Gene Simmons Said Kiss Made This Album Because He Saw The Who as ‘A Threat’

Gene Simmons revealed one of Kiss’ albums is based on a movie that was never made. During an interview, Simmons said Kiss wanted the album to be the band’s equivalent of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Simmons also said Kiss made the album because it saw The Who as a threat and wanted to create something similar to Tommy

Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley of Kiss in front of a wall
Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley of Kiss | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Gene Simmons takes ‘full blame’ for this Kiss album

Concept albums have been around for many years; however, they seem to be the most prominent during the 1970s. Over the course of that decade, The Who, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Alice Cooper released some of the most famous concept albums of all time. In the early 1980s, Kiss got on that bandwagon with an album Simmons doesn’t seem to like very much. 

“I take full blame,” Simmons told Rolling Stone. “It was based on a treatment, a semi-script that I wrote called The Elder. I was staying at the Beverly Hills Hotel at that point and I wrote it on the Beverly Hills Hotel stationery,” Simmons said.

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Gene Simmons explained why his idea for a film became an album because of this celebrity

Simmons explained his idea for a film became an album thanks to Bob Ezrin, the producer of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Alice Cooper’s School’s Out. “And when Bob Ezrin came back into the fold, he said, ‘What do you got there?'” Simmons recalled. “I said, ‘I’m developing this motion picture. It’s called The Elder,’… a mythological fantasy, which I’ve always been drawn to. And he said, ‘O.K., we’re going to do a concept record and we’re going to write songs based on your various premises.'” The resulting album was called Music from “The Elder.” 

Simmons had mixed feelings on Music from “The Elder.” “And in hindsight, it was an interesting mistake,” he said. “We all were sort of [thinking], ‘The Who are the threat, and they have Tommy? Why can’t we have The Elder! The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper. This will be ours.’ Well, it wasn’t.” It’s not clear if Simmons was referring to The Who’s album Tommy, its film adaptation, or both.

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How the world reacted to Kiss’ ‘Music from “The Elder”‘

Music from “The Elder” was not a big hit. The album reached No. 75 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 11 weeks. A single from the album, “A World Without Heroes,” reached No. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the chart for nine weeks.

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Music from “The Elder” didn’t fare much better in the United Kingdom. The Official Charts Company reports the album peaked at No. 51 in the U.K. and lasted on the chart for three weeks. “A World Without Heroes” peaked at No. 55 there and remained on the chart for three weeks. While Simmons felt Music from “The Elder” was a mistake, the album certainly has an interesting history.