Known as 'the hottest band in the land,' KISS – originally comprised of bassist Gene Simmons, guitarists Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley, and drummer Peter Criss, all lead singers and songwriters – was formed in New York City over 45 years ago in early 1973. Currently embarking on its End Of The Road farewell tour, KISS is still playing arenas, stadiums, major festivals, and even underwater for sharks all these decades later. Having been covered by the likes of Nirvana, Garth Brooks, Cher and the cast of Glee alike, few bands have been more influential than KISS.

As the original lineup of KISS was comprised of New Yorkers, some of whom have residential history in New Jersey, there is plenty of KISS history – KISStory? – to experience around the New York metro area. Below are 10 spots you can visit to learn more about the roots of Gene, Paul, Peter and/or Ace.

The exterior of the Ed Sullivan Theater shows a vast overhanging marquee with large-bulb theater lights on the underside and The Late Show lit up in red serif letters on the front. Large square planters that double as traffic bollards sit between the street and the entrance, where pedestrians stroll past a neon sign for Angelo's Pizza inside the theater.
KISS has a long history of performing on-air at the storied Ed Sullivan Theater © Darren Paltrowitz / Lonely Planet

Ed Sullivan Theater

Few New York City spots hold as much pop culture history as the Ed Sullivan Theater, located on Broadway between 53rd and 54th Street. It's the site where The 'Ed Sullivan Show' was filmed, where The Beatles changed the course of history with their February 9, 1964 appearance, and which all of the members of KISS have gone on-record to say had a big, big impact. The theater is also where the 'Late Show With David Letterman' – on which members of KISS have performed many times – and the 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' have filmed.

The rainbow-hued entrance of the famous Record Plant studio in New York City, which looks like a floor-to-ceiling watercolor of layered oil paints in shades of mint and teal, yellow and rust, and even deep black. In a white square to the left side of the graphic, transparent letters that show the paint motif beneath read The Plant: 321W44
The Record Plant was a hugely influential studio, used not only by KISS, but also Jimi Hendrix, the New York Dolls, Aerosmith, and others © Darren Paltrowitz / Lonely Planet

The Record Plant

A recording studio based at 321 West 44th Street, The Record Plant was established in 1968. It is currently the site of the New York Observer newspaper. Beyond key recordings by John Lennon, Aerosmith, Cyndi Lauper, Guns N' Roses and Bruce Springsteen, KISS recorded some of its classic albums there, including 1975’s Destroyer, 1977’s Love Gun and 1979’s Dynasty.

Related content: 

Where to travel based on your taste in music
9 museums for music lovers across the US

The yellow brick buildings at the corner of 23rd and 8th in New York City glow golden in the afternoon light, overlooking a subway station where a man is leaning on the railing, an out-of-service blue bus, and a row of black cars parallel parked on the street
Some of KISS' most famous songs were on the Dressed To Kill album, the cover of which was shot on this street corner close to both their rehearsal loft and the infamous Chelsea Hotel © Darren Paltrowitz / Lonely Planet

Corner of 23rd and 8th

The third studio album by KISS, 1975's Dressed To Kill was not an immediate hit upon release. However, it is the album from which the KISS classics 'Rock And Roll All Nite,' 'C'mon And Love Me' and 'She' came from. Its album cover was shot on the southwest corner of 23rd Street and 8th Avenue with all four original members in tow, famously wearing borrowed suits with their iconic makeup.

A classic New York City street lined with brick buildings and fire escapes in the Flatiron District. A maroon awning reads Natural Deli in white rounded letters in the foreground, while in the background there is a sign for a McDonald's
This unassuming address in New York's Flatiron district was rehearsal space for KISS in the early years of the band © Darren Paltrowitz / Lonely Planet

10 East 23rd Street

Crosstown from where the album cover of Dressed To Kill was shot, 10 East 23rd Street may look like your average building in the Flatiron District, but it was instrumental within the early history of KISS. While conflicting information is out there with regards to timelines, it has been reported that both its 2nd and 4th floors served as rehearsal spaces for the band, as nicknamed 'the KISS Loft.'

54 Bleecker Street Loft

Another loft that was influential within the early days of KISS, the 54 Bleecker Street Loft – as found on the 8th floor – was where the band played on a bill with other artists for the first time. Producer Eddie Kramer was in attendance at this May 1973 outing, which was reportedly the first Manhattan performance of KISS.

