Gene Simmons keeps KISS classic

Ken Sharp | Goldmine

Frank White photo credit

Outspoken and brash, arrogant and opinionated, profane and vulgar, supremely narcissistic and sexist, are among the colorful descriptions both the public and media foist at KISS founding member Gene Simmons. Acutely aware of how he is perceived, Simmons even named his last solo album, “Asshole.”

When meeting with the “God of Thunder,” he’s polite and gracious proving there’s much more behind the self-proclaimed “Man of 1000 Faces.” The band, or brand, as Simmons often likes to describe the Roll and Roll Hall of Famers, are not content to rest on their laurels and count their mountainous pile of greenbacks, but continue to press the envelope with a keen understanding of the transformative power of how a rock ‘n’ roll band can be marketed in the 21st Century. Yet as Simmons attests, his aspirations for KISS have far exceeded his expectations.

“It is really weird that KISS, which never really started out as anything, but this bizarre dream of four knuckleheads off the streets of New York just wanting to do one record, that four decades later, the RIAA crowned us as the No. 1 gold record award-winning group of all time in America. It’s amazing especially since we’ve only had three hit singles, ‘Beth,’ ‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ and ‘Forever.’”

For a group routinely dismissed by short-sighted critics as a flash in the pan, a joke band comprised of talentless cretinous musical goons soon to be forgotten and quickly discarded on the junk heap of failed rock bands past, KISS are having the last laugh. Detractors be damned, 43 years since the original band — Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss — first came together, KISS continue to transcend the parameters of what a rock band can do; whether starring in their own Scooby Doo cartoon (“Scooby Doo & KISS: Rock & Roll Mystery”), teaming up with menswear designer/clothier John Varvatos or collaborating with Japanese teen sensations Momoiro Clover Z on “Samurai Son,” the band’s first No. 1 single in the “Land of the Rising Sun,” yesterday and today KISS stubbornly follow the beat of their new drum and continue to thrive, loudly.

We sat down with the band’s resident “God of Thunder,” Gene Simmons, who offered a primer in all things KISS, past, present and future.

Goldmine: The act of songwriting was something you worked hard to master.

GENE SIMMONS: Well, initially I just sang in bands. We did cover songs; everything from Otis Redding to Wilson Pickett to The Ventures and, of course, Beatles songs, whatever was happening at the time. Listening to The Everly Brothers helped me learn how to sing harmony, too. Then my mother bought me a Gibson SG Standard and I didn’t know what to do with my fingers so initially I was just pressing single notes. Then I noticed the way people were holding C chords and G chords and all that and started to fool around.

This interview ran in the January 2017 issue. Click here for a digital copy or email for a print copy.

This interview ran in the January 2017 issue. Click the above cover for a digital copy or email for a print copy.

GM: How would you describe the early songs you wrote?

GS: The first songs, in retrospect, were the kind of things Lennon and McCartney wrote but I don’t mean anywhere near as good. People would ask them what their words mean and both of them would say, “We have no idea, we just put words on there that sounded good.” And initially, the kinds of songs that I wrote as a kid didn’t really mean a hell of a lot. I had a song called “My Uncle is a Raft.” One of the lyrics was “My uncle is a raft and he always keeps me floating.” I had fond feelings about my uncle George and I’m sure all that McCartney stuff like “Uncle Albert” and the lyrics “hands across the water” really don’t mean anything. It’s not like “Penny Lane,” which really meant something about his childhood memories. But a lot of the words in Beatles songs like “I Am The Walrus” don’t mean a lot; they’re just interesting words that are stuck against the melody and the meter. So those first few songs of mine were very simple. Stylistically, they were vaguely Beatlesque or Everly Brothers-ish, “Wake Up Little Susie,” that kind of stuff.

GM: What was the breakthrough for you as a songwriter?

GS: The irony was that I noticed if I was gonna be in a band, I didn’t see myself as a lead singer. Physically I was too big and I didn’t see guys my size doing that. I could sing well enough I guess, at least as good as Eric Burdon and (Mick) Jagger, those guys, who sing pretty straight ahead. I mean, anybody can sing “Satisfaction.” There’s no vocal histrionics on it but I noticed everybody was looking for bass players because there were plenty of guitar players and plenty of drummers. So I could play a little guitar. My mother bought me a Kent bass, a bass which looked like a Hofner, the one Paul McCartney played in The Beatles, but of course was a cheap version made by the Japanese. Bands immediately wanted me to join their group because they didn’t have a bass player and because I knew chords. If someone said, “Play an A or B or G,” I knew where they were on the fretboard. So I immediately joined bands. The first band I joined might have been The Missing Lynx and then I really hit my stride with a group called The Long Island Sounds and then after that we had a group called Cathedral which had a Hammond B-3 organ. By that time I’d been starting to write my own songs or co-writing songs. One of the early ones was a song called “She,” which KISS later recorded for the “Dressed to Kill” album. I wrote that with the guitar player in one of my bands, Stephen Coronel; I used to go to school with him. That song and a few others including “Goin’ Blind,” which was initially titled “Little Lady,” wound up being recorded by KISS.  Continue reading

