Kiss realized the power of merch from day one. At an industry coming-out party before they even had a record deal, band members made their own Kiss glitter T-shirts and made sure their female fans were wearing them in the front row.

Today, Kiss continues its reign among the merchandising elite—for decades, Kiss fans have been there, done that and got the T-shirts. As well as the mugs, comic books, condoms and coffins. Live Nation Merchandise, which oversees the band's merch and licensing business, says Kiss grossed more than $500 million in the past 35 years—more than any other rock band when tour merch, retail licensing, online and international sales are combined.

"There are four or five huge artists in rock merchandise: the Beatles, Kiss, AC/DC, the Rolling Stones and then sometimes it's Pink Floyd or Bob Marley," says Dell Furano, CEO of Live Nation Merchandise. Perhaps making the ubiquity of the band's merch even more impressive, Kiss' catalog album sales and touring revenue don't match competitors like the Beatles, AC/DC or the Stones.

So what do these top band brands have in common? "They're all a little bit different, but what they have in common is great artwork, great logos and their music goes from generation to generation to generation," Furano says. "We sell as many kids' shirts and toddler shirts as anything."

With Kiss, the focus on merchandising began...

Click here for the full story including details of the deal with Wal-Mart, the items the band considers off limits to sell to fans, and more.