Kiss and The Three Stooges are a pair of legendary groups who have little in common — or do they? Oddly enough, one of Kiss’ biggest hits was inspired by a short film starring The Three Stooges. Gene Simmons admitted the finished song was much different from what he initially envisioned.
How a Three Stooges short inspired the hook of a Kiss song
There’s a handful of prominent comedy rock bands out there, but Kiss aren’t one of them. Despite this, they still took inspiration from The Three Stooges, one of Hollywood’s most legendary comedy troupes. Specifically, the book Encyclopedia of Kiss reports they were inspired by The Three Stooges’ short Men in Black — not to be confused with the Will Smith film of the same name.
In Men in Black, a voice over an intercom says “Calling Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine.” The line inspired the title of Kiss’ song “Calling Dr. Love,” which is repeatedly used as a hook. In addition, you can hear someone who appears to be talking over an intercom say “calling Dr. Love” in the song. “Weird Al” Yankovic referenced the same line from Men in Black in the video for his song “Like a Surgeon.”
Why Gene Simmons didn’t like the final version of ‘Calling Dr. Love’
According to Kiss: Behind the Mask – The Official Authorized Biography, the demo of “Calling Dr. Love” was a collaboration between Simmons and three other musicians. Only later did Simmons record the song with his band.
“I cut the demo with me playing guitar and Katey Sagal singing harmony,” Simmons recalled. “I found Katey in a trio, the Group with No Name. They recorded an album for Casablanca Records. So it was Gene Simmons with three girls singing. That was the original idea behind ‘Calling Dr. Love.’”
Simmons was dissatisfied with the finished version of “Calling Dr. Love” because he didn’t think it was as good as the demo. Ace Frehley, however, had some kind words for the song. He liked his guitar solo on the track.
How other musicians and the public reacted to ‘Calling Dr. Love’
Frehley is not alone, as Vice reports Buzz Osbourne of the Melvins and Adam Zaars of Tribulation consider the solo on “Calling Dr. Love” their favorite of Frehley’s solos. Interestingly, Zaars said he never would have become a guitarist if not for Frehley.
So “Calling Dr. Love” resonated with some musicians — but did it resonate with the public? According to Billboard, “Calling Dr. Love” reached No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1979. It was one of only seven Kiss songs to reach the top 20 of the chart. Kiss later included a rendition of the song on their live album Alive II. “Calling Dr. Love” became one of Kiss’ most famous hits and a staple of their live shows — even though it’s not what Simmons wanted it to be.