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Simmons, Los Angeles, California, USA on October 15, 2012
|Birth name||Chaim Witz (pron.: ; Hebrew: חיים ויץ)|
|Also known as||"The Demon"|
|Born||) August 25, 1949
Tirat HaCarmel, Israel
|Genres||Heavy metal, hard rock|
|Occupations||Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, entrepreneur|
|Instruments||Vocals, bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, drums|
|Associated acts||Kiss, Wicked Lester|
Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz; Hebrew: חיים ויץ; August 25, 1949) is an Israeli-born American rock bass guitarist, singer-songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur and actor. Known by his stage persona The Demon, he is the bass guitarist/co-lead vocalist of Kiss, a hard rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s. With Kiss, Simmons has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.
Chaim Witz was born at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel in 1949. With his mother, he emigrated to Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City at the age of eight, speaking no English. His mother Flóra "Florence" Klein (formerly Kovács) was born in Jánd, Hungary. The name Klein, which means "small" in German, is sometimes used informally in Hungarian as Kis; this however, did not give the band its name. Florence and her brother, Larry Klein, were the only members of the family to survive the Holocaust. Simmons' father, Feri Witz, also Hungarian-born, remained in Israel, where he had one other son and three daughters. Simmons says the family was "dirt poor," scraping by on bread and milk. In the United States, Simmons changed his name to Eugene Klein (later Gene Klein), adopting his mother's maiden name. He was a part of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as a child, from 7 am to 9:30 pm.
Before his musical career began, Simmons worked a variety of jobs in the New York City area. An "excellent typist", he served as an assistant to an editor of fashion magazine Vogue and also spent several months as a sixth-grade instructor on the Upper West Side.
Simmons became involved with his first band, Lynx, then renamed The Missing Links, when he was a teenager. Eventually, he disbanded The Missing Links to form The Long Island Sounds, the name being a play on words relating to the estuary separating Long Island from Westchester County, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. While he played in these bands, he kept up odd jobs on the side to make more money, including trading used comic books. Simmons attended Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York. He then joined a new band, Bullfrog Bheer, and the band recorded a demo, "Leeta"; this was later included on the Kiss box set.
Simmons formed the rock band Wicked Lester in the early 1970s with Stanley Harvey Eisen (now known as Paul Stanley) and recorded one album, which was never released. Dissatisfied with Wicked Lester's sound and look, Simmons and Stanley attempted to fire their band members; they were met with resistance, and they quit Wicked Lester, walking away from their record deal with Epic Records. They decided to form the ultimate rock band, and started looking for a drummer. Simmons and Stanley found an ad placed by Peter Criscoula, known as Peter Criss, who was playing clubs in Brooklyn at the time; they joined and started out as a trio. Paul Frehley, better known as Ace Frehley, responded to an ad they put in The Village Voice for a lead guitar player, and soon joined them. Kiss released their self-titled debut album in February 1974. Stanley took on the role of lead performer on stage, while Simmons became the driving force behind what became an extensive Kiss merchandising franchise. The eye section of his "Vampire" makeup with KISS came from the wing design of comic book character Black Bolt.
In 1983, while Kiss' fame was waning, the members took off their trademark make-up and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity that continued into the 1990s. At this time, Peter Criss, the original drummer, had decided to leave the band, and a replacement was sought to fill the drummers vacancy. The new drummer was Paul Charles Caravello, who went by the stage name of Eric Carr, and played for KISS from 1980 until his early death at the age of 41 in 1991. The band hosted its own fan conventions in 1995, and fan feedback about the original Kiss members reunion influenced the highly successful 1996–1997 Alive Worldwide reunion tour. In 1998, the band released Psycho Circus. Since then, the original line-up has once again dissolved, with Tommy Thayer replacing Ace Frehley on lead guitar and Eric Singer (who performed with Kiss from 1992 through 1996) replacing Peter Criss on drums.
Stage makeup and persona
During an interview in 1999, Simmons was asked about the source and significance of Kiss' stage makeup and personas:
I've always been a fan of Americana, and Americana has always been about imagery, often above content. I think there's nothing wrong with that. The world worships this culture. Most people only think about America in terms of rock & roll, movies and television. Kiss is very all-American, in the sense that our constituency has never had anything in common with critics... because our power, our lifeblood, our very reason for existence is our fans. Without them, we'd be nothing.
