KISS Production Manager Ken Anderson Dies at 75

Ken Anderson - H 2014
Courtesy of Roman Fernandez

Ken Anderson - H 2014

He oversaw the band’s explosive and wildly popular stage shows from 1976-82.

Ken Anderson, who oversaw the smoking, blood-spitting and spectacularly pyrotechnic KISS stage shows as the heavy-metal band’s production manager from 1976-82, has died. He was 75.

Anderson died of cancer Dec. 15 at his home in Hallandale Beach, Fla.; his family did not announce the news until this week.

With Anderson in charge as vp production at Aucoin Management – the company headed by Bill Aucoin, who discovered and managed KISS -- the band’s live act was over-the-top extravagant and jaw-dropping. The shows featured full makeup, fire-breathing, lightning bolts, levitating drum kits, trapdoors, confetti storms, band members lifted about the stage and guitars that smoked, fired rockets or flew toward the ceiling.

All this helped catapult Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss to superstardom.

On its website, KISS said in a statement that Anderson “was dedicated to our cause, and his skill was in evidence to anyone who saw our stages during those years.”

Born in 1938 in Melrose, Mass., Anderson attended Boston University from 1956-60, then served as lighting director at public TV station WGBH on what would become one of the station’s signature series, The French Chef, starring Julia Child. Aucion also worked at the station as a director.

Anderson transitioned to TV commercials and stage productions with Jesus Christ Superstar and Oh! Calcutta!, where he once again teamed with Aucoin. In 1976, the manager hired him to oversee production of the sprawling KISS shows.

Anderson also did work for the Olympics and Universal Studios in Los Angeles and chipped in for boxing matches on HBO and Showtime, including the infamous 1997 fight in which Mike Tyson bit off a chunk of Evander Holyfield’s ear.

Survivors include his wife Evie, son John and daughter Julie.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4