We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault to look back at one almighty prank war between KISS and Rush which ended in an on-stage pie fight that any travelling circus would be proud of.
Pranks between bands on tour are fairly standard behaviour. Whether it’s harmless ribbing or something a little more spectacular, the chances are, when you go on tour with another band mischief will happen. That’s certainly the fate that befell KISS and Rush when they went on the road together in 1975.
We can’t be quite sure when the pranking began between the two bands but we know the highlights. Seemingly on different ends of the rock spectrum—KISS providing rock jams built for the radio and Rush making music to lose yourself in—the two groups joined forces for a smash summer tour in 1975. By June 7th of that year, things ended in a calamitous pie fight.
In Rush: Time Stand Still guitarist Alex Lifeson opened up about what may have provoked the piefight, something they used to do on tour called ‘The Bag’. The prank was fairly simple, Lifeson would find a laundry bag, cut holes for the eyes, wear jogging bottoms as a shirt and taunt people using ‘The Bag’s own silly voice. It’s fairly childish and kind of pointless—but then again, all the best pranks are.
We can just imagine how annoying ‘The Bag’ would have been on tour. It made KISS guitarist Ace Freehly howl with laughter but one member of the group wasn’t a fan—Gene Simmons. The group’s bassist and lead singer was none too pleased with ‘The Bag’ and even stormed out of his hotel room when Lifeson brought him out to play.
It may have been why the bass player and the rest of KISS turned their pranking arsenal firmly at Rush in June 1975. According to Nothing to Lose by Ken Sharp, KISS were hellbent on causing a furore and invaded the stage as Rush were finishing their final song of the night in full KISS battle armour. They didn’t just arrive empty-handed though.
KISS arrived with handfuls of cream pies, silly string and string cheese and began launching it at Rush as they tried to perform. The drenched the stage in so many saturated fats that it became almost impossible to stand up on, with Rush bassist Geddy Lee nearly wiping out on many occasions. It made their instruments unplayable and effectively ended the set for the band.
Rush wouldn’t be defeated that easily, though. Instead, the band fought fire with cheese and bought a whole load of Limburger cheese. They put the smelly substance in front of the onstage fans that KISS used to keep cool. It meant the air was particularly pungent when the band were into their set. But Rush were not finished yet.
Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee and Neil Peart instead adopted Native American costume and began once again hurling cream pies as well as the odd rubber arrow. The evening ended in chaos as both bands were flailing on the stage. It would seem that Rush eventually had the last laugh.
“We got them back,” recalled Lifeson to Rolling Stone. The guitarist though confirmed that while the most famous clash may have seen a Rush victory, it was short-lived, “But ours was just a little battle and theirs was like a war. They really annihilated us.”
Watch Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee recall some of their crazier moments while on tour in the clip from Rush: Time Stand Still below.