Discover everything you wanted to know about the Elder!

"Elder" Related!

Rob Freeman (2012)
Decorated producer/engineer offers a fascinating account of KISS' pre-"Elder" sessions at Ace in the Hole Studio in early 1981, meeting Bob Ezrin and how the project ultimately relocated to Canada.

Christopher K. Lendt (2012)
Former vice president of Glickman/Marks Management recalls the state of KISS in 1981 and the band's ambitious bid to redefine their career.

Kevin Doyle (2012)
Award-winning engineer shares his vivid memories of recording "The Elder," including capturing Gene Simmons' vocal performance on "A World Without Heroes," recording multiple days of spoken word dialog, and how the album ultimately evolved into the "Bob Ezrin show."

Brian Christian (2012)
The associate producer of "Music For The Elder" goes on record about not only his experience, but how KISS fans were ultimately not ready for the album...

Michael McCarty (2012)
Uncredited engineer Michael McCarty sheds some light on KISS' "Elder" sessions at Phase One Studios in Toronto...

Waring Abbott (2012)
Renowned photographer of many iconic KISS photos recalls his "Elder"-era sessions with the band.

Dennis Woloch (2012)
Longtime KISS art director details the creative process for the unusual album artwork for "Music From The Elder."

David M. Spindel (2012)
Renowned still life photographer recounts a different kind of photo shoot featuring a door, table, chairs, and a "messenger."

Bill Finneran (2012)
The first-ever conversation with the man who constructed "The Elder" door.

Chris Makepeace (2012)
A brief conversation with the Boy who had "the light in his eyes and the look of a champion, a real champion..."

Tony Powers (2012)
Key "Music From The Elder" contributor goes on record for the first time about his "Odyssey" with KISS.

Corky Stasiak (2014)
Recording engineer goes on the record about his work on "The Elder" during the final overdub sessions.

Bruce Gowers (2015)
Emmy-winning director of Queen's iconic "Bohemian Rhapsody" video chips in his recollections of working with KISS.

Paul Flattery (2015)
Producer from Gowers, Fields & Flattery fills in some blanks regarding the conceptual treatments for KISS' videos for "A World Without Heroes" and "I."

Jerry Watson (2015)
Director of photography puts the spotlight back on the KISS videos for "A World Without Heroes" and "I."

Charles McCracken (2012)
American Symphony Orchestra bassoonist Charles McCracken on his brief moment in KISStory.

Ida Langsam (2015)
Publicist pro discusses working with KISS during a challenging time in their history and trying to get word about "The Elder" out to the masses.

Antony Parr Revealed (2012)
A conversation with spoken-word actory Antony Parr's daughters, Kate Parker and Jennifer Parr, who filled us in on their father's storied career and their recollections of his involvement on this mysterious KISS album.

Bas Hartong (2015)
Phonogram International's A&R manager gives perspective on the state of KISS in 1981 and shares his recollections of Bob Ezrin's "Elder" presentation for the label.

Jerry Jaffe (2015)
PolyGram's head of rock promotion on why "The Elder" had a scarlet letter attached to it and why getting KISS radio airplay in 1981 was a lost cause.

Chip Taylor (2015)
PolyGram head of A&R and Hall of Fame songwriter on expecting to receive "the rock and roll record of all time."

Tim Trombley (2015)
"Music From The Elder" production coordinator details his recollections of the album and recounts his role as Bob Ezrin's assistant.

Bob Ezrin (2015)
Legendary producer speaks on "The Elder" in his own words.

Additional Related!

John Storyk (2013)
Renowned studio designer recalls his work on Ace Frehley's Ace in the Hole Studios in Wilton, CT.

John Picard (2015)
Picard is the guitarist/co-songwriter for the Kings, a Canadian band Bob Ezrin was concurrently producing while working with KISS on "The Elder."

Melanie Chartoff (2015)
Multitalented actress looks back on a "Fridays" adventure with KISS.

Mark Ravitz (2015)
Stage designer recalls working on what was at the time an unnamed 1981–1982 KISS tour design.

Chuck Klosterman (2012)
From the packaging and the meaning of "Odyssey" to analyzing Paul Stanley's disdain for the album, New York Times bestselling author/KISS fan dissects "Music From The Elder"...

Ty Tabor (2012)
King's X guitarist discusses being one of the proud few who liked "The Elder" upon its release and the simple reason why the album didn't catch on with the majority of KISS fans, plus other odds and ends.

Seb Hunter (2012)
Writer/director of unsuccessful "The Elder" film goes on record regarding his feelings about the album, details his film's progress and when he hopes to officially approach KISS, and fires off a message to his critics.

