Written by Paul Stanley with assistance from co-writer Adam Mitchell, this song was a clear attempt to emulate the success of recent rock heroes Bon Jovi and their ilk – groups that Kiss had in some cases influenced. The result was a somewhat undignified feedback loop.
Not to say that “Crazy Crazy Nights” was a bad pop-rock song. It was just an every-band-of-the-time song, and it wasn’t what Kiss fans expected. It all sounded clean, clear and poppy, but it didn’t sound like Kiss.
Yet Stanley and others Kiss mastermind Gene Simmons charged wildly ahead.
“‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ is basically just an extension of what we’ve been doing all along, which is preaching — well, folks, we’re preaching, but we’re preaching about having a good time,” Stanley said in a backstage interview back then. The spirit of the track, he added, was about escaping the everyday prison of partying all night: “If you hate yourself in the morning, sleep late.”
Their change in musical direction was subsequently blamed on Simmons’ growing interest in a fledgling acting career, while recording began on the single’s parent album, Crazy nights. New producer Ron Nevison stepped into the creative void after already moving on Ozzy Osbourne and Heart towards more contemporary sounds – and major chart successes.
“Paul, from my recollection, wanted to make a different kind of album,” Nevison said in 2012. “You know, with the success Bon Jovi had writing with Desmond Child and other bands — I had taken Ozzy down that road with his first hit single in years, if ever, ‘Shot in the Dark’ in 1986. And of course , heart.”
Simmons referred to some “false starts” as sessions spanning two years. Nevison confirmed that Simmons arrived with 20 songs, but was not active in the aftermath.
Watch Kiss’ video for ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’
Meanwhile, Stanley was closely following Bon Jovi’s success with songs like “Livin’ on a Prayer,” which was good news for Nevison. “I wanted to get Kiss to the same level of — you know, instead of selling 500,000 to 700,000 records, which is respectable, especially these days — I wanted it to be bigger than that,” he added. Accordingly, Nevison was perfectly happy with Stanley’s new tendency towards synth-based ideas. “You know, Gene’s stuff was Gene’s stuff,” he said. “Gene wrote rock stuff … not really commercial, but Kiss fans love Gene’s songs.”
Stanley’s transformation was completed with a notable shift in his singing style. “I wasn’t actually that happy with all the keys that Paul picked,” Nevison admitted. “He would sing it as loud as he could sing it—especially ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ with the modulation. He’d get up there and there was no Auto-Tune. He wanted it that way, and the songs were written that way and demoed that way. That’s the way he wanted to do it. I went along with it, and as far as performance goes, he did a great job.”
A standard-issue 80s video for a standard-issue 80s song like “Crazy Crazy Nights” was, of course, commissioned. Kiss assembled for a stadium-themed shoot in Los Angeles after 7,000 fans were recruited via radio station KNAC.
“Most bands always go around saying, ‘Our fans are the biggest,'” enthused Stanley in the backstage interview, “but listen, there’s no other band that I know of that can go on the radio and say, ‘We do. a video, we want you there’ and laughed and lo and behold, two days later you got a packed arena.”
Stanley, Simmons, guitarist Bruce Kulick and drummer Erik Carr performed older Kiss favorites for fans between sets at the Olympic Auditorium. Everyone who attended walked away with a limited edition shirt that read, “I went crazy with Kiss.”
None of that helped “Crazy Crazy Nights” in US record stores, as the single stalled at No. 65 on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, it became their biggest hit in the UK and parts of Europe. “We see a lot of good times ahead,” Simmons said just before the launch of “Crazy Crazy Nights.”
When they released their next album, 1989’s successful return to guitar rock Hot in the Shade, Kiss had changed his mind. They hired a new manager in Larry Mazer on the premise of bring back Simmons’ rock values then began to incorporate more classic songs on the stage.
Next they would record the 1992s Revengea well-regarded comeback album that finally put this crazy, crazy period in the rearview mirror.
20 B-sides that became big hits
We focus on songs that are charted separately, rather than so-called “double A-sides.”
Ranking of each Kiss Album