Members of KISS, MANOWAR, RAINBOW and ANTHRAX are among the musicians who have paid tribute to Ken Kelly, one of the most successful fantasy artists of all time, who died on Thursday (June 2) at the age of 76.
Original KISS drummer Peter Criss wrote on his web site: "I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of my dear friend Ken Kelly. He was an amazing man and talent. A gentle, kind, funny honorable man. A man of integrity and grace. I loved him so much. His art work graced the cover of two of our iconic albums. He brought out the super heros in us. He will live on through his incredible work. My prayers and love go out to his family and fans. May he rest in peace with the Lord. God Bless, Peter Criss".
MANOWAR bassist Joey DeMaio said in a statement: "Deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Kelly. He was a giant and will live forever through his art and the memories he left with those who got to know him. I will never forget our years together. Condolences to his family. RIP, Ken. Valhalla awaits you."
RAINBOW leader Ritchie Blackmore said about Kelly: "He was a very nice man. Very easy to work with. I gave him a simple idea, which he turned into a magical picture. He shall be greatly missed. RIP Ken Kelly".
Over Kelly's 50-plus-year career, he has focused in particular on paintings in the sword and sorcery and heroic fantasy subgenres.
Early in his career, he was able to study the paintings of Frank Frazetta in the latter's studio, but Frazetta never let out his trade secrets. In the early 1970s, he did a couple of cover paintings for Castle Of Frankenstein magazine. Throughout the 1970s, he was one of the foremost cover artists on Warren Publishing's Creepy and Eerie magazines.
Kelly has depicted Conan The Barbarian and Tarzan while also creating the artwork for KISS's "Destroyer" and "Love Gun", RAINBOW's "Rising", several albums from MANOWAR, and Ace Frehley's "Space Invader" record.
His work often portrayed exotic, enchanted locales and primal battlefields. He developed the artwork for COHEED AND CAMBRIA's album "Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume Two: No World for Tomorrow", and a painting of his was used as the cover art for ALABAMA THUNDERPUSSY's 2007 release "Open Fire". In 2012, one of Kelly's paintings was used for the cover of ELECTRIC MAGMA's 12-inch vinyl release "Canadian Samurai II".
Kelly has been a guest at the Kiss By Monster Mini Golf course in Las Vegas, Nevada, doing autograph signings of prints for the classic KISS albums he has drawn cover artwork for.
Ken Kelly the artist that painted Burning Starr's last 3 album covers has passed away, He was a great artist and helped…
Posted by Jack Starr on Friday, June 3, 2022
We are saddened to hear of the passing of our brother Ken Kelly.
No words can express what a terrible loss this is, not...
Posted by MANOWAR on Saturday, June 4, 2022
May 19, 1946 - June 2, 2022
I am heartbroken to hear of the passing of my dear...
Posted by Peter Criss JAPAN on Friday, June 3, 2022