^ CHOOSE IMAGE ABOVE ^
In November 1975, KISS ALIVE! reached the top 10-album chart; fast on it's way to becoming the biggest selling live album in history. After years of struggling to build an audience, the world was now watching. We knew the next album had to be extraordinary in every way, taking KISS to astronomic heights and forever placing them in the public's imagination. The songs had to be stellar, the production impeccable, and the cover artwork something that took KISS from fascinating to mythical. A few artists' names were thrown around in conversation until we came to the vibrant powerful style of a young artist named Ken Kelly. His beautiful work in the comics was creating a buzz and it soon became clear to me that if I wanted larger than life, Ken Kelly was the man.
When I contacted Ken about doing the DESTROYER artwork, I was impressed with his humble, unassuming manner. Everything was taken with a grain of salt, including several re-dos and tight deadlines. Not many people know that his original version was rejected by the record company for being too violent. In today's world, it wouldn't raise an eyebrow, but the burning buildings in the background were just too much to take in the relatively innocent mid-seventies. Ken took this in stride and began again, only to have me stop him just as he was finishing up. This time we needed Ken to start over and put the boys in their new costumes and I wasn't looking forward to telling him. But once again, Ken was a consummate professional and went back to work without a word said.
Needless to say, DESTROYER became a juggernaut, KISS became the world's premier rock band, and Ken Kelly single-handedly raised the bar for what album artwork could aspire to. DESTROYER was and always will be one of the most dynamic pieces of album artwork ever created. It went above and beyond my expectations, which were very high considering the importance this follow-up album held. I wish I could better verbalize just what it is that makes Ken such a masterful artist, but therein lays the element that elevates art from merely well crafted to magic. He has struck such a chord in the generations of KISS fans that it still reverberates three decades later. Ask any KISS fan which album's artwork best represents the spirit of the band and they'll mosl likely say DESTROYER or Ken's other masterpiece, LOVE GUN.
DESTROYER and LOVE GUN are definitive iconic images of KISS that mark the pinnacles of their career as well as artwork. We credit him with helping create the mythical images of KISS that still hold strong today and recognize the importance he holds in rock history. Ken's body of work has shown that his talent is prolific and everlasting, impressively maintaining the level of quality he revealed three decades ago. The only thing more exciting than what Ken Kelly has done in his career is what he'll do in the next thirty years.
- BILL AUCOlN, (Excerpt from Ken's book ESCAPE)