Simmons was a supporter of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration. He supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, writing on his website: "I'm ashamed to be surrounded by people calling themselves liberal who are, in my opinion, spitting on the graves of brave American soldiers who gave their life to fight a war that wasn't theirs...in a country they've never been to... simply to liberate the people therein". In a follow-up, Simmons explained his position and wrote about his love and support for the United States: "I wasn't born here. But I have a love for this country and its people that knows no bounds. I will forever be grateful to America for going into World War II, when it had nothing to gain, in a country that was far away... and rescued my mother from the Nazi German concentration camps. She is alive and I am alive because of America. And, if you have a problem with America, you have a problem with me."
During the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and Lebanon, Simmons sent a televised message of support (in both English and Hebrew) to an Israeli soldier seriously wounded in fighting in Lebanon, calling him his "hero."
In 2010, Simmons said he regretted voting for Barack Obama and criticized the 2009 health care reforms. Following Obama's 2011 Mideast speech, in which the President called on Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a settlement "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," Simmons told CNBC that Obama was gravely misguided. "If you have never been to the moon, you can't issue policy about the moon. For the president to be sitting in Washington D.C. and saying, 'Go back to your '67 borders in Israel' – how about you live there and try to defend an indefensible border – nine miles wide?" Simmons also accused the United Nations of being "the most pathetic body on the face of the earth."
During his visit to Israel in 2011, he stated that the artists refusing to perform in Israel for political reasons are "stupid," referring to artists who canceled planned concerts in Israel.
Simmons is a science-fiction and comic book fan and published several science fiction fanzines, among them Id, Cosmos (which eventually merged with Stilletto to become Cosmos-Stilletto and then Faun), Tinderbox, Sci-Fi Showcase, Mantis and Adventure. He also contributed to other fanzines, among them BeABohema and Sirruish. In the late 1960s, he changed his name to Gene Simmons, after legendary rockabilly performer Jumpin' Gene Simmons. Simmons' legal name after arriving from Israel is Gene Klein. Simmons has said that he has never had alcohol or recreational drugs.
Simmons lives in Beverly Hills, California, with Canadian former Playboy Playmate and actress Shannon Tweed whom he had dated for 28 years. He often joked that he and Tweed were "happily unmarried" for over 20 years. He often stated, "Marriage is an institution, and I don't want to live in an institution." Simmons and Tweed finally wed on October 1, 2011, at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. They have two children: a son, Nick (born January 22, 1989), and a daughter, Sophie (born July 7, 1992). He formerly had live-in relationships with Cher and Diana Ross. Simmons can speak Hungarian, German, English, and Hebrew.
Homecoming visit to Israel
In March 2011, Simmons visited Israel, where he was born. He described the trip as a "life changing experience". He talked about how he still feels that he is an Israeli: "I'm Israeli. I'm a stranger in America. I'm an outsider". While there, Gene met his half-brother Kobi, and triplet half-sisters Drora, Sharon, and Ogenia. Simmons has plans to take his band KISS to Israel. He has always said that he is an ardent supporter of Israel. At a press conference in Israel, he spoke both Hebrew and English.
- In February 2002, Simmons was interviewed on the NPR radio show Fresh Air and asked about his claim of having had sex with 4,600 women. He told Terry Gross: "If you want to welcome me with open arms, I'm afraid you're also going to have to welcome me with open legs," paraphrasing a lyric from The Who's 1981 hit song "You Better You Bet". Gross replied: "That's a really obnoxious thing to say." At the time, Simmons refused to grant permission to NPR to make the interview available online. However, it appears in print in Gross's book All I Did Was Ask (ISBN 1-4013-0010-3 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]) and unauthorized transcripts are available. NPR re-broadcast part of the interview in August 2007. Simmons' bandmate Paul Stanley has frequently used the phrase "... welcomed us with open arms and open legs" in onstage patter during Kiss concerts.
- In 2004, during an interview in Melbourne, Australia, while talking about Islamic extremists, Simmons described Islam as a "vile culture", saying that Muslim women had to walk behind their husbands, were not allowed to be educated or to own houses. He said: "They want to come and live right where you live and they think that you're evil." Amongst ensuing criticism, Australian Muslim of the Year Susan Carland argued that Simmons' stereotyping of Muslims was inaccurate. Simmons later clarified his comments on his website, saying he had been talking specifically about Muslim extremists.
- In 2005, Simmons was sued by a former girlfriend, Georgeann Walsh Ward, who said she had been "defamed" in the VH1 documentary When Kiss Ruled the World and portrayed as an "unchaste woman". A settlement was reached in June 2006.
