Martin Kahan, a music video director who worked with many ’80s and ’90s artists died on July 18 in Lakewood, N.J. at age 74 after a battle with cancer. He was behind clips for bands like Kiss, Motley Crue and Bon Jovi.
Kahan launched his career in the early ’80s, when he directed a series of short promotional live videos for Rush, incorporating the band’s songs “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight”, “Red Barchetta” and “Freewill.” After his return to hometown New York City, Kahan began working closely with Columbia Records, directing videos for Scandal (“Love’s Got a Line on You”), Ian Hunter (“All the Good Ones Are Taken”), Loverboy (“Queen of the Broken Hearts”) and Eddie Money (“The Big Crash”).
He also helped make rock history when he directed Kiss’ “Lick It Up” in 1983, the band’s first video to feature the members without makeup.
“I remember sitting with their business manager, Howard Marks, and Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley], saying, ‘Guys, you have to do something dramatic,'” Kiss’ creative consultant Danny Goldberg recalled in the 2005 biography, Kiss: Behind the Mask. He urged the band to consider trying something new at a time when its commercial fortunes had dramatically fallen. “That was absolutely the right way to launch it … [Kahan] did a really good job. The video really brought the band back.” (Kahan also directed Kiss’ “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose” video.)
Watch Kiss’ Video for ‘Lick It Up’
After he started his own production company, Kahan’s clientele expanded even further to include Bon Jovi (“She Don’t Know Me” and “In and Out of Love”), Scorpions (“I’m Leaving You”), the Firm with Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers (“Satisfaction Guaranteed”) and Motley Crue (“Too Young to Fall in Love”).
Watch the Firm’s Video for ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’
Kahan once noted while there was a “need to make money in this business,” he insisted there was also room for artists’ and directors’ “own creative voice.” He directed his last video in 2000 for Kenny Chesney‘s song, “I Lost It.”
Watch Bon Jovi’s Video for ‘She Don’t Know Me’
In Memoriam: 2021 Deaths
Remembering the musicians, actors, producers and others who have died in 2021.