KISS, the Pepper Connection – Part 1

Posted By on October 2, 2012

Since 1876, Pepper has been providing music and service to musicians and teachers everywhere.  A rather unique part of our  history, which most are not aware, is  with the rock group KISS.  Here is the first of a three-part series on this story told in a very unique manner by one of our long-term employees.

It was 1976, my cousin and I were watching TV with the rest of my twelve family members, and I was shown a new album.  It had four guys rocking out on a dimly lit stage, in what looked like clown makeup.  But they looked so cool, in the silver and black leather with guitars, I was intrigued enough to investigate further.  As I paged through the record booklet, I became even more fascinated.  “Why is there what looks like blood on this guy’s face?  And is that other guy’s guitar really SMOKING?”

After a steady diet of the Beatles, the Stones, and Top 40, I was ready for something new.  Little did I know how much this band would influence me when I was learning my craft as a guitarist.  I had begun to play at ten (I was thirteen in 1976) and was looking for something more guitar-oriented to listen to.  While at a friend’s house, we listened to this album called KISS Alive.

I saw KISS live twice after that and they were both great concerts.  Their Halloween costumes were, of course, always in KISS makeup and I used to pretend I was Paul Stanley or Ace Frehley.  I have extremely fond memories of huddling around the TV when they were on a Halloween special and being about to see them live for the first time.

When I was hired at Pepper in 1992, during a tour of the building I noticed three gold records on the wall from KISS, Dressed to Kill and Alive.  I didn’t think too much about them since I had left KISS behind as a childhood influence and had moved on to more chewable music like Frank Zappa, Rush and Yes.  But one day I asked about the gold records and found out that Pepper actually owns this series of KISS tracks.  I’m happy to say I had the presence of mind to have Dean Burtch, owner and president of J.W. Pepper and Gladwyne Music, tell me the KISS story before he passed away a few years ago.

Next:  How these tracks come into the Pepper Lore

About the author

Colin MacCarthy is a twenty year Pepper employee currently working in our Accounts Payable department. He is also a multi-instrumentalist, sound engineer, producer and small studio owner who has been making music for 40 years. He currently records original music in his well stocked home studio The Underground with his 3rd album forthcoming.


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