​Music From The Elder - 1980

A dwindling fan base, poor album sales with 'Unmasked', two tours that were deemed economical losses, and their merchandise that had saturated the market since 1978 made the band directionless and they had to do something. In 1981 KISS decided to go a completely different direction, they realized they wandered too far off from their rock and roll roots and they needed a heavy album to return to those roots. They once again called in Bob Ezrin, who helped them produce on 'Destroyer'. Concept albums at the time were hot, Ezrin happened to just be done with Pink Floyd's now legendary album 'The Wall', so he was the perfect candidate for the job. Gene also wanted to show a more artistic side to the critics, something the critics have been negative about since the band first shows and albums.

But the album did not turn out anything as people expected it to be. The reaction was a mixture of confusion and resentment. Business manager Howard Marks even refused to allow his company's name to appear in the liner notes. Fan reaction to the album was equally harsh, while surprisingly, the reaction from the critics was comparably positive. It's indeed a rock album far from the pop rock sound 'Unmasked' has, but the story line turned the album in a strange dark medieval rock album with bells and horns, singing monks and a depressive atmosphere.

The biggest shock the fans had to endure was the wardrobe change the band made for the album, gone was the long hair and high platform boots. The band turned their costumes in a medieval-like fashion style. Ace, becoming more and more unhappily in his position in KISS, was outvoted on decisions constantly by Gene and Paul seeing Eric Carr was not a partner in KISS. He became frustrated when working with Bob Ezrin on the album, he wanted to make a real hard rock KISS album, not a concept album with a sad Gene singing about a world without heroes. Eventually even Ace guitar solo's were shortened. When Ace heard the finalized version for the first time he threw the cassette against the wall. Bob Ezrin stated years later his judgment in making the concept album was clouded seeing he had a heavy cocaine addiction.

The 'Music From The Elder' album bombed, not even reaching higher than position #75 in the US Billboards Album Charts. Their planned tour was eventually scrapped, but two different budget and ideas for the stage show were already written down on paper to be used for a tour in 1982.

Too make things worse, Bill Aucoin and the KISS company broke ways after many disagreements and on May 8, 1982, Neil Bogart, president of their record company Casablanca Records and big supporter since they were signed, died from complications of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. 'Creatures Of The Night', their next album would be dedicated to Neil.

Until this day, Gene and Paul still have a resentment towards their only commercially failed album. But they performed 'A World Without Heroes' unplugged during their 1995 Convention Tour and for their performance of MTV Unplugged. In 2013 during KISS Kruise III the band performed a full version of 'The Oath' live for the first time. Not all fans love the album but it has become a real cult classic among KISS fans. What also makes the album not work, is that Gene had the idea to create a movie with the story from the album. So basically, "The Music From The Elder", is the sound track to a movie that was never made.

Many effects and ideas were brainstormed for the Elder tour:

  • Keepers Of The Light Of Truth - The show was to be very elaborate, with the band as Keepers Of The Light Of Truth as seen in this KISS comic.

  • Freeze Ray Guns - The band was suppose to protect a "damsel in distress" with freeze ray guns in a three act stage play.

  • Ace's Jet Pack - A jet pack that would be strapped on Ace's back or his guitar so it would look like he would fly!
  • Bee Swarm - A 3D projection of a swarm of bees the band had to destroy with a laser cannon.
  • Drum Riser Tank Turret - A multiple barrel tank turret that would emit smoke, this idea would transfer over to the Creatures tour!
  • Well Of The Unknown - A water well with a trap door with "fantasies emerging from well".
  • Medieval Shields - Medieval looking shields were sketched up to be used on the stage show.

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