Brian Brewer (2015)
KISS fan Brian Brewer was the winner of "The Elder" script in the 2000 "KISS: The Auction" hosted by Butterfields/Greg Manning Auctions. As owner of the sole copy, Brewer reveals never-before-revealed insights into the "Elder" film that never was.

Robert V. Conte (2017)
KISS' 1990's catalogue consultant recalls his encounters with "The Elder" and working with the band on various projects.

Into the Cathedral with Marty Cohen...

By Julian Gill

There are few people would can say that they played with both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley prior to KISS. Steve Coronel is one. Marty Cohen the other. Marty was kind enough to give the KissFAQ an interview to discuss his history with Gene and Paul, and correct a few things that appeared on the FAQ website over the years. His perspective continues to add to the picture of Gene and Paul coming together in a partnership that had lasted more than four decades...

Who is Marty Cohen and how does he fit into the pre-KISS story?

Marty Cohen: I myself, before I knew either Gene [Klein/Simmons] or Steve [Coronel] I'd gone to the High School of Music and Art with Paul Stanley. So that would probably be my first contact really with someone from KISS, in the first year of high school. And we used to take the train together. I'd meet him now and then and we'd take the train together. He used to live on Main Street in Queens and I used to come from around Jamaica Estates. We were friends - we knew each other and I think we even had two classes together. Funny thing was he was an art student and I was a music student. We used to meet and play, and sometimes cut classes and jam in the auditorium. There was a harpsichord there and stuff. But it was an exceptional school, and it was geared towards musicians and artists. You had to take a test to get in.

So both of us went there and we'd hang out and there were a lot of people who became famous from that school: Janis Ian was there; a guy named Michael Kamen, who was huge with Eric Clapton and Pink Floyd - he did the orchestration for Pink Floyd on their albums. I actually knew Michael Kamen because he was in a band called the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble. But later on he became a writer for huge movies.

And he {Michael Kamen} was in the Raspberries, wasn't he, which was one of the bands Paul liked?

I can't remember if he was or not, I just knew him from the New York Rock & Roll Ensemble and I was with those guys quite a few times. I was still a kid, but was in places that they were. I actually in the recording studio with them and a week before Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, and Jack Bruce were there recording an album. It was in Atco's Studios and the engineer was a guy called Bruce Tergesen. On the "Wheels of Fire" album for Cream he'd worked with Clapton. So I was actually sitting next to a guy who'd worked with Clapton a week before, that famous "silver" album.

I used to play in bands all the time. I had a backpack and used to go places and just hang out with friends. It was the hippie days in 'Cisco already. Very different from everyone else. I had my hair long when nobody else was doing it. I'd gone out to the West Coast and New York hadn't caught up to that yet. Haight-Asbury had already starting to get in to its movement. When I came back I had shoulder-length hair with fringe jacket and fringe boots, the whole thing. It was quite a difference getting off the plane in New York and wandering around and nobody else was dressed like that. But when I met Paul Stanley he was dressed like that. He was wearing fringe boots. It was kind of funny. When I first met him, I thought it was kind of odd. He had this distorted ear and wore his hair long. I thought it was to cover that, but he just liked his hair long.

How did you meet Gene Simmons?

So I used to go around with this backpack and I went upstate and was staying at a friend's house, the guys name was Jeff Rockstein, who was a drummer, and he invited me to go to a club, it was called the KC Club. As I walked in my friend said to me, "I know the band. Do you want to sing with them?" I said sure, I'll get up and do a couple of songs. So he walked up to the band and said, "This is Marty, you want to let him sing?" So I go up on the stage and just did a couple of songs. I can't remember what I did, but I always a lot of reaction because I carried on a lot and always did a lot of stuff on stage. As I'm walking off the stage Steve Coronel and Gene Klein, as he was at the time, came up to me and asked, "are you interested in joining a band?" And I said, "Yeah, I'm ready any time!" So they asked when I wanted to start and I said "now, I've got my backpack." And I followed Gene out, and Steve, and went back to his dorm which was in Sullivan County Community College.

What was that band?

So we ended up forming a band named Cathedral. And we played just about six-months to a year up there. We had a house that I got in Harris, NY, and Steve and I lived there and Gene still lived over at the dorm, but he'd come over and stay at this house that had no heat in the winter. It was insane and it was freezing. We cleared out this top level of the house and made it into a rehearsal studio. We were in the middle of nowhere. I was called Harris, NY, and it was right in between Liberty and Monticello. So we rehearsed there a lot and played a lot of the local places up there, hotels and clubs.

Tell us about a Cathedral gig?

