Former Kiss Producer Kenny Kerner Dies
Kenny Kerner, the producer who acted as an early advocate for Kiss and co-produced the band’s first two albums with his production partner Richie Wise, has reportedly passed away due to complications from diabetes.
Kerner’s son seems to have confirmed the news of his death, which was lamented in a Facebook post from the band that reads, “We are shocked to hear of Kenny Kerner’s passing. He was an early supporter of the band and co-produced our first two albums. He additionally did some terrific work that produced numerous hits including ‘Midnight Train to Georgia‘ for Gladys Knight and the Pips and ‘Brother Louie‘ for Stories. He remained a friend till the end and we will never forget his contributions to our early years.”
Kerner first rose to prominence as the producer, manager, and lyricist for Dust, a proto-American metal trio whose two early ’70s releases brought him to the attention of Kama Sutra Records boss Neil Bogart, who brought him on as a staff producer — a gig that ultimately led to Kerner making the discovery of a career. “Neil would leave demo tapes for me outside of his office. And I would come by once a week, pick them up, take them home, listen to them and bring them back,” he told KissMonster.com during a 2010 interview. “One trip found me taking the Kiss demo tape out of the box … I listened to it and it just blew me away.”
Signed to Bogart’s new venture Casablanca Records, the band got off to a relatively slow commercial start with its first few albums, and tensions between the group’s team and the label came to a head after the release of 1974’s ‘Hotter Than Hell’ LP. When the dust settled, Kerner and Wise had lost Kiss — but as he later claimed in the above interview, he always knew it was strictly a business decision on Bogart’s part.
“He took us away because he wanted to push a wedge in between us and the band. We continued to work for him for years after that. We continued to give him hit records. He just wanted Kiss. And he figured if he got in between us … at least that’s one thing out of the way. So he went in and did the ‘Dressed To Kill’ album, which didn’t really do much. Shows to go you, as they say, that all he was concerned about was getting his two feet in the door there.”
Looking back, mused Kerner, “I think Kiss was one of those bands of destiny that was supposed to happen because they had everything that the teenage rock audience wanted to hear. Mainly the amazing show … You know, I used to see that they would audition pyrotechnics guys and magicians, ‘How do I do this? How do we do that? We want the drums to fly.’ One person after another until they got exactly what they wanted … They are the greatest live performing band ever in the history of popular music.”
Kenny Kerner Discusses His Time With Kiss