The success of KISS Kruise VI

Ken Sharp | Goldmine

2016_KISS-Key-Web-360x360By Ken Sharp

Back in 1975, a passionate KISS fan from Terre Haute, Indiana named Bill Starkey took matters into his own hands in attempt to get his favorite band played on the radio. In short stead, the KISS Army was born. That blood, sweat and tears ethos mining fierce dedication and commitment to championing the cause of their musical superheroes continues unabated more than 40 years on. And as KISS Kruise VI: Creatures of The Deep sets to leave the port of Miami, Florida with stops in Cozumel, Mexico and the Grand Cayman Islands for a five-day excursion of frolic, fun, hijinks and rock ‘n’ roll debauchery on the high seas, that same KISS Army are now getting their sea legs adopting an altogether different guise, the KISS Navy. Over 2,400 passengers from 35 countries are back to share an unforgettable journey with the hottest band in the world.

Standing in the port, I’m witness to friendships being rekindled and allegiances reignited as thousands of fans from Germany to Japan, Australia to Brazil, England to France, Russia to Sweden, most decked out in KISS T-shirts, many wearing full KISS makeup, scamper onto the ship with the excitement of the Tin Man, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion off to see the Wizard on the yellow brick road; and in this case, that yellow brick road leads them face to face with their heroes, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer — KISS.

This is the band’s sixth cruise and they’re selling out quicker than ever. Greg Hounshell, 46, a realtor based in Wytheville, Virginia has been waiting all year to make it back on the ship and he enthuses: “It’s time for the KISS Navy Reunion. I look forward to this all year. There is simply nothing like it. As a fifth time cruiser, it’s my chance to spend four days with the friends I’ve made from past years and make new friends for the future. The band works seamlessly to give the cruisers dozens of activities to choose from. The band lineups are always good and this year there are some new faces and groups to enjoy. I’ve been blessed to be on these KISS Kruises and wouldn’t miss it for the world. The friends I see on the boat are some of the best people I know. I’ve even started meeting up with them on activities throughout the year. There are no fans like KISS fans and there is no cruise like the KISS Kruise.”

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KISS Album Discography


KISS album discography

The following is a selected discography of KISS albums from Goldmine’s Standard Catalog of American Records.


Kiss-AliveNBLP7020 Alive! 1975 40.00
—Dark blue labels; with booklet

NBLP7020 Alive! 1976 25.00
—Tan labels with desert scene, “Casablanca” label

NBLP7020 Alive! 1977 18.00
—Tan labels with desert scene, “Casablanca Record and FilmWorks” label

822780-1 Alive! 1984 12.00

NBLP7076 Alive II 1977 18.00
—Without inserts

822781-1 Alive II 1984 12.00

NB20128 [DJ] A Taste of Platinum 1978 50.00
—Promo-only sampler from Double Platinum

NBLP7270 Creatures of the Night 1982 40.00
—Original version has band with makeup

824154-1 Creatures of the Night 1984 10.00
—Reissue; band without its makeup on cover

NBLP7025 Destroyer 1976 30.00
—Dark blue label

NBLP7025 Destroyer 1976 18.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca” label

NBLP7025 Destroyer 1977 15.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca Record and FilmWorks” label

824149-1 Destroyer 1984 10.00

NBLP7100 Double Platinum 1978 40.00
—With “platinum award” cardboard insert and “Double Platinum Kiss Gear” order form

NBLP7100 Double Platinum 1978 18.00
—Without inserts

824155-1 Double Platinum 1984 12.00

NBLP7016 Dressed to Kill 1975 30.00
—Dark blue label

NBLP7016 Dressed to Kill 1976 18.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca” label

824148-1 Dressed to Kill 1984 10.00

NBLP7152 Dynasty 1979 18.00
—With poster and merchandise order form

NBLP7152 Dynasty 1979 12.00
—With neither poster nor order form

812770-1 Dynasty 1983 10.00

NBLP7006 Hotter Than Hell 1974 30.00
—Dark blue label

NBLP7006 Hotter Than Hell 1976 18.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca” label

NBLP7006 Hotter Than Hell 1977 15.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca Record and FilmWorks” label

824147-1 Hotter Than Hell 1984 10.00

NB9001 Kiss 1974 80.00
—First Warner Bros.-distributed version does NOT have “Kissin’ Time

NBLP7001 Kiss 1974 30.00
—All renumbered versions have “Kissin’ Time”; dark blue label

NBLP7001 Kiss 1976 18.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca” label

NBLP7001 Kiss 1977 15.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca Record and FilmWorks” label

824146-1 Kiss 1984 10.00

NB9001 Kiss 1974 50.00
—Second Warner Bros.-distributed version DOES have “Kissin’ Time” on Side 2 (RE-1 on label)

NBLP7225 Kiss Unmasked 1980 12.00
—With neither poster nor order form

NBLP7057 Love Gun 1977 40.00
—with “Hot Goods from the Supply Depot” order form, unpunched-out cardboard gun and “Bang!” sticker. All items must be intact to get top dollar for this.