One night we were booked that this place called the Flagler Hotel in Fallsburg. It was really one of these Borscht-belt types of hotel, and Gene at the time was one of the straightest guys I knew. We used to go upstate to play, and sometimes Steve and I would go back upstate because we'd go back to New York to play, and back upstate to meet Gene to go someplace to play. Sometimes Gene would hitch a ride with us and the only car we had was Steve's car which was a Corvette. So the three of us had to go upstate with the three of us with me sitting over the gear-shift 'because Gene was bigger than me. We used to meet him in Queens. We'd pick him up by Parsons Boulevard. I'd go to his house and meet his mom. His mom would fawn over us. She was really nice lady, we always had fun there. And she'd always make Gene a baggie to take with him. He was a real mama's boy. He had no car. No license. He never drove. He'd get in the car with his baggie, and Steve and I were hippies who were already smoking pot. And we got pulled over one time with the three of us in one Corvette and it was this really crazy scene. It was just wild. And Steve used to speed through this one area and there were speed traps. And he ended up going to jail, and having to pawn this Canon camera he had to pawn to get out. But that was where Gene was at -- he was not really a rock 'n roll kind of guy. He wrote music and he loved to play. He liked Paul McCartney more than anybody I can remember. He used to stand on the stage like a serious guy playing like Paul with his feet together, facing out from the stage like he was Paul McCartney. He never jumped around. I was the lunatic who'd attack people and be out of control. And he really wasn't much of a showman at that time. He just kind of hung out and played. So one night we were booked into this place called the Flagler Hotel. It was a New Year's Eve party and they had this horrible snow storm and the society band that was supposed to play for all the old people got cancelled. So they had this big ballroom with tons of old people in there with their kids and family. And we're like 19-years-old and I drank like half a bottle of Southern Comfort before I walked on stage. My hair was down to my ass and Steve had this big afro.

Who was the drummer, Stan Singer?

No, that's not so. A guy named Elliott Hine was the drummer with us at that gig. It was not Stan Singer {as listed on the website}. Elliott was a friend of Gene's because he went to Sullivan Community College. It all fits. So anyway, before we knew it, we did one song, "Mississippi Queen," with me running around drunk out of my mind. By the time we'd finished the song there was maybe one or two people left in the room. We didn't even finish that night. We'd chased everybody out with that one song. We had a lot of fun up there. And basically that was that era and we had other jobs.

What about Gene as the "ladies man?"

Gene always was guy that would really not get that many girls. I was much more forward than him. And Steve and I, wherever we went, were always hunting. It's funny how it turned out with Gene and his obsession with girls. Years later he tried to sock it to me. We were in this place called Copperfields and Neal Teeman was there also. And he'd just come out of Electric Lady recording studio and Copperfields was on Eighth Street, right down the block from Electric Lady recording studio. Gene and Stan had just released "I Was Made For Lovin' You," and I hadn't seen them for a while. I used to run in to Gene all the time at a place called Jumpin' Jack Flash which was a clothing store where all the items came from England. It was in Manhattan. Somehow we ended meeting them at Copperfields and we were sitting at a table and had come back from this tour in Japan. Gene was ready to give it to me because I'd always been getting the girl. I was always overshadowing him in certain ways. So this waitress leans over and he said, "look what I can do." So he grabs her chest as if you were going to a tree to see if the fruit was ripe. And he was "look at what I can get away with." I looked at him and said that's pretty good. And he was so annoyed that he was going in the bathroom with her... So we went out that night in the limo and he was supposed to give me a lift home to Queens. For me and Gene, we always had this kind of rivalry and Gene was always one of the most intense people I ever met. He would corner you on facts. I would talk to him on philosophy and such, since I was reading all sorts of stuff at that time. But every time we'd have a conversation we'd get into such confrontation as he tried to corner you.

He was always analyzing. Whenever we got paid he was the guy who always watched out for our pay. He had this little black book and he'd keep score of how much we were owed, and he was right down to the penny. It was a sign of where he was going for the bargaining that would come with KISS. He was always on top and watching everything. Sometimes you hated it because it was like working for an accountant. If you had a hamburger a week ago he'd tell you that you still owed him. But overall we had a fairly decent and good friendship.

You mentioned Neal Teeman earlier. Tell me about your relationship with him?

Paul Stanley on the other hand was friendly with me through Neal Teeman. Now Neal and I go back together many years. Before any of these guys really. Neal had a friendship with Paul because of Matt Rael, the guitarist, they'd played together as kids. I came into Neal's side just after he was away from Matt for a while. We were someplace hanging out and I was having problems at home and Neal said to me come and stay at my house, my parents are cool. And I stayed with him for maybe a month and his parents ended up treating me like a member of their family. We were very close friends for quite a while. Later on he ended up bringing me into Electric Lady recording studios, Mayfair studios, you know any place he was working because I was a musician. He was a drummer, but he was on and off as a drummer, and more a recording engineer, especially in later years. He became a total engineer and I still stayed a musician.