- In 2007, Simmons openly spoke out against music piracy, and called for file-sharers to be sued. A year later, he threatened further lawsuits, and to withhold new recordings, if file-sharing continued. In 2010, Anonymous staged a DDoS on his Web site, prompting Simmons to hit back with provocative comments once he was back online, at which point Anonymous staged a second DDoS, taking Simmons' site down again.
- In 2011, Kiss was removed from the lineup for Michael Jackson's tribute concert because of Simmons' allegations and negative comments regarding Jackson's personal life and legal issues.
Gene Simmons has used various bass guitars during his career including:
- Axe Bass (Kramer, Jackson, B.C. Rich and now Cort)
- Punisher Bass (B.C.Rich, now made by Cort)
- Spector Gene Simmons Signature
- Pedulla Basses (mainly in the 1980s and early 1990s)
- Gibson Grabber (mainly in Kiss' early years)
- Gibson Ripper (mainly in Kiss' early years)
- Gibson Thunderbird (seen used in 1977 Largo,MD concert video)
- Custom Lobue bass (Wicked Lester, very early Kiss circa 73–78)
- Carvin Acoustic Bass
- Cort Guitars Signature GS-1 Bass
He uses Ampeg SVT CL Series amps with 8x10 cabinets. He uses Silver Herco Flex .75 Nylon Flat Guitar Picks. He uses D'Addario EXL165 Nickel Wound Custom Light .45-.105 Long Scale Bass Strings and Dunlop Electric Bass Guitar Stainless Steel Heavy .050 -.110 strings. In 2010 Gene Simmons collaborated with Cort Guitars to make his own signature bass line called the GS-AXE-2.
Film and television career
Simmons has been involved with such television projects as:
- My Dad the Rock Star, a cartoon by the Canadian animation company Nelvana, about the mild mannered son of a Gene Simmons-like rock star;
- Mr. Romance, a show created and hosted by Simmons on the Oxygen cable television channel;
- Rock School, a reality show in which Simmons tries to make a rock band out of a group of students of Christ's Hospital School in the first season, and in the second, a group of kids from a comprehensive school in Lowestoft;
- Gene Simmons Family Jewels, a reality show documenting the personal lives of Simmons, his wife, his son and daughter
On March 9, 2011, Simmons and Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley and E! Entertainment announced that they have finalized a production and development deal to create an as-yet-untitled comedic half-hour kids' television series. Simmons appeared as a psychic working at the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, California on the American hidden camera prank TV series I Get That a Lot.
Awards and recognition
On January 28, 2011, Simmons was in Dallas, Texas, to host the Aces & Angels Salute to the Troops charity event. While in Dallas, Simmons was presented the key to the city in Dallas, Texas and a street, Gene Simmons Boulevard, was named for him. Simmons and Tweed also visited Ft. Hood to support the Troops as a part of the Aces & Angels event. On June 15 of the same year he was given the key to the city in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2012, Simmons was awarded the Golden God award by the Revolver magazine.
|1978||Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park||The Demon||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley||TV movie|
|1984||Runaway||Dr. Charles Luther|
|1986||Trick or Treat||Nuke (radio DJ)|
|1986||Never Too Young to Die||Carruthers / Velvet Von Ragner|
|1987||Wanted: Dead or Alive||Malak Al Rahim|
|1988||The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years||Himself||Paul Stanley||Documentary|
|1999||Detroit Rock City||Himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley||Simmons also produced|
|2002||The New Guy||Reverend|
|2002||Wish You Were Dead||Vinny|
|2008||Detroit Metal City||Jack lll Dark||Japanese movie|
|2010||Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage||Himself||Documentary|
|1974||The Mike Douglas Show||June 11, 1974||Himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley||Kiss' first national television appearance, performed "Firehouse". During the interview segment, comedian Totie Fields, after looking at Simmons in his full Kiss makeup and costume, remarks to Douglas that underneath it all, "he's probably a nice Jewish boy."|
|1976||The Paul Lynde Halloween Special||October 29, 1976||Himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley||The band performed "Detroit Rock City" "King of the Night Time World" and "Beth"|
|1979||Tomorrow||Himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley|
|1985||Miami Vice||"Prodigal Son"||Newton Blade|
|1986||The Hitchhiker||"O.D.Feelin'"(Jan.28)||Mr. Big|