NBLP7057 Love Gun 1977 15.00
—Without inserts

824151-1 Love Gun 1984 10.00

NBLP7261 Music from The Elder 1981 30.00
—Various editions have paper or plastic innersleeves, lyric sheets, even incorrect track listings on the back cover; no difference in value is noted between variations

824153-1 Music from The Elder 1984 10.00

NB20137 [DJ] Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley 1978 60.00
—Promo-only sampler from the band’s solo albums

NBLP7037 Rock and Roll Over 1976 25.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca” label; comes with sticker and Kiss Army paraphenalia order form

NBLP7037 Rock and Roll Over 1977 15.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca Record and FilmWorks” label, with inserts

824150-1 Rock and Roll Over 1984 10.00

NBLP737 [DJ] Rock and Roll Over Special Edition 1977 120.00
—Five-track sampler from the LP

Kiss ‘76 [DJ] Special Kiss Tour Album 1976 100.00
—Special four-track sampler

NBLP7032 The Originals 1976 100.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca” label; without extras

NBLP7032 The Originals 1977 100.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca Record and FilmWorks” label; “Second Printing” on cover; with extras listed above

NBLP7032 The Originals 1977 50.00
—Tan label with desert scene, “Casablanca Record and FilmWorks” label; “Second Printing” on cover; without extras

826242-1 Unmasked 1985 10.00


8227801 Alive! 2008 30.00

522647-1 Alive III 1994 30.00
—Limited edition black vinyl

522647-1 Alive III 1994 30.00
—Limited edition white vinyl

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Gene Simmons Crashes Ace Frehley Show, Hang Out Backstage

Ultimate Guitar

Gene Simmons pulled a surprising move by attending Ace Frehley’s recent gig in Beverly Hills, CA and even hanging out with former KISS bandmate after the concert.

The photo below shows the two lads in the same picture for the first time since the 2014 Rock Hall induction.

As expected, this led to many fans hoping for Frehley’s return to the KISS fold. The fact that Gene attended the show is more surprising seeing that he has severely condemned Ace’s drugs and alcohol struggles over the years.

Anyhow, the pic was posted by Ace’s official FB page, along with the following caption: “MEANWHILE ~ some guy named ‘Eugene’ crashed Ace’s VIP meet-n-greet last nite in Beverly Hills without rendering payment. If any of you Rock Soldiers can identify this man of mystery, let us know!”

Stay tuned for updates.

KISS’ Paul Stanley Postpones Dates Due To Brain Injury

KISS frontman Paul Stanley announced on Wednesday (Jan 25) that he has been forced to postpone live dates early next month as he recovers from a concussion.

The singer and guitarist suffered the concussion in a skiing accident on January 15th, he revealed in a tweet that day. He wrote “I went skiing today and got something I never expected…A concussion! OW!!!!! Lucky though….”

On Wednesday he shared the following updates, “MY APOLOGIES. Recovery from concussion will take a bit longer. I am postponing ALL FOUR California Soul Station shows Feb. 1-4. So sorry.”

Soul Station is a music collective formed by Stanley to pay tribute to the soul music era that inspired him as he was growing up. He had previously said of the group, “When I was a boy, before I ever saw The Who or Led Zeppelin, I saw Solomon Burke and Otis Redding. I saw the Temptations. It’s tragic to think that so many people are missing out on experiencing the power of so many great bands, artists and that incredible music.

“That music is part of the foundation of all the music I’ve made and Soul Station is my chance to celebrate it for a night that’s real and live.” He added, “I don’t play guitar in the band and we don’t do a single KISS song. That’s not what this is about. It’s magical to hear those songs played right and we’re making magic.”

Ace Frehley talks Kiss, his solo career and life in San Diego

George Varga | San Diego Union-Tribune

Dove Shore

For many musicians, joining the right band at the right time can be a life-changing experience that leads to fame and fortune. For Ace Frehley, leaving Kiss in 1982 was a life-changing experience of an even more dramatic nature.

“I was on a downward spiral and really needed to get away from the whole music business, and try and get a grasp on reality and take a step back. I’d really lost my identity, being ‘The Spaceman’ in Kiss for so long. I needed time to be away from that character and the whole crazy world of touring. So I think it did save my life.”

