When Kiss Joined a Michigan High School’s Homecoming Celebration
Maybe you had a cool homecoming dance. But you were never Kiss-played-my-homecoming-dance cool – that is, unless you were one of the lucky attendees at Michigan's Cadillac High on Oct. 9, 1975.
Kiss played the homecoming concert after meeting with the Cadillac Vikings football squad and participating in the school parade. The band had been following the squad since word arrived that the slumping team had begun listening to Kiss as part of its pre- and post-game rituals. Appropriately inspired, the Vikings then went on a tear, winning seven straight games as they marched to a conference co-championship.
"When we first received the letter and heard the plight of the team, and how things turned around, it was the early part of Kiss defining itself," co-founder Paul Stanley would later remember. "We became defined by our fans. What had happened [in Cadillac] was so intriguing. We said, 'Ah, hell, let's go there.'"
As the team's early losses piled up, head coach Dave Brines turned to assistant coach Jim Neff for inspiration, and it was Neff who made the fateful decision to play Kiss. "We were looking for something to lighten the atmosphere, and playing rock 'n' roll in the locker room before practices and games was suggested," Neff said. "I chose a new and outrageous band: Kiss. They were wild, bold and loud. Plus, their name invoked an old football credo: Keep it simple, stupid. It was a match that was meant to be."
There's even been talk of a feature-length movie about Kiss' once-in-a-lifetime performance.
In 2015, Cadillac High commemorated the 40th anniversary of their visit by unveiling a special memorial. The midnight black granite monument more than eight feet tall, five feet wide and weighs 5,000 pounds.
Stanley says the band, even with its status as Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, is deeply humbled by the gesture. "To have a monument commemorating our visit and the impact we had, it's never lost on me," Stanley told WKLT, the city's local radio station. "Cadillac, Michigan. I smile as soon as I say it. It's a magical time."