New York hard rockers Kiss are a lot of things. Over the top rock icons who almost singlehandedly elevated shock rock to a stadium-sized extravaganza? Definitely. Pioneers in breaking down rock music to its most basic elements, including power chords, harmonies, and songs about getting laid? Sure. Shameless hucksters who were equally obsessed with selling you any piece of merchandise that they could slap their painted faces and lightning bolt logo onto? Maybe a bit harsh, but not untrue.
But Kiss were most assuredly not copiers. Thanks to the unique lead guitar style of Ace Frehley and the maximalist image that they developed, Kiss were a complete entity unto themselves. After a goofy meta take on Bobby Rydell’s ‘Kissin’ Time’ from their debut, the band completely excised covers from their repertoire, preferring to strike out on their own through the poetic verses of ‘Ladies Room’ and ‘Christine Sixteen’. Love Gun once again saw another meta piss take with the band’s cover of The Crystals’ doo-wop classic ‘Then He Kissed Me’, but these covers were purposefully avoiding the influences that made Kiss the hottest band in the world.
That was up until the 1979’s Dynasty came along. By this point, Kiss were appealing as much to children as they were to horny adults. Kiss-mania hit its logical endpoint in 1978 when the band released four solo albums on the same day and starred in the TV movie Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. It seemed impossible for Kiss to be too big and too ridiculous, but they somehow pulled it off. The film was a dud that made the band a laughingstock, and the group were (mostly) eager to reconnect with their rock and roll guts on Dynasty. The only problem was that drummer Peter Criss was both recovering from a car crash and lost in a haze of drug and alcohol addiction, rendering him incapable of performing drum parts or singing vocals.
In his place, Frehley stepped up by contributing three songs to the album, the most he had ever sung. Two were originals, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Save Your Love’, but the album’s second track was a souped up rocker called ‘2000 Man’. While Paul Stanley was pushing the band towards disco on ‘I Was Made for Lovin’ You’, Frehley snapped them right back to their hard rock origins. But ‘2000 Man’ wasn’t penned by the Space Ace. In fact, it was a track from one of Frehley’s major influences, The Rolling Stones.
Despite the fact that the Stones helped invent the bluesy hard rock that Frehley would adopt for himself, ‘2000 Man’ is not one of the band’s heavier songs. It appeared on the psychedelic Their Satanic Majesties Request, with the first half being an acoustic folk tune and the latter half being an explosion of organ-heavy rock. It’s indicative of the band’s highly experimental leanings at the time, but the song never really caught on in the band and it has never been performed live. It likely would have been lost to time had Frehley not dug it up and cranked up the distortion.
‘2000 Man’ became Frehley’s alternate lead vocal performance in concert when he didn’t want to perform ‘Shock Me’, and it quickly took over as a fan favourite until Frehley left the band in 1982. To prove how deeply Frehley was associated with the song, the band performed it at their 1996 Unplugged concert when they welcomed Frehley and Criss back to the stage for the first time in 15 years. ‘2000 Man’ represents one of the rare times where another artist actually outdid the Stones at their own game, and Frehley has continued to bust out the memorable cover during his solo tours.
Check out both versions of ‘2000 Man’ down below.