Wouldn’t it be awesome to time travel? You know, be able to go back in time to live or relive a certain event or moment in time. Or, to be a fly on the wall and be able witness the same event through someone else’s experience?
Author Ken Sharp is the closest thing we have to a time machine. He’s made his name writing amazing books about a moment in time. He is the author of Starting Over: The Making of John Lennon & Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy and Elvis: Vegas ’69 (about The King’s return to the stage) and others. He’s also a huge KISS fan and has worked with the band for years. In 2003, he and David Leaf authored the only authorized biography of the band (KISS: Behind the Mask). Now, he’s partnered with original members Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons and spent the last several years to build what many will consider to be a definitive work covering the band’s formative years (1972-1975).
Sharp’s strength is his style. He lets the people who were involved tell the story. What you get with Nothin’ to Lose is a multi-perspective view of how KISS became the hottest band in the world. Included here is the story of the band’s first three years, as told by the four original members, managers (including the late Bill Aucoin), record execs (including the late Neil Bogart), agents, producers, road crew, friends, fans, peers and bands they played with and/or opened for along the way … many of whom they leap frogged over very quickly as they continued to drive towards superstardom.
“My interest in doing it is I love the oral history format,” said Sharp. “I’ve done that before. I love that format it’s really like a documentary on paper. You can really focus in on a time and place by drawing in a lot of different voices. And that’s what I think is really unique about the KISS book … obviously there’s a lot of stories. I can’t change what happened to them, with their history, but what I can do is contextualize it with, not only the band, but many other voices from people that were there. For me it really helped broaden and expand the story in a really, really fascinating way.”
This book does not read like a KISS commercial. To Stanley’s and Simmon’s credit, it does not appear that they censored anyone, including themselves. The quotes in the book and the recollections of those involved can be incredibly personal, if also at times contradictory. But, the thing that really resonates is that 40+ years after the fact, the reader still gets a sense of the hunger and the ambition that drove the band to success. That’s not an easy feat to pull off and kudos to Sharp for being able to effectively transport his interviewees back to the day/situation and for having the wherewithal to capture that raw emotion. For the fan, it means everything.