One of the most influential rock guitarists of the 1970s and ’80s, Frehley rejoined Kiss in 1996 for six years. That stint also ended in acrimony between him and Kiss co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.

Happily, he and Stanley buried the hatchet last year when Stanley sang the classic Free song “Fire and Water” on Frehley’s latest album, “Origins Vol. 1.” Their chemistry seemed better than ever

“When we were shooting the video for the song, it felt so natural being next to Paul onstage,” Frehley said. “Because we have so much history together and I think it came across in the video. He told me he had a lot of fun. I sure enjoyed it. Who knows what lies ahead?”

In a separate interview from his Beverly Hills home, Stanley was equally enthusiastic, if more doubtful of any further reunions.

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Gene Simmons: No more KISS albums until there is ‘a financial model that works’


According to Gene Simmons, there isn’t going to be another KISS album unless there are some major changes in the way music is consumed..

While the band’s popularity, at least at the consumer level, has ebbed and flowed over the years, their last couple of albums have been major disappointments from a sales perspective. KISS have released twenty studio albums only four of which have not gone, at a minimum, gold (500,000 units sold). 1981’s Music From “The Elder” has sold about 375,000 copies while the more recent Carnival of Souls (1997) is at 181,000, Sonic Boom (2008) at 325,000 and Monster (2012) with 200,000.

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Paul Stanley of KISS Babysat My Daughter Yesterday

Cheryl Baehr | Riverfront Times

I couldn’t find a babysitter.

It’s happened to everyone – well at least everyone who is a parent with two X chromosomes. At some point, despite your best efforts, your childcare will fail you. And when it happens, it won’t be a low-key day at the office. It will be the day of a big presentation, the morning of an important hearing.

Or in my case, the day I was supposed to interview KISS.

I’d been trying for days to find someone to watch my three-year-old while I met with rock and roll royalty at the newest outpost of their restaurant chain, Rock & Brews, but no one was available. On the morning of the event, my one last hail Mary option dropped the pass.

There wasn’t really a choice. Sure, I could cancel my interview because I’m a mom, but who was I kidding? I’d have to bring her. It’s the one thing I have down after three years of this stuff: When in doubt, just push through.

Yet I was cringing all the way. “Uh, that’s fine,” the 20-ish woman working the door said with a condescending half-laugh, half-sigh when I explained my situation. “I mean, it’s fine for this, but we don’t really allow kids at the actual events.” The event in this case was a luncheon for local veterans and active duty members of the military, celebrating the grand opening of Rocks & Brews’ two-month-old Chesterfield location. So, no lunch, but I could still do the media interviews ahead of time. Fine.

I sat my daughter down beside me and was unpacking my notes when a shadow fell across the table. There was Gene Simmons, towering above me. “Uh, Mr. Simmons,” I stammered. I’m so sorry. I couldn’t find a babysitter…”

He cut me off.

“Don’t worry about it,” and he reached out to give my daughter a fist bump — and for probably the first time in his life, someone left him hanging on it.

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The KISS Room, January 2017

The KISS Room

“THE GEARHEAD DIVA” herself, RACHEL DEBARROS and the debut of her cover of “Detroit Rock City”! ADAM SMITH from KISSTORY SCIENCE THEATER! A musical birthday salute to PAUL STANLEY with a live performance from THE KISS ROOM HOUSE BAND, Steve Campagna, Steve Foerst, and Fran Galanti All of the KISS talk and KISS tunes that you expect every month in THE KISS ROOM! Originally broadcast on Friday, January 13, 2017 via Montco Radio, where Music and Minds meet.

Ace Frehley / Gene Simmons Stoke KISS Reunion Rumors

Amanda Wicks |

Peter Cade

Will 2017 finally be the year that KISS’ original lineup reunites for a farewell tour? Former guitarist Ace Frehley thinks so.

Speaking with Louder Noise in late 2016, Frehley admitted, “I haven’t heard anything from Paul and Gene, but if it’s going to happen it should happen next year, I would assume. 2017 seems like a ripe year.” If that sounds hopeful, Frehley was quick to caution. “But, you know, we’ll have to wait and see,” he added.

Paul Stanley disagreed, though. After appearing on Frehley’s solo album, Origins Vol. 1, he batted away rumors about a full reunion. “I don’t see it,” he said.

While Stanley may seem dubious, Gene Simmons hasn’t completely ruled it out. He shared a photo of KISS’ original lineup on Instagram two weeks ago with only a question mark as a caption.

Gene Simmons Dives into details of new KISSino as well as Rock & Brews Locations

The SDR Show

Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of KISS have teamed up with Kaw Nation to ready a KISS Casino and Rock ‘N’ Roll Resort in Oklahoma. Founding KISS members seek to bring an “All-Thrill Rock ‘N’ Roll” ambiance to the new casino and resort, located near the Kansas state line, including a hands-on approach to the design and feel directly from Gene and Paul.

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