- Written by Mark Savage
- BBC music correspondent
When rock band Kiss played their final farewell concert in New York this weekend, it ended with a gesture that would ensure their digital immortality.
When they left the stage at Madison Square Garden, the band was replaced by a flying avatar that launched into the hit song God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You.
The technology, originally developed for the Abba Voyage show, will allow them to remain on the road in retirement.
Gene Simmons said the band could now be “forever young and forever creative”.
Singer Paul Stanley added: “What we accomplished was amazing, but it is not enough. The band deserves to continue because it is bigger than us.”
“It’s exciting for us to take the next step and see a timeless kiss.”
The avatars were designed by George Lucas’ visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and financed by Swedish company Pophouse Entertainment, which is co-owned by Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus.
The two companies previously collaborated on the Abba Voyage show, which recreates Abba’s 1970s-era concert in a specially designed London arena. The show generates an estimated £2 million a week.
However, it seems unlikely that Kiss’s avatars will be as anchored in reality as Abba’s digital replicas. The New York figures were 8 feet tall, breathing fire and shooting electricity from their fingers, while floating above the audience.
“These four individuals truly have superpowers,” said Per Sundin, CEO of Pophouse. “We want to be as open as possible.”
The digital characters were created from data captured during the band’s performance in motion capture suits earlier this year.
However, Kiss is yet to reveal their plans for the avatars.
“We’ll find out after the tour,” Sundin said. “Is it a future kiss party? Is it a rock opera? Is it a musical? A story or an adventure?”
Known for their eye-catching makeup and stunning performances, Kiss became one of the biggest rock bands of the 1970s and 1980s.
Their hits include Rock And Roll All Nite, Black Diamond, I Was Made For Lovin’ You, and Crazy Crazy Nights.
They undertook their first farewell tour in 2001, but regularly return to the road – with the current lineup featuring founders Stanley and Simmons alongside guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer.
It is not believed that former members such as Peter Criss and Ace Frehley will be part of the Avatar shows.
Last summer, Simons, 74, said that Kiss might continue after their last concert in ways that “even I didn’t think about.”
This included the proposal to recruit a brand new band to cover and play Kiss’s greatest hits.
“I have no problem with four 20-year-old girls who deserve to wear makeup again and hide their identity,” he said.
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