On March 15, 1976, "Kiss" released their fourth studio album, "Destroyer".
This is the band's breakthrough album, which is considered the best of the classic lineup, and its first to receive "Platinum" status.
Before the release of the album, the band released three studio albums that were not successful in sales. This led the "Casablanca" record company to consider not renewing the band recording contract.
But then, the band decides to make a move that will upgrade its musical career and make it one of the greatest bands in the world. "Kiss" knew very well that its big advantage lay in their live performances. They realized that they needed to find a way to convey the power, energy, and charisma they had on stage to the audience that was not present at the band performances. They decide to record and release the double live album "Alive!", Which will later turn out to be one of the greatest live albums ever released.
"Alive!" was a great success and is the first of the band to win "gold" status, as it spends 110 weeks in the charts, which led the record company "Casablanca" to renew the band's contract.
(Photo: Kiss Twitter)
With a new recording contract under its belt and bolstered by the huge success of the album "Alive!", "Kiss" decided it was time to change its style and sound and open up to a new audience. Unbelievably the opportunity to make a big change in sound will roll to the band's doorstep in the most casual way.
One afternoon in 1975, producer Bob Ezrin, who worked with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed, among others, walked up the stairs at the "Toronto City TV Studios" building, on his way to conduct an interview. At that time the members of "Kiss" finished recording a show and went down the stairs and passed Ezrin, who introduced himself to the musicians and noted something like: "If you ever need any help, do not hesitate to call me." Less than three months later, Bill Aucoin, "Kiss" manager, invited Ezrin to work with the band. It was a move that would change the face of the band forever.
The collaboration with Bob Ezrin will upgrade the writing quality of the band members and improve their playing ability. Ezrin will not only serve as a producer. He will also play keyboards, piano and conduct a string orchestra. He will introduce the band to new effects and innovative recording techniques. He will co-write with the band 8 of the ten songs on the album, provide the band members with lessons in music theory and serve as their music teacher. He walked around the studio with a whistle to instill discipline in the band members, scolding them and calling them to order when needed. Paul Stanley referred to working with Ezrin on the album as a "musical training camp". Gene Simmons will later admit that this was exactly what the band needed.
Ezrin watched the band perform and noticed that the audience, for the most part, was made up of men. He wanted to slightly refine the band's rough sound to attract women. He told the band that they should be the kind of bad kids the girls could love when the whole idea of the album was to show a certain sensitivity of "Kiss".
Although the band came to the recordings with 15 songs ready to carry, Bob Ezrin rejected most of them, investing his time in writing new songs as part of a joint creative process with the band members, in the studio. He caused the band to expand its horizons using effects ("Detroit Rock City"), strings ("Beth"), and even a children's choir ("Great Expectations").
This album will provide the band with stadium anthems that will accompany its setlists for over 4 decades.
The opening song "Detroit Rock City" was written and sung by Paul Stanley as a tribute to the music scene in Detroit, and Ezrin helped him adapt to something much more complex. The song was released as the fourth single from the album, with the song "Beth" appearing as its b-sides. Surprisingly, radio broadcasters preferred to play "Beth" over "Detroit Rock City". In response, the band released "Beth" as the next single, the fifth from the album, which reached number seven on the chart, the highest-charting "Kiss" song ever.
It is interesting to note, that the one who sang the ballad "Beth" is drummer Peter Criss. The song was written in the days of Criss in the band "Chelsea", in which he was a member together with the guitarist Stan Penridge, between the years 1970-1972. Criss and Penridge wrote a song called "Beck" written about the wife of their guitarist Mike Brand, whose name was Becky. She kept interrupting the band's rehearsals and kept asking when Mike was coming home, so the song was written as a joke about him and her.
The song was a last-minute addition to the album "Destroyer". According to Bill Aucoin, the band manager at the time, Simmons and Stanley did not want the song on the album, as it was not a typical "Kiss" song with a dramatic deviation from the band's rock sound. Aucoin insisted and turned out to be right after the song became the band's biggest hit. Peter Criss was the only band member in the studio at the time of the song's recording, making it the band's only song that none of the band members played in. Peter Criss was backed down with a piano recording played by Bob Ezrin, with a harp, and with Ezrin's strings arrangement. Sadly though, perhaps because of the song's great success, it will be the trigger for the controversy between Criss and Paul Stanley and will eventually cause Criss to leave the band. Stanley was interviewed years later, noting that Criss did not write the song, because he does not play on any instrument that can be used to write songs with. Criss for his part reacted to the lack of support and noted that Stanley and Simmons always insulted him.
Another single released from the album and turned into the band's greatest is "Shout It Out Loud". The song originated in Stanley and Simmons' first band - "Wicked Lester". They were influenced by the song "We Want to Shout It Out Loud" by "The Hollies" and recorded their own demo of the same name. During the recording of the album, Simmons brought the song and he and Stanley along with Bob Ezrin rewrote it.
Another iconic song from the album is "God of Thunder", written by Paul Stanley and sung by Gene Simmons. The song became a crowd favorite at shows, that Simmons usually performs after the "blood trick." The solo in the song is one of Ace Frehley's favorites and the children's voices heard in the background are Bob Ezrin's children.
"Flaming Youth" was released as the third single from the album. The song was written by Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, and Bob Ezrin, who took different pieces of music written by the other three, grouped and organized them into one song. For example, one of the main riffs in the song is taken from a song written by Simmons called "Mad Dog" and appears in the box "The Box Set", from 2001.
Other great songs on the album are "Do You Love Me" which Stanley remembers how Bob Ezrin challenged him to improve during the recordings, "Great Expectations" with the orchestra and children's choir, which features Alice Cooper and Lou Reed guitarist Dick Wagner and more. On Bob Ezrin's recommendation, the song "Great Expectations" drew from Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 of Beethoven. Dick Wagner also plays guitar on other songs on the album: "Sweet Pain", "Flaming Youth" and "Beth". This was in accordance with the instruction of Bob Ezrin and the displeasure of Ace Frehley.
"Destroyer" was a huge success in sales and helped "Kiss" become one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. The album is also on "Rolling Stone" Magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. It's also on 1001 albums you need to listen to before you die, and also on Kerrang! Magazine's 100 Greatest Ever Metal Albums List, on 100 guitar song list of "Guitar World" magazine, and more.