Condoleezza Rice 'Thrilled' After Meeting KISS Band Members

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Condoleezza Rice may be a top diplomat who once aspired to being a concert pianist but she let her hair down a bit in Stockholm to meet the flamboyant rock group KISS.

"I was thrilled," a beaming U.S. secretary of state told reporters Friday after meeting lead singer Gene Simmons and his three band members at the waterfront Sheraton Hotel in the Swedish capital on Thursday night.

"For someone who likes the whole range of music, it was really fun to meet KISS and Gene Simmons," Rice said on the plane taking her from a conference on Iraq in Stockholm to talks with Iceland's leaders in Reykjavik.

The gathering was held in an executive loung at the hotel after the band, which is on a European concert tour, contacted the US delegation who were in Stockholm for the Iraq Compact Review Conference, US officials said.

Her aides showed reporters digital photographs of Rice smiling and chatting to the long-haired band members who were dressed casually rather than in their flamboyant stage costumes of black leather and painted faces.

They wore slacks, open-necked shirts and jackets. Rice, who had just returned from a dinner with Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, appeared in her usual business attire.

Simmons and the other band members — Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer — autographed for her a glossy concert photograph of them on stage and gave band T-shirts to Rice's aides.

Rice said she had never seen KISS perform but she had been to four rock concerts in her life.

The first was when she was 10 years old and she saw Paul Revere and The Raiders in her native Alabama and the second was when she was 16 years old and went on her first date with an Air Force cadet to see Smokey Robinson.

She later saw Earth Wind and Fire and U2 in concert.