He brought us into a lot of places. We met a lot of people. I could walk down 8th street any time I wanted knock on the door, ring the bell and I would be allowed in. The receptionist knew who I was. They had a pinball room downstairs at Electric Lady, it was just a recreation place, where if you were at the studio if you wanted to just go and hang out and sit there while other people were working. I met just tons and tons of people from the recording industry just hanging out there: Eric Clapton, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Stones. A whole lot of people. It was just a very friendly atmosphere because people would just come in and see you there. And they'd ask who'd you know, what you doing here, and such, and sometimes ask you to come into the session.

Paul Stanley, we were kind of friendly. We chased a few girls together. There was a girl he was seeing, the daughter of the super in Neal's building. We'd go over to Stan's house and just hang out. What I found interesting about him was you always saw the influence of the artist in him. He was a good musician and he was a good player, but he really showed a lot from his personality of him being an artist. Especially in his room. One time Neal and me took acid. Stan never took anything - he would guide us through our trips while he was totally straight. And we would go into his bedroom and he had this wall that was painted with a uniform color even the door. You really couldn't see the door in the wall and he'd freak us out by opening the door and terrifying us that something was in the wall. And made it look like he was opening the wall.

We used to go to this place called Cunningham Park that was where everybody played. There were lots of outdoor concerts back then that I did. He and I were in bands and we'd played Alley Pond Park and Cunningham Park. The city would bring over these prebuilt stages with electricity and lights. And anywhere from 1,500-3,000 people would come on Friday/Saturday nights. So we were really doing almost concert level even though it was only a local area. We were actually doing outdoors concerts. It was a real cool time. But Stan and I never played in a band together back then. I knew him through Neal, and I was a friend of Neal, and we went to high school together. We didn't have a really close relationship. I never spent a lot of time with him. I spent much more time with Neal Teeman. That's why Neal said some of the things about me in his interview with you.

So, later on those guys became KISS. Eventually Steve and I were also in a band together that ended up with Paul Stanley while Gene was up at college. He came to see us play at a place called The Cave on Columbus Avenue. It was this sort of place where you'd go downstairs and it was built out of Styrofoam to look like a cave. At that time we were playing with Stan Singer [on drums]. I think it was called Tree, I really don't remember the name we had for it. Gene came down to see us play and that was really where he first met Paul Stanley. Basically Steve's invite because Steve and Gene were very good friends and so Gene came down to see Steve's band. And of course I knew Gene because I'd been in a band with him up at Sullivan Community College, so he came to see me too. Although he was much more of a friend to Steve than me because they had a childhood friendship and was just in a band with him and we parted ways and I came down to New York.

But that's where I remember them meeting and I think that really is the beginning of it. And that's why I have somewhat of a claim to say that Neal Teeman would never have met Gene Simmons, in any way shape or form, he would never have met Steve Coronel, in any way shape or form, unless I introduced him and he had played in the band with me and Steve. And basically that band was with Paul Stanley so that's the connection.

[Ed. What Marty refers to as "The Cave" Paul mentions in his autobiography as Forlini's Third Phase on Broadway and 111th Street (I checked the New Yorker and the description of the place matches up with what he describes).]

So Neal Teeman suggested that you'd recommended that Steve join Paul's band when Matt Rael left. Would that be accurate?

I think that's way too far back at the time. If I remember correctly, when Neal was playing with Matt Rael, Steve Coronel was not my friend. And Steve Coronel could not possibly have known Neal Teeman at that time. The only way Neal was introduced to Steve Coronel was through me. There was no other way that he would have met Steve Coronel.

And that's kind of what I think Neal was trying to say, that you would have suggested Steve Coronel should hook up with Paul Stanley, not that he knew him...

What happened was, I was leaving the band. I was on my way out anyway. It was more or less like me saying to Steve why don't you consider Gene. Actually, it wasn't for Paul Stanley, but Gene was the guy that actually came into the band - he replaced me. So that band that he came down to see I had more or less left that band and Gene ended up playing with Steve and Stan and really going on to Wicked Lester from that. Neal had nothing to do with it at the time. I had nothing to do at the time with Matt. Matt Rael was friends with Neal and I barely Matt in my entire life because of the fact he was really close with Neal before I even met him. It might of been that later on after I brought Steve into it he might have suggested that. The only time Gene came into the scene was when he came back from Sullivan Community College. And Steve and I and Neal Teeman were already playing together, for a while, so it doesn't make sense time-wise. That's the only time he actually met Stan.

