The Real Reason KISS Changed Their Logo In Germany

Anybody that has spent time working in graphic design can tell you that it's notoriously easy to drop some inadvertent monstrousness into your work. You'll put hours into a project, going through draft after draft, then finally show your efforts to a friend, only for them to say "Why do all of the flowers look like genitals?" or "Why'd you draw a bodice-clad Henry Kissinger in the middle of it?" Sometimes all it takes is a pair of fresh eyes to spot the giant, potentially offensive flaws in your art.

For KISS, those eyes came in the form of the entire nation of Germany, who ever-so-gently pointed out that the band had accidentally gone and dumped the Nazi Schutzstaffel insignia at the end of their logo. Germans, pretty reasonably, are still a little touchy about the whole Third Reich chapter of the country's history, hence Section 86a of the Strafgesetzbuch penal code, which, as Time points out, prohibits the distribution, public use, import, and export of Nazi writings, memorabilia, and iconography.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kizz

The members of KISS have never been strangers to controversy or rumor, as millions of cool uncles patiently explaining that "Knights In Satan's Service" isn't a thing can attest. But the imagery in the logo is pretty on the nose, begging the question "How did a band with two famously Jewish front men wind up with something so close to a Nazi symbol on their albums?"

As the Huffington Post pointed out, the blame has generally been heaped on Ace Frehley, the band's original guitarist. He designed the band's logo, and Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have been quick to throw him under the bus for it ever since. "Ace had a fascination with Nazi memorabilia, and in his drunken stupors he and his best friend would make videotapes of themselves dressed up as Nazis," Simmons wrote in his autobiography.

Frehley denies any intentional Nazi imagery and has publicly denounced antisemitism. In any case, the distinctive double S at the end of KISS, which Frehley said was meant to represent lightning bolts rather than genocidal fascist ideology, has traditionally been replaced with a flattened backwards Z design when the band plays the Dresden circuit, especially when it comes to selling sweet, sweet merch.