KISS - Original 60-Second 1978 Solo Album Radio Spot Uncovered; Renowned Artist David Edward Byrd Recalls "Hellacious" Experience Creating Solo Album Murals

July 29, 2013, 4 years ago

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As KISS celebrate their 40th anniversary in 2013, launch Back In The Solo Album Groove: The KISS Albums. 35 Years Later..., an ambitious multi-week retrospective dedicated to arguably the biggest milestone in KISStory: the 1978 KISS solo albums.

In conjunction with the launch, audio of the original 60-second radio commercial has been uncovered, courtesy of the Rob Freeman Archive.

The original 60-second spot was created to promote the simultaneous release of four KISS solo albums in 1978. The commercial marks one component of the unprecedented $2.5 million advertising and promotional campaign for the KISS solo albums. Some audio from this spot was also used for related television commercials. The radio spot was recorded and edited by Rob Freeman who, together with producer Eddie Kramer, recorded and mixed Ace's solo album, Ace Frehley. Both Frehley's album and the radio spot were recorded at Plaza Sound Studio in New York. Production of the radio spot was overseen by Howard Marks of Glickman Marks, KISS' business management office.

KissFAQ has also posted the retrospective's first interview, a conversation with renowned artist David Edward Byrd.

Any KISS fan who bought the KISS solo albums on vinyl will remember the cartoonish mural posters contained within each album. Many a fan placed these murals on their walls as part of their KISS shrine. Once the exclusive poster and program designer for Bill Graham's new Fillmore East, Byrd recalls a tight deadline and "hellacious" experience in creating the mural posters.

The following are excerpts from Byrd's interview with KissFAQ's Tim McPhate:

On the timeline for creating the murals:

DEB: "But the mural thing was just hellacious. I think they called me on Friday and they had to have all four murals done by Monday."

KF: No kidding. Wow.

DEB: "Oh, it was horrendous. And fortunately, I had two assistants. One of them is a very famous artist now, Arthur K. Miller. And Rita [was the other]. And they both were students of mine at the School of Visual Arts. So we did this crash thing - I mean, I can't tell you how fast we had to do these big paintings. We did them in acrylic and you know, and we had to do these montages of everybody. And then they had to interlock. And, Oy gevalt! It was like three days to do it. You know, they always call the artist, like, "Oh, he can do it."

The concept:

KF: Was there a definitive concept explained to you in terms of what was required for this job?

DEB: "Well, they said it was like a mural for the kiddies. You know, that would encourage them to buy all four albums. It was really a [thing]."

KF: The first thing that comes to my mind is there is a very cartoonish flavor to them.

DEB: "Yeah, oh yeah. I had no time to be arty. I mean I was amazed we got it fucking done!"

KF: I'm surprised to learn you only had a weekend to do these.

DEB: "Oh, it was impossible. But I said, 'Well, we've got to do it.' And Arthur said, 'Oh Dave, we'll do it.' But he was much younger than I was. I was in my 30s and he was like 20. And Rita was 20. So they could do it. And they were good. Thank God for them, I just don't know what I would I have done."

KF: It seemed like a tough time crunch, but were there any other concepts that you came up with and ultimately discarded?

DEB: "Well, we didn't have time to make many changes. When I look at [them], I forget how it was just so wacky how we were not even - you know, I used to stop and think about stuff and spend a lot of time. But I couldn't do that here. We just had to go for it. Actually, a collector bought all the original pencils."

On another initial solo album idea:

KF: They do look pretty similar in spirit to the KISS solo album covers. So maybe they were an initial concept or something else to accompany the project?

DEB: "I think that may be the case, because those drawings were done fast. Those were just ink drawings and in those days we didn't have computers or anything."

KF: That's a whole conversation unto itself. You did all this in 1978 before the days of all the tools and technology that are available today.

DEB: "Oh yeah, this was all handwork."

KF: Which makes it even more of a marvel considering the deadline involved.

DEB: "Yeah, we had to cut all those fucking stars out. We painted paper yellow and then we spree-mounted them down. You know, we did all sorts of shortcuts. But still..."

Read the full interview at this location.

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