That makes sense...

It's the way I recollect and piece it together. Steve will agree on it because he remembers. Later on he said he invited Stan in private over to his house. Gene was coming over already. I was still friends with Steve regardless when they were playing together, and I was over at Steve's apartment almost all the time. There was a couple of times Gene came over to play us new songs he was writing and that was actually before he met Stan. Whether Neal suggested it or not I don't remember, but I can tell you this: They didn't meet until that time we were playing in that club because I was there. I was there when Gene walked in and came over to me and Stan was a total stranger. And also when Gene came in he didn't know Neal Teeman at all. He had no knowledge of who Neal Teeman. I'm the only one who had any contact between playing in a band with Steve with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

That puts you two guys in a very unique positions. You playing up in the Catskills with Gene and Steve in Cathedral. Did you have anything to do with Bullfrog Bheer? That was another one of Gene's bands up there...

I think that was a band he was playing with before he met me. I don't remember that name, I've seen it published. Steve and I lived up there in Harris, NY and then we came down to New York together. Steve and I left. And Steve and I were still together, friends, even until now. We still play and record together. That was the way that went down. Neal was a peripheral friend. Neal became involved in it because he was such a good friend of mine and I spent a lot of time with Steve. So he was drawn into it, but he and Steve had a good friendship afterwards. They were close friends, there was no doubt about it.

So if you were leaving the band when Gene came down to see you and Steve perform at the Cave, what were you doing at the time?

Really just playing with a lot of people. We were playing in places called Max's Kansas City and really doing the New York scene. Playing with other bands, nobody really notable or famous at that time. Just a lot of people playing and trying to make something happen. It wasn't anything significant. My stuff really happened when I was younger. I really hung back and just played around and that was it.

You have played with some pretty interesting people: Jimi Hendrix?

Before I met Gene or Stan, or even Steve Coronel, I was in my last year of junior high school I got a phone call from a friend, a black guy, who was a really good guitar player. At that time not everybody played Hendrix, especially black guys, who generally played Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops, and stuff like that which was really popular. This guy was real rebel for black guys because he loved Hendrix. And back in those days there was no security for stage. Hendrix played at high schools or colleges they were booked at almost any place. And Larry used to go down and wait at the gate, wherever they were loading, and the road manager got to know him. And he would help load the equipment wherever there was a place that Hendrix was playing. I don't know how many times he did it, but he did it enough to really get a rapport with the road manager. So he gave me a call and he says, "I'm going to go see Jimi Hendrix record tonight. Come down and I'll get you in."

So here I am, this is the first time I've ever even been in a recording studio. It's the Record Plant. I go down and ring the bell and they let me in. I'm a kid, like 15 years old! And Larry's inside so the two of us meet. I go into the two different studios, I'm playing all the instruments and turning on a D3 Hammond. All of a sudden we go into Studio A. It's a very long room, they call it like a railroad room because it's relatively thin and long. On the floor there were 10 guitars. All of the cases were open. The way the studio was set up there was a bay window about 15' high that looked directly into the studio. There was a couch at the bottom level that you could sit on and look right into the room. There was a console in back of the room where you could sit and look down in the room, like a pilot kind of view to run the session.

So Larry and I walked in there and basically sat down on the couch and started smoking and just getting stoned when all of a sudden to my left Jimi Hendrix walks in. And he's wearing the big hat and the plume, a cape with purple lining, and he walks in and walks up and down the wall and looks at all of the guitars. He picks up a black Stratocaster and goes down to this folding chair and plugs in. So we're sitting there and they have these huge speakers on chains hung from the ceiling. And here I am now sitting there out of my mind watching Jimi Hendrix and listening to him through a listening board in a major studio! So I look at Larry and I'm like "this is too hard to handle -- I'm going in there!" And he's like, "Don't do it, you'll blow it and we'll be asked to leave!" I'm stoned, I'm going in. I walk in and stand right in front of him and look down. And he says to me, "Hey man, you want to listen? Put on some cans." I'm like "cans?" "Headphones, man!" So he gets me a folding chair and I put on a pair of headphones and now I'm sitting directly across from Jimi Hendrix listening to him through the mixing board in a recording studio. And he's playing for me, because no one else is there, he's just showing off for me!

