This week in 1976, Kiss released their fourth album, Destroyer.
Here’s 20 things you might not know about it:
1.Destroyer was the band’s first album to spotlight outside musicians, including the Brooklyn Boys Chorus and members of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra.
2. The band started recording sessions for Destroyer at New York’s Electric Lady Studios on September 3rd, 1975. Their first demo was the Peter Criss-sung “Ain’t None of Your Business.” The song didn’t make the album, but was later sung by the group Detective, appearing on their 1977 debut.
3. Even though he is not credited, Dick Wagner, a guitarist from Alice Cooper’s band, replaced Ace Frehley on “Flaming Youth” and “Sweet Pain,” plus he played acoustic guitar on “Beth.” Ace reportedly wasn’t showing up consistently to recording sessions.
4.Paul Stanley once compared working on Destroyer with producer Bob Ezrin as “musical boot camp” since Ezrin taught them music theory and even wore a whistle.
5. The Japanese release of Destroyer is subtitled “Army From/Of Hell.”
6. Because the album featured songs like “God of Thunder,” “King of the Night Time World” and “Flaming Youth,” rumours spread that “Kiss” actually stood for either “Knights in Satan’s Service” of “Kids in Satan’s Service.”
7. The song “Detroit Rock City” was released as the third single from the effort, but it never charted, sold poorly, and aside from in Detroit, didn’t get much radio play. However, it has gone on to become a fan favourite often used on TV shows and in movies, including, of course, the film of the same name.
8. The newscast at the beginning of “Detroit Rock City” is actually read by Gene Simmons.
9. Peter Criss co-wrote the song “Beth” before joining Kiss, when he was still a member of a band called Chelsea. The lyrics were originally about “Beck,” a nickname for Becky, the wife of Chelsea member Mike Brand who often called her husband during practices to ask when he’d be coming home. However, Paul Stanley has questioned Criss’ role in penning the tune.
10. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley didn’t want “Beth” on the album because it wasn’t a typical Kiss song but their manager, Bill Aucoin, insisted on including it. During recording, Peter Criss was the only band member in the studio so it’s the only Kiss song without instrumental performances by any of the group’s members. Instead, it features a piano and a string orchestra. The song went on to win the band a People’s Choice Award in 1977, one of very few industry awards they’ve ever scored.
11. The title for “Shout It Out Loud” was taken from the British group The Hollies’ song “We Want to Shout It Out Loud.” Gene and Paul sang a cover of “We Want to Shout It Out Loud” with their pre-Kiss band, Wicked Lester.
12. “Shout It Out Loud” is one of very few Kiss songs to be sung by both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
13. Among the sound effects used to make “God of Thunder” were explosions, clapping, zippers, audience chatter and screaming children. Those kids are actually producer Bob Ezrin’s sons.
14. “God of Thunder” was originally more of an up-tempo rocker sung by Paul Stanley, but producer Bob Ezrin felt it would work better for Gene Simmons’ “Demon” persona if it was slowed down and the bassist took on vocals.
15. “Flaming Youth” was originally three different songs that producer Bob Ezrin put together into one track. Among the pieces he used to create the tune was a riff that Gene Simmons wrote for a song called “Mad Dog,” which appears on 2001’sThe Box Set.
16. The band recorded the song “Great Expectations” in full make-up and costumes, alongside the Brooklyn Boys Chorus, and invited the press to watch.
17. “Great Expectations” uses some musical phrases from the second movement of Beethoven’s “Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, opus 13 ‘Pathetique.’”
18. Fantasy artist Ken Kelly did the cover art for Destroyer. He agreed to create the album art but only after he could see the band play live so he could get inspired. He later said the performance he watched “blew [him] away.” Kelly would go on to do the cover for 1977’s Love Gun as well.
19. The record label rejected Ken Kelly’s first version of the album cover because they felt the scene was too violent because of the rubble and flames. It also had the band wearing their Alive! costumes.
20. Destroyer was certified platinum on November 11th, 1976, the band’s first album to ever achieve platinum status. It’s since gone on to be certified platinum a second time for sales over two-million units.