But a more accepted story says that in 1973, band co-founders Paul Stanley and drummer Peter Criss were driving in New York City when Criss mentioned that he’d been in a band called Lips. This inspired Stanley, and he came up with the name KISS.
A logo was drawn up in which the “SS” resembled lightning bolts, and then the name was handwritten over the band’s name at the time — Wicked Lester — on a poster outside of a club.
The stylization of the “SS” resembled the insignia of the Nazi SS, which is illegal to display in Germany. So, the logo was eventually modified to look like a “ZZ” on band merchandise sold in Germany.
This point carries special significance because band leader Gene Simmons’ mother is a Holocaust survivor.
In the 1960s, he changed his name yet again. This time he chose Gene Simmons to honor rockabilly performer Jumpin’ Gene Simmons. Jumpin’ Gene was born in Mississippi and at one point performed as an opening act for Elvis Presley.