Later, about 15 or 20 minutes, in come Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding and I'm like, "Oh my God!" And they go over into a corner and start talking and I go back into the control room and sit on the couch. And Larry can't believe that he would even talk to me, he was like my buddy. And I'm sitting there and all of a sudden, everything was setup already, and they start playing. And I'm listening to the Jimi Hendrix Experience through the listening board in a recording studio! About a half-hour later the sound goes totally dead. In walks Hendrix and he says to Larry, "you guys play anything?" And he's like "Yeah! Yeah! Sure!" Hendrix looks at me and says, "How about you?" I'm like "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" He says, "these guys just got in from England. They're jet-lagged and don't want to hang out. Let's play!" We ended up staying there from eight-o'clock at night until eight in the morning. We had the time of our lives. He was just the greatest character I ever met. He was like a coach for us. He was getting himself really high in there anyway, and we were the party. He just got himself rolling and we just rolled with him. We just had a good time. The next day he gives me a phone number to call to get in touch with him. And this guy answers the story and I tell him the story, but we never ever spoke to him again.

So here I am and I'm working a manual job thirty years later and I get a call from a friend of mine, who does videos of my band who works for MTV. So he was with a producer and they were going to do a special on Jimi Hendrix. He's says, "Get on the phone with the producer and he'll check out your story." So I tell him the exact story I told you. And he says, "It's a nice story, but how do I know it's true?" I says, "well, you're going to have to believe me." He says, "wait a second. You said you recorded, right? What did you record?" I told him, "We recorded a song called 'Passing Ships'." He says to me, "I know you're on the level. We've been through the archives for the TV special, and we happened to come across that song. There was no way you could have known that name without having been there." Thirty-five years of my life I've been the boy crying wolf and here's the documentation. It was really funny that they actually had a copy. Amazing!

Didn't that track come out on "Valleys of Neptune" as "Ships Passing Through the Night," at least a version of the song? {Note: The version on the album was noted in the liner notes as being recorded on April 14, 1969, at Record Plant Studios New York, New York}

That's exactly it. And I was on it and I played keyboard, a D3-Hammond and congas. We just hung out all night and played. It was kind of like a blues song he was just jamming, but it turned into something he recorded later and they had copies of the archives from that studio.

That's an amazing story that you've got that you got to be there with him.

Yeah, not many people can say that. And of growing up with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley! Neal also arranged for me to be able to play with Becker and Fagen [Ed. Steely Dan]. What happened was he used to bungalow colony in Jersey. Sandy [Deane], from Jay and the Americans, his family were regulars at that same bungalow colony so they used to summer together. So Sandy asked Neal one time, because he was going to Brooklyn Tech because he was a real tech guy, "what do you really want to do with your life?" So Neal said, "I really want to become a recording engineer." So Sandy made it available for him to come down and learn the console at Mayfair Studios in the very famous Brill building. So Neal had already been working there for a while, and we were buddies, and he used to get free time to record or engineer. Any time he wanted to turn on the machine, basically, if there was nobody in the studio Neal could do what he wanted.

So, I used to go up there and walked in the studio and Donald Fagen and Walter Becker would be sitting at this cubicle writing songs for Jay and The Americans because they were the backup band for them and also writers for them. I saw their paychecks, they were getting like $200 per week just to sit there and be part of the band. But they were nobodies. So Neal said to them, "why don't we go into the studio," and he'd run the board and there were a couple of times I was with Neal and those guys and actually recorded with them. I spent time with them. I was also with Neal when he did the first Steely Dan recording which was a movie soundtrack called "You've Got to Walk It Like You Talk It or You'll Lose That Beat." Nobody knows that either, but that was really the first real thing they did. And Neal was actually involved in that. I was kind of like the Where's Waldo of Rock 'N' Roll. I was in a lot of places. Also Neal got me the opportunity to actually audition as a singer for them. I sang in the studio and did recordings with them.

You can debate what I did or what I didn't do. But all the players make sense. Neal was definitely an engineer for Jay and the Americans. He was definitely there when Fagen and Becker were there. And I was his friend at that time. So not that much of a stretch.

What about recording with recording with Gene or Paul. Did you guys ever do any studio recordings together, demos or roughs?

Not really. Gene had always been encouraging me to go into the studio. We really were so young at that time, but to find money to go into the studio to do stuff was tough. I really didn't have anything that we really worked on. When I first met them [Gene & Steve] Gene was talking on and on about us recording. About writing and creating, getting a band together that did originals. So I said I could do that so I just started there writing an original song...

With Cathedral what sort of material were you doing up there?

We played "She." I can't remember, I don't think Steve had written "Goin' Blind" by that time so I don't think we played that. A couple of songs by Steve and I, I don't remember any titles because it was stuff we'd just started writing. Basically just a lot of copy stuff. We'd do "Mississippi Queen," stuff like that, a lot of the stuff Mountain was doing, hard rock stuff. We did a couple of concerts upstate. We played in some of the high schools. That was really as far as it went. It never bigger and if anything we made a couple of bucks playing in clubs and the hotels. We were able to get jobs in the hotels and make girlfriends and have a place to hang out - Have a room for free. That was really what it came down to.

