July 1, 2019
Cadillac KISStory Project
P.O. Box 465
Cadillac, MI 49601
The Cadillac KISStory Project Announced
In 1975, KISS was an outrageous band from New York City on the cusp of what would later become superstardom. On the other end of the spectrum was the small northern Michigan town of Cadillac. How they came together to celebrate the Cadillac High School homecoming has been called one of the greatest stories in the history of rock and roll.
This now legendary saga has been chronicled in newspapers, magazines, book chapters, videos, television specials and social media. Still, the story only exists in these bits and pieces and has never been told in one spot from beginning to end and beyond. Until now.
Jim Neff organized the KISS visit to Cadillac in 1975. He says: “I'm launching the Cadillac KISStory Project. I want to assemble the entire tale. It's time to create the full story as told first-hand by the people who made everything happen and the students, faculty, parents and Cadillac citizens who experienced those incredible few days.”
Neff continues: “We are coming up on the 45th anniversary of Cadillac KISS in 2020. If anything, the story is more popular now than ever before. Right now, KISS is on their End of the Road Tour. At the Grand Rapids, MI concert in March, the band recognized Cadillac with a shout out and featured a dozen Cadillac photos projected on a giant video screen above the stage. Clearly, Cadillac is considered a major part of KISS lore.”
In 2015 Cadillac unveiled the only KISS Monument in the world. KISS fans from all over the country come to Cadillac to see the Monument and to experience a KISStory Tour walk. The Cadillac KISStory Project will enhance that experience.
“I want to assemble an archive of personal stories and photos from students, parents, teachers, Cadillac citizens and KISS fans. I am interested in every nook and cranny of Cadillac KISStory. If it relates to Cadillac KISS, I want it. I've been telling my story for 45 years and now it's time for my story to become our story.”
More information is on Neff's personal Cadillac KISS website. There, the project is explained in detail and formats for submitting stories and photos are available. Also on the site are Cadillac KISS related videos, articles from around the world, photos and features. Go to: www.neffcadillackiss.com.
ODD KISS MEMORABILIA
Here is an odd bit of KISS memorabilia sent to me by a former student. From October 2018, this comic has the KISS Cadillac firehouse photo on the cover. However, the inside "story" in the comic has nothing to do with Cadillac (and Cadillac is never mentioned as the source of the cover photo).
The story: "KISS returns to rock'n'roll and save the world! An immortal cabal is taking the lives of innocents and the only ones who can stop them are KISS! The only problem…they are dead. And now they have to make a deal with a demon to save their souls and return to Earth to fight evil!"
JOHN LAURENT PASSES AWAY -- Cadillac High Principal in 1975
(Cadillac, MI – August 11, 2018) – John Laurent passed away on Friday, August 10, 2018. This marks a sad day in the history of the KISS Cadillac story. John was the Cadillac High School principal in 1975 when KISS came to Cadillac. He was instrumental in the decision making that led to the visit and became a legendary figure in the continuing story over the years. Without John's support the 1975 appearance of KISS in Cadillac would never have taken place.
KISS Cadillac fans will remember two of John's favorite remembrances of the KISS visit. In one he remarked about his efforts to unite different groups within the student body. He stated: “I had been trying to bring the student body together for a couple of years. KISS did that in one day.”
John is also remembered for a request he made before the 1975 concert. Knowing that Cadillac was a conservative town, he asked Gene Simmons to drop the blood spitting segment of the show. “Gene,” he said, “could you leave out the blood?” To which Gene replied: “Anything you want, John. No blood.”
John Laurent was 86 and was a KISS fan. More than that, he was a KISStory legend.
KISS Online published a Laurent tribute on August 15, 2018. KISS said: "We were saddened to learn of the recent passing of our friend John Laurent. Our deepest condolences and thoughts go to his family in these difficult times." Read it at KISSOnline.com.
TV 9&10 News did a great video tribute to John Laurent. Watch it here...
BILL SMITH PASSES AWAY -- UNSUNG HERO OF THE KISS CADILLAC LEGACY
Sad news for KISS fans. William Smith has passed away. Bill was the Superintendent of Cadillac Schools when KISS came to Cadillac in 1975 and played a major role in the KISS Cadillac legacy. He had the ultimate authority to approve or reject the plan to bring KISS to Cadillac. Bill's “yes” opened the way for one of the greatest stories in the history of Rock and Roll and a touchstone of KISStory. Smith (in a plaid sportcoat) is seen here with Peter Criss and at the civic breakfast with KISS.
KISSercise -- October 1, 2016 CADILLAC NEWS NEFF ZONE COLUMN
Get a step-by-step description of the Cadillac KISStory Tour route. Read here...
This mural is on the wall at KISS by Monster Mini golf at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
The players depicted ar #44 Dave Schemmel, #74 Dave Hagstrom, and #61 Sam Siddall.
NEFF NAMED VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR BY CADILLAC AREA VISITORS BUREAU
The Volunteer of the Year Awards are bestowed upon individuals who offer their passion and time to assist, and sometimes lead the way, to offer festivals, activities and administrative support to further the missions of the respective organizations.
Jim Neff, a retired CAPS teacher, journalist and our ‘When Cadillac was KISSed’ connection was recognized as the 2016 CAVB Volunteer of the Year. During the introduction by Joy VanDrie, Executive Director of the CAVB, she said, “We want to make sure ‘This guy’ fully understands the gratitude we have for his continued support in bringing a ‘crazy bunch’ of visitors to our community.” Citing his involvement and leadership of initially bringing KISS to Cadillac in 1975, managing the relationship with the band and management team, several Kiss Tribute Band concerts over the years, personal Kiss Fan Tours, the assistance in design of the permanent Kiss Monument, and helping spearhead the Kiss Cadillac Homecoming Event. He continues to work with the CAVB staff to keep them abreast of the related news and updates from the band and fans around the world.
Not exactly a KISS story, but it's not often that you get to meet a Michigan Rock legend. Donny Hartman, an inductee in the Detroit Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, played Cadillac's Freedom Festival.
I have been a huge fan of Hartman's since his days in the 1960s-1970s with the Michigan super group, The Frost. I saw The Frost many times in the Flint area. Hartman has also played with Pink Floyd, Joe Walsh, Allman Bros., Golden Earring, Three Dog Night, The Supremes, Moody Blues, Fleetwood Mac,
Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, B.B. King, Joe Cocker, and many more.
Getting to watch this legend perform and also getting to finally meet him was a big thrill.