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Kiss Destroyer Tour 1976
©Copyright Mark Ravitz
KISS had met with huge commercial and financial success in late 1975 with their live concert album ALIVE. They had earned a reputation with America’s teens as having outdone Alice Cooper with the wildest stage show around, which featured Peter Criss’s levitating drums, Gene Simmons blood spitting and fire breathing, and Ace Frehley’s smoking guitar. All accompanied by explosions, smoke, and 20 foot tall flame throwers. See Photo Below of their 1975 Alive Tour Set:
For their next tour supporting their new album Destroyer, they had a larger budget and they wanted to raise the bar, something KISS would consistently do for the next 35 years. Ditching some of their longtime road crew in favor of seasoned professionals, the Destroyer tour took its design from the album artwork and featured a burned out apocalyptic city as the theme. Based on their success not only on broadway but with their crossover work with David Bowie and the Rolling Stones , The Jules Fischer Organization was hired to produce the stage. Mark Ravitz was hired to freelance this design, as Jules had been his professor during his time at the NYU theatrical design program. ”The idea being that different portions of the stage would thematically correspond to a different band member’s stage persona.” (from Kiss Alive Forever) It featured a multi-level design that had 8′ x 3′ platforms on top of the guitar amps and steps that descended from them to the main stage, a theme that would continue though 1980 in various forms. On either side of the drum riser, covering the large stack of guitar amps were theatrical flats that looked like destroyed buildings. See theblueprint here.
Foam pieces that could ”crumble” off were attached to the flats but were also dropped due to the time it took to clean them off stage. On the drum riser on either side were two large 6′ cats with glowing green eyes that were themed with Peter Criss’s ”Catman” persona.
©Copyright Mark Ravitz
Above Photo: Richard Galbraith
At the end of the show, the drum riser would elevate on a scissor lift that was hidden from view by a giant scrim with a snarling cat emblazoned on it. See the blueprints here.
Flanking either side of the stage were raised platforms that were accessed via stairs. Ace Frehley’s raised platform resembled a lunar mountain and on which he would solo from atop of. Gene Simmons raised platform was designed to look like an old gothic castle
from which a bloody stake that would rise up as he did his spitting blood routine. Mark Ravitz shared this this blueprint for the stake that would also spew fog from preforated holes at the top of it.
The spectacle can be seen from this video taken at Cobo Hall Detroit in January of 1977:
Behind and on either side of the stage were three electrical towers, that Ravitz had designed to look like the numerous towers that were on the New Jersey Freeways. They acted as light towers from which par cans and spotlights were mounted and from which KISS Army banners would drop at the end of the show.
The towers had chaser lights that looked like christmas lights that connected them and ran out into the balcony of the arena. As seen in the model to the left the floor was covered in a design that looked like a lunar surface on Ace Frehley’s side of the stage, and parched, cracked earth on Gene Simmons’ side.
©Copyright Mark Ravitz
Frontman Paul Stanley had initially been designed a multi-colored jewel encrusted area at the front center of the stage that can be seen in the photos of the model. However, according to Ravitz, the band was unhappy with it and upon first seeing it at dress rehearsals, destroyed it while the tech crew looked on in shock. The front center area also featured a ramp that descended slightly towards the audience but that was removed after the first several shows.
Here is a rare photo of it:
Hanging above the set were several large clouds and lighting bolts that hid confetti machines behind them and also acted as a video screen, one of the first uses of the then-brand new technology that is now commonplace at all arena sized shows. Ravitz designed the lighting bolts to mimic the S’s in the KISS logo and had them painted red, white, and blue in honor of America’s 1976 bicentenial that summer. A blueprint of the clouds and thunderbolts can be seen here.