Both Neal and Steve seem to have stayed in the circle as the first band, "Rainbow," got going, then Wicked Lester, and later KISS. Did you ever see Wicked Lester or KISS play in the club days?

Yeah, I saw them play at a place called the Daisy. I knew when I saw them that it was the beginning of something unusual. That I can honestly say! I was never impressed with Gene as a musician that much. As a fellow musician I thought he was OK. Stan was not a great guitar player. He was not by any lead standards. We had much better lead players around us in our circle of musicians at that time. But he wrote some good songs. Stan had a knack for writing and hearing a good song. One time we at his loft in Chinatown, and were finished playing with him and me and Steve, and Stan and I were he had to go to the post office, he had this old green mustang, and we're sitting outside he had to mail something and it like one o'clock in the morning and all of a sudden he looks at me and says, "You know, we've got to get a singer for this band because you and I will never be lead singers for this or any band." And I says, "Why do you say that?" And he's like, "I just don't have confidence in either one of us." So he was wrong about him and he was wrong about me.

So what are you doing these days musically?

I'm playing in a band called Rock Candy right now, that's a cover band. We're very popular and play all the time. I'm definitely doing a lot of stuff. I was just in the studio recently recording at Richie Cannata's studio. He came in and liked the session. Actually he was with us during the mix and offered to throw some sax work on the next couple of the songs we're going to record during the summertime. And everybody in the studio was hired as studio musicians, so I definitely qualify as a studio musician. I was paid for the time to be there and I was paid to also co-produce and setup of the session. The name of the production is called Renny Mann & The Middle Aged Dogs. It's a book that was recently published, a science fiction book, and the recording is CD companion to the book. It's a really cool story. There's two other songs from Renny Mann that's on iTunes right now. And I played on those too.

I also recorded with a guy who's a concert pianist. He competed for the Van Cliburn Award. This guy conducted orchestras. PhD, a professor of music, we were together for two years. He's brilliant, his name is John Partridge. Brilliant, brilliant musician. I wish I was still playing with him on some levels because he was a genius. But he couldn't play blues! I was in the studio with a drummer who played with the original Canned Heat band and we were rehearsing for a studio session and I brought in this guy John Partridge to play with Denny who had also toured with Jimmy Buffet. He's traditionally one of the great jazz/blues drummers. I brought this guy John to play with us and he couldn't play a blues riff to save his life. He couldn't catch a feel for it. He was stiff and was unable to play. This guy was a brilliant genius, but couldn't get into our groove at all. It just shows you, it doesn't matter what you know it matters how you play, how you feel, how you can interpret the music. And that's really the key about being a real musician.

That was also, back in the old days, part of my problem with playing with Gene and Stan. I felt a little bit different and isolated from them with my level of musicianship. I still do. When I was at that club that night, with Gene and Stan, and we were at Copperfields. Afterwards, we was supposed to drive me home and I accidentally insulted him and he didn't drive me home anymore. He dropped me off at Penn Station to take the train. Gene can be very very condescending, especially to musicians that were not touring on a world level and they were people who'd played with him and he says to me, "you gotta shake your ass up there. You gotta do the stuff you used to do. Why aren't you doing it like me?" I just said, "Gene, look there's a big difference between us. You're like the circus act of music and I'm the musician end. And that's the way it is." I said, "I don't look at music as that performance end. You're great at what you do and it's you, but it's not me." And he was real insulted by that because I was in a way saying "you're not a musician, you're just a circus performer." He's proven himself time and time again, so whatever he is, he is.

Are you surprised that they've lasted 40 years and become an iconic American band?

Not really, because I saw the nature of their gimmick back then, I was always kind of theatrical in my own way, but it was never to do something as calculated as that. What they did was totally calculated. They targeted a way to go and they just followed through. And then what they did was they figured out a way to make it better and better and better as they went along. Musicianship, they were never Jimi Hendrix. They're not Led Zeppelin. Musically they're not in greatest bands that ever played. Their songs are played on the radio, but never in the same consistency as the Who or the Stones, but they are notably a band of that international notoriety and also recognition, but on a different level. If they never put on makeup and did that stage stuff, I don't think they'd be playing like the Rolling Stones now. Not in a million years, but they did.

No one's going to deny that the gimmick took them places that the music didn't or wouldn't.

I think Gene was always frustrated on a level. That's why he came out with the album "The Elder." This is not something I've talked to Gene about, but an outside/kind of inside perspective. I felt he was always looking to do something bigger and grander, involved an orchestra, something that the Beatles used to incorporate into their music with real production. You could tell the difference from the other stuff they did. But that was Gene's influence totally.

