Interview by Mohsen Fayazi
Album artwork or the front cover of an album is more than a piece of paper. It is like an ID card for the album, EP or single, giving information about the album and artist. It is also like a promotional billboard in record shops or on the internet, advertising the theme and genre of music, what was in the head of the artist during the making of this album …etc. However, the quality of the music of an album is the most important thing, but I believe the artwork is important too, as it is the first thing that everybody will see about the album even before its release. Every artist or band has this chance to encourage their fans or others to buy and listen to their albums or throw water on the flames inside the fans and make them disappointed before even listening to the music. That is why today, the artists and record labels are taking more care about the album front cover and are hiring professional artists to create the best art for their records.
I had a chance to have an interview with one of those professional artists to talk about one of his masterpieces and his memories. Ken Kelly, who has created many cover artworks for bands such as Kiss and Manowar and also for some movies. He is also responsible for creating an epic front cover for one of the best albums in rock music, Rainbow “Rising”, with his magical fingers and mind.
The creation of the Rainbow “Rising” artwork is definitely a milestone in Ken’s career. A masterpiece which still looks alive, beautiful and epic after 40 years and the dust of time was not able to reduce its value! So we went through the history and into the past and talked about those days.
Mr Kelly expressed:
“I have to preface it with what happened before I came to Rainbow. Rainbow itself was a very simple cover to do but I don’t want to misrepresent that. It was a difficult cover, it was a unique cover, but I have to give Ritchie Blackmore the credit for it. He knew exactly what he wanted.
So, when I came into his office and after we greeted each other and sat down and started talking about the cover, I believe it comes from one of the songs – the actual reaching of the hand out to the rainbow. I had just been completely overwhelmed with KISS and what I did for them, so I was very prepared when Rainbow called and then I went into their office and they dictated the cover.
So I left the office with a complete painting in my head, I simply had to go home and use the disciplines that we’re taught as artists and do what Ritchie said and that’s what I did.
I didn’t think about it much at the time, but it’s stayed alive for forty years, it’s amazing, it’s incredible and it was a masterpiece because that’s what Ritchie asked for. He still knows what he’s doing to this day and he did back then. I would love to say I created everything and it’s all mine, but that’s simply not true.” (laughs)
I was curious to know what the reaction was from the Rainbow members, record label and fans, so I asked a question about it. Ken answered me:
“I did not hear from the group or the label, it was a very smooth and simple transaction.
The fans, for the forty years now have been all over me – just how incredible this album was, the music in it is incredible and they all love the cover naturally, because it plays a role in the fantasy element of the album. It’s just been a positive experience for me.”
* He also revealed two little secrets about this artwork, if you are interested to know about them, you should listen to the whole of this interview and see if you will be surprised or not!
What is Ken Kelly doing these days? He stated:
“I just finished Manowar’s latest album, they are on tour or just finished the tour and Joey needed it very quickly and I’m currently working steady on heavy metal albums. I’m constantly doing all kinds of things, still a very active artist.“
You can listen to the whole of this interview on the AudioPlayer below:
- You can find more information about Ken Kelly on his official website www.kenkellyart.com