|1997||Action League Now!||"Rock-A-Big-Baby"||Toy version of himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley||Performed "Rock and Roll All Nite"|
|1998||MADtv||October 31, 1998 (#406)||Himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley.||Halloween special; performed in five sketches|
|2001||Family Guy||"A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas"||Animated version of himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley|
|2001||Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?||May 27, 2001||Himself||Won $32,000 for a charity|
|2001||The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||June 12, 2001||Himself||Almost licked Jon Stewart's face in response to Jon being unable to explain the difference between pleasure and joy to a man with a 'twelve-inch tongue'|
|2002||Family Guy||"Road to Europe"||Animated version of himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley|
|2002||The Tonight Show with Jay Leno||September 6, 2002||Himself|
|2003||King of the Hill||"Reborn to Be Wild"||Jessie|
|2004||Third Watch||"Higher Calling"||Donald Mann|
|2004||Third Watch||"Monsters"||Donald Mann|
|2004||Third Watch||"More Monsters"||Donald Mann|
|2005||American Idol||"Auditions: New Orleans"||Himself- guest judge|
|2005||Family Guy||"Don't Make Me Over"||Animated version of himself/ Prisoner No. 3|
|2005||Mind of Mencia||Episode #1.7||Himself|
|2006||The View||August 1, 2006||Himself||Gene Simmons Family Jewels|
|2007||SpongeBob SquarePants||"20,000 Patties Under the Sea"||Sea Monster|
|2007||Shrink Rap||"Gene Simmons"||Himself||UK's More4 show|
|2008||Entertainment Tonight||January 2, 2008||Himself|
|2008||Jimmy Kimmel Live!||January 18, 2008||Himself|
|2008||Rachael Ray||March 11, 2008||Himself|
|2008||Criss Angel Mindfreak||"Mindfreaking with the Stars"||Himself|
|2008||Ugly Betty||"The Kids Are Alright"||Himself|
|2008||Ugly Betty||"A Thousand Words by Friday"||Himself|
|2008||Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?||Episode #3.9||Himself||Won $500,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation charity|
|2008||The Celebrity Apprentice||First three episodes||Himself||Won $20,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation charity; Fired in the third episode|
|2008||Jingles||Celebrity judge||Mark Burnett reality show|
|2009||Glenn Martin DDS||Glenn Gary, Glenn Martin||himself|
|2009||American Idol||Season Finale||Himself||Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley||Performed medley of 3 songs with contestant Adam Lambert|
|2009||The Fairly OddParents||"Wishology – Part 1: The Big Beginning"||Animated version of himself||Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley|
|2009||The Fairly OddParents||"Wishology – Part 3: The Final Ending"||Animated version of himself||Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley|
|2010||I Get That a Lot||Episode 2||As Himself||Simmons appeared as a psychic working at the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, California|
|2010||Extreme Makeover: Home Edition||Episode 160||As Himself||The band Kiss made a personal appearance during the Wagstaff family's vacation in Disneyland and honored them as special guests at one of their concerts. Kiss also made a personal appearance at a local school where a donation of new musical instruments was made in the Wagstaff family's name.|
|2010||I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band!||Episode 1 And 5||As Himself||Discussing the requirements of being in a rock band.|
|2011||Castle||To Love and Die in LA||As Himself|
Music video appearances
Video game appearances
Gene Simmons is a playable character in Tony Hawk's Underground, unlocked when completing the story mode on Normal difficulty, and also appears with his Kiss bandmates in the Hotter Than Hell level to play one of three songs upon collecting the four K-I-S-S letters.
Gene Simmons' Kiss character, The Demon, is a playable character in Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child. Simmons also has a large role in the 2010 music video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. In addition to narrating the main storyline and doing advertising for the game, the Kiss song "Love Gun" is playable.
- Gene Simmons (1978)
- Sex Money Kiss (audiobook CD, 2003)
- Asshole (2004)
- Speaking in Tongues (spoken word CD, 2004)
In 2002, Simmons launched Gene Simmons' Tongue, a men's lifestyle magazine. The magazine lasted five issues before being discontinued.
In the mid-2000s, Simmons was a principal investor in "Gene Simmons' Toyota" in Newbridge, New Jersey. As a public service, he would discuss the dealership and give financial advice on a local high school radio station.
