Acclaimed rock photographer Mark Bowman has spent over four decades chronicling priceless onstage and backstage moments from some of the genre's biggest legends, including Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty and the Who. He's been kind enough to share never-before seen photos of Kiss in action both in 1975 at Houston and 1977 in Denver with us today, along with his memories of what it was like to watch the band rise to fame in the mid-'70s. You can check out much more of Mark's excellent work at

I first became aware of Kiss as they released their first three albums to mixed reaction in the early '70s. What little of their music I heard back then was under-produced and didn’t really have much of an impact on me. It wasn’t until I picked up a copy of 1975’s Alive! that I saw the power and the glory of what this band was capable of. They made a great decision by having Eddie Kramer, the engineer of all those early Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix albums, help them create a thorough representation of their live set.

When I first got a copy of Alive!, I played it constantly. It’s one of the most energetic and visceral rock documents of the era. I was lucky enough to witness the Kiss Alive! show in November 1975 at the Sam Houston Coliseum, and take photos with my trusty Kodak 110 Instamatic right in front of Ace Frehley on a chair from the front row. The first six photos in the above gallery are never-before-seen shots of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Ace from their 1975 Kiss Alive! set in Houston.

Even though they had long since acquired a reputation of blowing every band off the stage that preceded them or followed them, once Kiss had successfully achieved headliner status, they felt they had to kick it up a notch. This is the precise point in any successful band’s career that provides that “fork in the road” – the choice that becomes the fulcrum point which propels them higher or locks them into a “niche” into the minds of the public.  Kiss decided to take their next step and go for the moon.

By this time, I was living in Colorado. I caught up with the Rock and Roll Over tour as it made its way into McNichols Arena. Known as the Big Mac, it was promoter Barry Fey’s long-since torn down, personal playpen in Denver – and site of many incredible rock concerts over the years. I sat on the 10th row for this gig with my used 35mm camera, hoping to capture the grandiosity of Kiss' massively upgraded stage and set. I was particularly happy to see Frehley play those killer guitar solos live, and he is one of my favorite guitarists to this day.

Here are my never published photos from the Rock and Roll Over Tour on Jan. 15, 1977 at McNichols Arena in Denver. Forty years since Destroyer, wow. Kiss, you’ve come a long way!

Kiss Albums Ranked Worst to Best