The silver metal clad facade of the Bank of America Tower service entrances, which have a different address than the hotel itself.
KISS fans unfortunately can't visit the Hotel Diplomat where the band were first discovered, but they can pay a visit to the Bank of America Tower that was built on the same site, although it doesn't share the old structure's former address © Darren Paltrowitz

Bank of America Tower

Much of the early success of the band KISS can be attributed to its first manager, Bill Aucoin. Aucoin first saw the quartet perform live at the Hotel Diplomat, then located at 108 West 43rd Street, which convinced him to take on KISS as a client. The hotel has since been knocked down and is currently known as the Bank Of America Tower. Those looking closely at the building may notice that it doesn't share an address with the hotel that once stood here. The official address for the building is One Bryant Park, while its service entrances are for 106 West 43rd and 110 West 43rd.

The bright lights of Madison Square Garden advertise a Misfits concert with Rancid over a line of taxi cabs in the street.
Madison Square Garden is far more famous than the 24 hour Jewish deli where Paul Stanley sometimes liked to get matzo ball soup after a show © Darren Paltrowitz / Lonely Planet

Sarge's Deli

One of the first prominent hard rock bands with known Jewish roots – Paul Stanley was born Stanley Eisen, while Gene Simmons was originally Chaim Witz before changing his name to Gene Klein – it was never out of the question that some of its members knew where to find some great soup. Located at 548 Third Avenue, or 36th & 3rd, Stanley referenced Sarge’s Deli on page 169 of his 2014 memoir 'Face The Music'. Said Stanley: “After the first two [Madison Square Garden] gigs, the other guys met up with family and friends; I found myself sitting alone at Sarge’s Deli on Third Avenue and 36th Street eating a bowl of matzo ball soup.” Sarge’s Deli is about a 10-minute walk from Madison Square Garden, a legendary venue which has been home to many KISS performances.

The Electric Lady Studios exterior entrance is quite unassuming, with a swinging door with an ovular, mirror-reflective window in a light purple tone with a sign reading "Electric Lady Studios" in a futuristic font
Destroyer, Dynasty, and Asylum were three of the KISS albums recorded at Jimi Hendrix's famous Electric Lady Studios in the Village © Darren Paltrowitz / Lonely Planet

Electric Lady Studios

A recording studio built by Jimi Hendrix after years as a Greenwich Village nightclub, Electric Lady Studios – located at 52 West 8th Street – was opened in 1970 and remains a popular recording studio to this date. Among the many icons who recorded at Electric Lady were the Beastie Boys, U2, AC/DC, Taylor Swift, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Weezer and Bob Dylan. KISS did recording for at least three albums at Electric Lady, which was also the site of the Van Halen demos that Gene Simmons produced.

The exterior door to the apartment where Mike Viola once lived is a mix of architectural styles, with wood grain paneling on the exterior, square Corinthian columns, metal security gates, and glass windows.
This door leads to apartments which have been home to more than one famous musician over the years, including Mike Viola, who was such a big fan of KISS he wrote the ode "KISS Alive II," as well as rocker Russell Simins © Darren Paltrowitz

279 East 10th Street

Singer/songwriter Mike Viola – also a renowned producer and A&R executive – previously resided in Apartment B of 279 East 10th Street. Viola's former home, which later became a Juice Press store, was where he wrote the song 'KISS Alive II' and many other Candy Butchers staples. The building was also the home of former Jon Spencer Blues Explosion drummer Russell Simins, who has no known relation to Gene Simmons.

East Hanover, New Jersey's Nielsen Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram Car Dealership

Original lead guitarist Ace Frehley may not be along for the End Of The Road tour, but he has been keeping busy with touring and solo albums in recent years. In September 2019, Frehley and band infamously performed at the Nielsen Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram Car Dealership – located at 175 NJ-10 – in East Hanover, New Jersey. The location is also home to the Franklin Sussex Auto Mall's annual Beach Party Savings Bash. 

Get more travel inspiration, tips and exclusive offers sent straight to your inbox with our weekly newsletter.

Explore related stories

Caucasian man walking on rocks near the lighthouse on San Juan Island, Washington

The best weekend getaways in the US

Mar 23, 2023 • 12 min read