- Kiss and Make-Up, Gene Simmons (ISBN 0-609-81002-2 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK])
- Sex Money Kiss, Gene Simmons (ISBN 1-893224-86-4 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK])
- Kiss: The Early Years, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley (ISBN 0-609-81028-6 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK])
- Kiss: Behind the Mask, David Leaf and Ken Sharp (ISBN 0-446-96524-6 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK])
- Ladies of the Night: A Historical and Personal Perspective on the Oldest Profession in the World, Gene Simmons (ISBN 1-59777-501-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK])
- Biography. GeneSimmons.com. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- Message Board – AETV Community – Real Life. Drama. Boards.aetv.com. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- Associated, The (March 22, 2011). "Lead singer of Kiss Gene Simmons slams Israel boycotters". Haaretz. Israel. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- .Kiss and Make-Up (Simmons' autobiography)
- Lewis, Barbara (June 4, 1978). "Gene Simmons Was Sixth Grade Teacher". The Lakeland Ledger.
- Gene Simmons Family Jewels – Under the Knife? – Wednesday, Nov 3, 2010 – mReplay Livedash TV Transcript – Livedash – Search what is being mentioned across national TV. Livedash. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- News. GeneSimmons.com. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- News. GeneSimmons.com. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- "Gene Simmons hails Israeli soldier". The Washington Post. Associated Press. August 26, 2006. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- Gavin, Patrick (December 6, 2010). "Gene Simmons Knocks President Obama". The Politico. Retrieved December 6, 2010.
- Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa, Barack Obama, The White House, May 19, 2011
- Ben Gedalyahu, Tzvi (May 22, 2011). "Video of Rock Star Gene Simmons: Obama Doesn’t Have a Clue". Israel National News. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
- "ג'ין סימונס: "היוצרים מחרימי ישראל – טיפשים"". YNet. March 23, 2011. Retrieved March 23, 2011.
- "Kiss Frontman Gene Simmons Voices Support For Mitt Romney, Regrets Voting For Obama In ’08". Mediaite. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-04-25.
- "Gene Simmons: 60′s Fanzine Publisher", October 2008
- Lollar, Michael (June 14, 2009). "Tongues were wagging as KISS star Gene Simmons visited Memphis". Memphis Commercial Appeal. Retrieved June 14, 2009.
- "Gene Simmons is married". The People. October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
- "Gene Simmons and long term girlfriend marry". MSN - Wonderwall. October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2011.
- Josef Federman. "AP Interview: Simmons blasts Israel boycotters". Yahoo!.
- Late Night Rocker (March 31, 2011). "Kiss Mask Webzine: Meet Gene Simmons' Brother and Sisters". Kissmaskwebzine.blogspot.com. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- Brinn, David (March 23, 2011). "Kiss rocker Gene Simmons back in Israel after 51 years". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved August 10, 2011.
- Gene Simmons in Israel / ג'ין סימונס בישראל on YouTube
- "Terry Gross interview with Gene Simmons". Internet Archive. Retrieved August 13, 2009.
- The Unpredictable Gene Simmons. NPR. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- "Outrage as KISS player mouths off on Muslims". Sydney Morning Herald, May 14, 2004
- KISS Singer's Motion to Dismiss Defamation Suit Denied. Law.com. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- Kiss's Gene Simmons Settles Defamation Suit by Ex-Girlfriend – Music | Songs | Country | Rap. FOXNews.com (June 28, 2006). Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- Billboard Q&A: Gene Simmons, 12 Nov 2007
- ArsTechnica 28 Oct 2010 - Gene Simmons vs. Anonymous: Who's the bigger tool?
- "KISS Added, Then Removed, From Michael Jackson Tribute". UpVenue. August 17, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
- Gene Simmons Family Jewels – A&E TV. Aetv.com. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- > News > Kissonline.com; News. Kissonline.Com. Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- "Gene Simmons poses as psychic for US prank show". January 7, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- ‘Revolver’ Golden Gods Awards Winners Announced!. revolvermag.com. April-16-2012. Retrieved April 21, 2012.
- "Gene Simmons To Appear In 'Extract' Film". Blabbermouth.net. May 3, 2009. Retrieved August 14, 2009.
- "Planet MADtv – Episode No. 406 (Aired October 31, 1998)". Retrieved June 5, 2009.
- "The Daily Show-Gene Simmons". Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- "Gene Simmons to judge Burnett's 'Jingles'.". Retrieved March 14, 2009.
- Tongue is cheeky / Kiss' Gene Simmons combines sex, showmanship in his men's magazine. Sfgate.com (August 28, 2002). Retrieved on February 1, 2011.
- Tom interviews Gene Simmons WFMU.org (December 7, 2004). Retrieved on January 29, 2013.