Gene Simmons: Comics, Nuggets And A Bright Future


Brian Lowe

Gene Simmons has been perfectly happy as a member of Kiss, the band he co-founded in New York City circa 1973 with friend Paul Stanley. Although Stanley has toured outside the band before and, more recently, taken to performing with his R&B cover band, Simmons was reluctant.

“The idea of solo tour never appealed to me,” he says, speaking from his California home on a recent Sunday afternoon. That was until he teamed up with Wizard World, the company that produces a series of comic book conventions across the country. The organizers tapped Simmons, a lifelong comic enthusiast, for some appearances and asked if he’d be interested in playing live as well.

“I said, ‘I’d love to, but the conventions don’t sound good.’ These are hollow halls that don’t have good acoustics,” he notes. “Why not take over a theater or arena someplace and do some shows? That’s really where the genesis of the idea started.”

To form his band, he tapped players who had worked with a variety of other acts including former Mötley Crüe vocalist John Corabi, and committed to five dates. Key to his commitment was making sure that fans had affordable tickets, keeping the price range to around $35. “I didn’t want people to get gouged on tickets,” he offers.

Simmons, however, is a notorious multi-tasker with a variety of business concerns. He’s hitting areas, including St. Louis, that are home to the Rock & Brews restaurants that he and Stanley have been opening across the U.S. The pair will expand the franchise to include a resort and casino in Bramen, Oklahoma, where Simmons appears on April 6.

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JOHN 5 Takes Partial Credit For Reuniting GENE SIMMONS And ACE FREHLEY In Beverly Hills


In a brand new interview with the “Talk Toomey” podcast, former MARILYN MANSON and current ROB ZOMBIE guitarist John 5 (real name: John William Lowery) took partial credit for reuniting Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley at the former KISS guitarist’s February 3 concert in Beverly Hills, California, marking the first time the KISS legends were photographed together since their 2014 induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Asked how he came to be involved with Ace and Gene‘s reunion, John 5 said (hear audio below): “Gene is my buddy, just like Peter [Criss, original KISS drummer], Paul [Stanley, KISS frontman] and Ace. I e-mailed Gene and I said, ‘Gene, hear me out. Let’s go down the street from your house. Ace is playing right down the street. Let’s go have some laughs, let’s go watch Ace. I’ll pick you up, we’ll park right in front, we’ll walk in, and we’ll have a great time. ‘Cause me and Gene, we get together and we laugh and we have a really good time. I mean, I love the guy — love the guy. Iv’e known him for years, and he’s the funniest, best guy.”

He continued: “So I’m thinking he’s gonna e-mail me back and go, ‘I can’t do that,’ or, ‘That’s not a good idea,’ or, ‘I’m busy.’ And he e-mails me back and he goes, ‘Okay. Let’s do it.’ And I set it all up, made sure we had our parking right in front. And we walked in. And we were sitting in the room. Ace wasn’t there yet. Ace walks in, and I’ll tell you, man, those guys started talking like they have been… They didn’t miss a beat. They were just talking like no time has passed. And they were talking about [the early days of KISS performing at] the Coventry [club in Queens, New York], and they were talking about the Daisy [club in Amityville, New York], and it was so cool. It was really cool. And I didn’t say a word; I just listened. ‘Cause these guys were talking and just talking and talking. And it was so great, and we all had a great night. Ace sounded amazing. Ace sounded great. And me and Gene were watching on the side of the stage and we had a blast. And we just all had… It was a night I’ll never forget, and I’m so glad we did it.”

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