40 Years Ago: Kiss Releases Final Original Makeup-Era Single
It's a long way between "Kyrie" and Kiss, a bit like the gap between mercy and mayhem, divinity and "Deuce." But the title track from 1982's Creatures of the Night does put the hottest band in the land just one degree of separation from "Kyrie" hitmakers Mr. Mister.
Steve Farris, who was Mr. Mister's lead guitarist from its formation that same year until 1988, also played the solo on "Creatures of the Night," which was the album's third single. He was part of a corps of players that Kiss worked with during the recording of the album, following Ace Frehley's departure from the band. Vinnie Vincent, who co-wrote three of Creatures' nine tracks, wound up getting the gig (though was pointedly never an "official" member of Kiss), while Farris was part of a core that also included Robben Ford on two tracks and reportedly other potentials such as Richie Sambora and Steve Hunter.
Farris told the Tone-Talk podcast that he was approached by "some guy" in Los Angeles who asked if he'd be interested in auditioning for Kiss. The guitarist dropped off a tape at the band's management office in Hollywood to touch base with a "completely uninterested" assistant, thinking that nothing would happen. Two weeks later he received a call from Paul Stanley asking for a formal audition at the Record Plant studio, where he had to wait in the hall for three hours while Bob Kulick went through his audition in the facility's Studio D.
Listen to Kiss' 'Creatures of the Night'
Finally, in the room, Farris was shown the song that would house "maybe the most famous solo I've ever played ... that's the second take of my audition." Stanley and Gene Simmons were pleased; so, apparently was another famous guitar player, according to Stanley in his memoir Face the Music: A Life Exposed. "Eddie Van Halen came to the studio knowing we were looking for a guitar layer," Stanley wrote. "He listened to some of the stuff we had, including a solo on the title track by Steve Farris. 'Wow, why don't you get that guy?' asked Eddie. He was blown away."
Farris, who was also working with Eddie Money as well as in the nascent Mr. Mister, seemed to be given serious consideration. He told Tone-Talk that "they said, 'Will you dye your hair black?' 'Sure.' Can you wear high heels?' 'I'll give it a try.' ... For a couple weeks I thought I might be the new guitar player." Not being a singer worked against Farris, although he noted that he has "the dubious distinction of having played 'Honky Tonk Women' with Kiss, [with] me singing lead vocal. ... I didn't hear from them again for two weeks, and then I do get a call from Paul, 'You know, we don't think you're the right guy for the band but we want to hire you to do sessions." In his book, Stanley simply maintained that "we had rehearsed with Farris, but the fit hadn't been right."
"Creatures of the Night," the song, was one of three Stanley co-wrote for the album with Adam Mitchell, a Scottish native who'd been in a band called the Paupers and had also written for Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and others before he came into the Kiss universe. He was recommended by Creatures producer Michael James Jackson and went on to co-write songs on the band's 1987 album, Crazy Nights, and 1989's Hot in the Shade.
"Adam was just a terrific songwriter," Stanley told uDiscoverMusic in 2022. "I'm not one of those people who believes that as a writer, you stay in your lane. If you're a good writer, you can write anything. Adam and I got together and knocked out a bunch of really good songs. I've always believed that there had to be a signature song for each album. Most of the time, it was a song that I would come up with. 'Love Gun,' for example, 'Detroit Rock City.' We needed a song that encapsulated and kind of gave a preview as to what the whole album was, both in terms of attitude and sonics. Adam and I wrote 'Creatures' quickly. From 'Creatures' we did 'Danger,' and we just had a ball writing."
"Creatures of the Night" was initially the B-side for Creatures of the Night's lead single, "I Love It Loud," before it was released as an A-side six months later. It was the final single from the album as well as Kiss' last single in makeup for two decades.