Kiss – Detroit Rock City

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Kiss – The meaning of Detroit Rock City


Kiss rebranded the band with “Motor City” in 1976 with their song “Detroit Rock City.” While “Detroit” certainly has its automotive origins, by the time the ’70s rolled around rock music was free-flowing out of that corner of the world. The likes of Grand Funk, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Suzi Quatro, and Ted Nugent were all stewards of the “Detroit sound.”

While on the surface, Kiss’ song seems to be paying tribute to that legacy, below the surface lies something darker. Do you know the story behind Kiss’ “Detroit Rock City?”

Behind the Meaning
In its first iteration, the track was written as an ode to the Detroit music scene. When producer Bob Ezrin heard the demo, he helped Paul Stanley mold it into something deeper.

Though much of their music at this time has a laser focus on hedonism
(No, it dosen’t mean “It won’t lick itself”, but close. Hedonism -‘the ethical theory that pleasure (in the sense of the satisfaction of desires is the highest good and proper aim of human life’.),

Can I get a “HELL YAAAAAA”!!

The lyrics from “Detroit Rock City” tell the story of a young fan who was killed in a car accident on their way to a Kiss concert. Despite the amped-up beat, the song has a somber meaning.

Stanley once said, “There had been an accident outside of an arena in Charlotte. Someone was killed coming to the concert. I thought, how odd and how striking, and the juxtaposition of someone coming to a Kiss concert, which celebrates being alive, to lose your life. That was the twist of ‘Detroit Rock City.’ To change it from a song about your amazing city to something much more epic.”

The version of the song on Destroyer opens with a crackling news story about the tragedy before the sound of an engine revving up takes over. After our titular character gets in the car, the lyrics kick in and we start to hear the story unravel.

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Last updated 11/16/2022

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