When John Downs Jr. was 17, he and his brother drove from their home in Charleston to Columbia, where they squeezed into the top row of the Carolina Coliseum and watched his favorite rock band — KISS.
Downs’ love affair with the band, known for its costumes, face paint, pyrotechnics and masterful marketing, has lasted more than four decades. In those years Downs, a Charleston business owner, has amassed a collection of KISS memorabilia that includes guitars, photographs, original artwork and costumes.
And that collection now belongs to the University of South Carolina.
Downs and his wife, Margaret Norris Downs, offered the more than 400-piece collection to University Libraries after learning of the university’s acquisition of the Gary Lee Watson Comic Book Collection.
he collection is comprised of approximately 400 items, including:
- 26 guitars, originally owned and signed by members of the band
- Concert photographs by Len DeLessio
- Early black-and-white signed photographs
- Original artwork by Paul Stanley, KISS guitarist and a founding member of the band
- Concert memorabilia, including backstage passes
Rock On! KISS Collection Comes to University of South Carolina Libraries
Filed by September 21, 2021on