Kiss Of Death

Album: Back For The Attack (1987)

Songfacts®:

  • The "kiss of death" is AIDS, which was stigmatized and widely misunderstood in 1987 when the song was released. Many believed it was isolated to the gay community, but anyone having unprotected sex was at risk, and one of the biggest risk pools was rock stars. This song describes a one-off romp that transmits the disease.
  • In a Songfacts interview with lead singer Don Dokken, he explained how this song came together. "I wrote that right after I heard about AIDS," he said. "My uncle actually came down with AIDS – he died of AIDS. People were talking about AIDS, and when it first came out, it was more of a gay thing. So, we were like, 'We're not going to get it. We're not gay. It's a homosexual disease.' And it took a few years for people to realize that anybody could get it."

    Mick [Dokken drummer Mick Brown] made a comment one night. I said, 'You should be more careful about what you're doing. Use a condom.' And he said something to the effect of, 'I'm not going to get AIDS. I only sleep with good-looking chicks.' And I said, 'I don't think the disease cares what the person looks like, Mick.' I thought it was a stupid thing for him to say.

    So, it was about being on the road and one-night stands."
  • The credited writers on this track are Don Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, and bass player Jeff Pilson. Running 5:51, it opens their fourth album, Back For The Attack, the band's third straight million-seller. By this time, Lynch was in the top tier of metal guitarists; "Kiss Of Death" is dominated by his riffs and solo - the vocals don't come in until a minute into the song.

    Unfortunately for Dokken, they weren't enjoying their success because they were constantly on the road and battling with each other. They called it quits in 1989 and didn't release another album until 1995, missing out on some peak metal years.

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