So could it be your fault that after Copperfields he feels insulted and has to record something musically valid, so they unleash "The Elder" on the world {laughs}!?

I don't think *I* could interpret that way. You're welcome to interpret it that way. I don't really think that anything I would have done would have affected Gene Simmons in any particular way except for at that moment since we were old friends and all musicians together and we did play together and he knew who I was. You know, he also interpreted me as an Ace Frehley kind of guy. Ace was more of an alcohol/drunk kind of guy. Gene was as straight as an arrow. He didn't understand what people do when they get high, he just didn't understand it. And Stan was really the same way. I don't think I ever even saw Stan smoke pot, as far as I can remember. Maybe he did. I have some close friends who were friends with him at the High School of Music and Art, a guy named Andy who ended up working as a roadie to him. Now he was very much involved in pot because he was one of the first people who ever got me to smoke. I know he may have had a connection with that somewhere along the line. Or maybe he just liked Andy because Andy was a really interesting guy.

Paul admits to a bit of experimentation in his autobiography, "Face The Music," so that's pretty much a given.

I kind of remember that there was a possibility. We never smoked together. But Gene... NEVER. I can't even remember Gene ever having a drink.

Nope, he suggests he hasn't touched any of it. Knowing both of these guys separately, you knew Gene and you knew Stan, before Gene and Stan knew each other, are you surprised that they managed to work together - that they gelled as a unit?

No. I'm not surprised at all. In fact the moment I saw them together I really realized, and I hate to say it because I have a knack for seeing musicians and people who play together. And one thing I've been able to see, you can tell who work well together. And I think that their heads were in the same place. More than the musicianship. Stan always talked about doing exactly what he did. And Gene always talked about doing what he did. And that's what I remember. If you hung out with Stan and talked about Rock 'N' Roll, he would compare himself to people who he was going to be like. I remember he used to love Paul Rodgers. Gene used to always talk about Paul McCartney. But they always had that they wanted to become a rock star.

And Stanley always had a knack about him that was kind of aloof to certain people, a self-certainty. He knew in himself that he was going to become famous. He knew it. Gene, on the other hand, knew he wanted to be famous. When I knew Stan I had a feeling that he had that sense, the way he wrote, an absoluteness about the way he played and he knew what he wanted to get out of it. That I was very convinced about. Gene, on the other hand, was still looking searching at that time for what would be right. He was looking for somebody to latch onto to find that. And when he met Stan he found that. That's really the way that I see it.

Are you surprised that Steve Coronel didn't stay a part of the story?

Well there was friction between him and Stan. That's why it really didn't work out. It wasn't Gene, because he and Steve grew up together. They were kids together.

Yeah, they played in bands together going way back, the Long Island Sounds...

They had Bar Mitzvah pictures together. I mean these guys were friends from Jackson Heights. They grew up together, they were buddies. When Wicked Lester recorded upstate I was there. I stayed at a house of Gene's girlfriend, somewhere near Woodstock or someplace upstate I think, and I remember seeing them then and thinking that this band with Steve could really go some place. 'Cause Steve always involved me because we were very close buddies. Steve and I remain probably best friends from that time until now. I'm probably one of the few people that still remain on a regular basis talking to him every other week. That's how far our friendship has gone, and is.

Are you surprised by how easily they got rid of Steve? I believe Gene did the deed that he was asked to fire Steve from the band...

I would imagine that Stan put him up to it. And this is only conjecture, but I'd say that Stan probably had his issues with Steve. Steve could be very very assertive. If he thinks he's right... And Stan was the same personality. See, Gene will roll with you musically. If you've got a good idea he'll investigate and he'll find a way to use it and make it his and use it. But Stan was very much his own guy. And Steve was very much his own guy. And two of those guys playing guitar -- that's where the friction went down. Steve was a better guitarist than Stan in a lot of ways. He's much better at lead and riffing.

If Steve would have stuck with it he probably would have been a lot more interesting than Ace Frehley. Steve was capable of writing multi-track level lines. Later he was in a band called Lover in New York City and they were verge of real stardom. A real potential band that couldn't get over the top. They had real notoriety. The truth of the matter is that Steve was technically a better guitar player than Stan was. Stan was more of a rhythm guitar player. I remember Stan doing more Neil Young kind of stuff. That's the songs we did together. We did "Ohio" together where we did the two harmonies. It sounded good. I enjoyed playing that with him. Paul Stanley playing "Ohio." But he did!

The KISSFAQ thanks Marty for taking the time to share his memories with us!

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