographic teaser ran in the El Paso Herald-Post Showtime entertainment supplement. The photograph featured KISS Guitarist Paul Stanley jumping in the air in full concert dress catching a football with the caption asking: “Can You Identify This Personality?” The answers were: A: A U.S. Olympic athlete; B: Tiny Tim sporting the newest 1976 spring fashions; C: A UFO pilot who is only pretending that his parachute is a football; D: A member of KISS saving a Michigan high school’s spirit; or E: A member of STAR hoping to hitch his football to one. The answer that was the caption for the photograph was: “You are right if you guessed D. Kiss, America’s hottest band, will be in El Paso Sunday, August 15th, in concert in the El Paso Coliseum.”
The KISS Destroyer Tour (the 5th tour for the band) also known as “The Spirit of ’76 Tour,” and it coincided with the United States Bicentennial (the 200th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence). The Spirit of ’76 Tour was held July 3 through September 12, 1976. The band played 34 shows as part of the tour. In Texas, the band played in Fort Worth at the Tarrant County Convention Center on August 11, 1976, in Houston at The Summit on August 8, 1976, and at the El Paso Country Coliseum on August 15, 1976. Five days later, a video of their concert was recorded in Anaheim, Calif. on August 20, 1976. In the video, like in the El Paso concert, the stage featured a towering wall of speakers with two large cats on each side of the drum set. Pyrotechnics were a large part of the close to hour-and-a-half show. In between El Paso and Anaheim, which was their most famous show of the tour, they played in Tempe, AZ on August 17th.
On February 5, 1985, KISS returned to El Paso for a concert at the Special Events Center (presently, the Don Haskins Center) as part of the “Animalize Tour” (then it toured September 30, 1984 to March 29, 1985). Their final El Paso concert on was September 19, 1990 at the Special Events Center as part of the “Hot in the Shade Tour” (that toured March 11 to November 9, 1990).
To commemorate the 40th year anniversary since the band played their first El Paso concert, I printed a photograph of KISS band member Ace Frehley as as a single-color poster in a 10 x 16 inch image on 12 x 18 inch French Paper (Muscletone Cover Construction Pure White 140#) as part of Proper Printshop’s “Art en Vivo” Print Series as a limited edition of 76 posters. The image was shot during the “Destroyer Tour,” on August 15, 1976 at the El Paso County Coliseum.
Balzar, Andreas. “The KISS Tour Dates.” Accessed 18 February 2016, http://www.kissfanshop.de/Tourdates/TourdatesHITS.htm
Kincaid, Dennis. “Sounds and scene.” El Paso Herald-Post, Saturday, July 17, 1976: Page Two.
Ligon, Betty. “Curtain Call.” El Paso Herald-Post, Saturday, July 31, 1976: Page Eight.
Meyer, Bruce. “Keeping the disco ‘soul.’ “ El Paso Herald-Post, Showtime Supplement, Saturday, August 7, 1976: Showtime, Page Three.
SpacemanaceLive. “Kiss Live in Anaheim 8/20/1976 Full Concert Destroyer Tour.” YouTube, April 30, 2014, Accessed 18 February 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQd7BksCDkI
Wikipedia. “Destroyer Tour.” January 31, 2016, Accessed 18 February 2016,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destroyer_Tour