Fantasy meets reality: Gene Simmons on comics, rock, KISS

BJ Lisko | Cantonrep

“I started off a comic book geek, and I’m still a comic book geek,” Gene Simmons said. Take our KISS poll.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers Kiss are tailor-made for the world of comic books. The iconic rock group with its own superhero-like quality first appeared on comic pages in 1977 in the 12th issue of “Howard the Duck.” Later that year, Marvel Comics published a magazine-format, full-color comic book titled “A Marvel Comics Super Special!: Kiss,” marking the first time since The Beatles that a band had been depicted as superheroes on Marvel’s pages. To promote the special, in what was perhaps one of the greatest marketing stunts of all time, the band had blood drawn from a registered nurse to be poured into the vats of red ink used for printing.

Kiss bassist, and the blood-spitting demon himself, Gene Simmons, readily admits he’s had a love affair with comic books his entire life.

“I’m still a geek,” Simmons said recently by phone. “I started off a comic book geek, and I’m still a comic book geek. Our first Kiss comics came out through Marvel in 1978, and at that time were Marvel’s biggest selling comic books.”

Since then, Kiss stories and adventures have been published by not only Marvel, but by the Image, Dark Horse, Platinum Studios, Archie Comics, IDW and Dynamite Comics imprints, and the Kiss legend heads his own Simmons Comics Group.

“This is gonna be a first for me,” Simmons said. “Outside of Kiss, I’ve never done a solo tour. I never did anything like that. Every once in a while I’ll jump up on stage and do a song with somebody. Johnny Depp and I did a few songs together, a few other knuckleheads, but that’s about it. When Wizard World and I agreed to do five events together, the idea of jumping up onstage and gulping it on for an hour or so came up. And I got a great bunch of guys, real rocking guys who are gonna get up with me, and we’ll play all the hits and have ourselves a good old time.”

Q. The Agora was one of the first venues Kiss played outside of New York, correct?

A. “We started (in Cleveland) 43 years ago at the Agora, and it brings back a lot of memories. It’s really funny, when you’re a kid, the world seems like a big place. And when we started touring, we were in the back of a station wagon, and everything was big. We’d only played clubs before we went off on our first tour. When we saw the Agora, we thought, ‘Wow, what a big place!’ Of course, in a few months after that when we started playing 10,000-seaters, all of the sudden the world got much bigger, and the places we thought were big got much smaller. But, we have very fond memories of the area, the people and the gig. I’ve never been high or drunk in my life, so I remember it all.”

Q. Of course another Cleveland connection is that a few years ago Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What did the honor mean to you?

A. “It’s appreciated, but I never thought much about it. Like most entities, they’re political. Some people in a back room decide who gets in and who does not. There are people from different genres that I don’t believe belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. There’s disco and rap and all kinds of stuff. And I highly respect rap, but on the day Led Zeppelin gets put into the hip hop Hall of Fame, is the day I will personally accept rap artists as being brought into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It just ain’t the same thing. You go to Apple Music, and you go to different genres and you type in ‘rock,’ you’re not gonna find a single rap band in that category. Likewise, if you look at hip hop or rap, you’re not gonna see AC/DC or Kiss in the list in there.” Continue reading

Gene Simmons: Musicians Today Have to Live in Their Mother’s Basement & Give Music for Free, It’s Very Sad

Ultimate Guitar

Gene Simmons said he still shares that “rock is dead” stance, stressing that being a new band these days “has got to be horrible.”

During a recent CR interview, Gene was asked whether rock music “might be perhaps taking on a different form or evolving into something else? The idea being that this generation’s rock isn’t the same as their parents, just like their parents’ generation of rock wasn’t the same as their grandparents?”

The musician replied: “No. It’s not evolving at all, and that’s because there’s not really any record companies.

“That’s why it’s not evolving, because musicians can’t really spend full time working on their art. They have to go work for a living and live in their mother’s basement and give away their music for free. It’s very sad.

“It doesn’t affect us, but to be a new band today has got to be horrible. Because they will never have the chance we did.”

Gene added: “So from 1958 to 1988 we had Elvis, The Beatles, The Stones, Hendrix, and a thousand others that stand the test of time. Then you had Metallica, Madonna, Prince and U2 and all of that. But from 1988 to today, who is the new Beatles? Where’s Elvis? Where are the Stones? Who is taking their place?”

Gene Simmons Re-Ups Stance on Rap in Rock Hall, Plots KISS Box Set With Unreleased Material

Joe DiVita | Loudwire

Matt Winkelmayer image

Gene Simmons has made his stance on rap and hip-hop loud and clear in the past, engaging in a war of words with the N.W.A. camp following their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He has yet to soften his position on the matter, re-upping on his stance as well as revealing some plans regarding unreleased KISS material.

“There are people from different genres that I don’t believe belong in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame,” Simmons began telling CantonRep. “There’s disco and rap and all kinds of stuff. And I highly respect rap, but on the day Led Zeppelin gets put into the Hip-Hop Hall Of Fame is the day I will personally accept rap artists as being brought into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It just ain’t the same thing.”

Simmons explained in a simple manner how the styles are exclusive, stating, “You go to Apple Music and you go to different genres and you type in ‘rock,’ you’re not gonna find a single rap band in that category. Likewise, if you look at hip hop or rap, you’re not gonna see AC/DC or KISS in the list in there.”

Later in the interview, Simmons delivered some news that should have KISS fans foaming at the mouth. “I’m working on a box set that is gonna put together 150 songs that have never been released. That news is gonna be released soon,” said the bassist.

KISS recently performed an “All-Star Salute to the Oregon Military,” making a surprise, unmasked appearance to aid in the construction of the Oregon Military Museum.


KISS Unmask to Raise More Than $1.2 Million for Military Museum

Jeff Giles | 103 The Loon

Kiss don’t often play without their signature makeup these days, but they’re definitely willing to do it for a good cause — as the members of the group proved on Feb. 18, when they delivered a makeup-free set list to help raise more than $1.2 million for a military museum named after guitarist Tommy Thayer‘s father.

That impressive sum was confirmed by Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley, who took to social media the day after the show to congratulate his bandmate for all his hard work on behalf of Oregon’s military veterans.

As Thayer explained in an interview with Forbes, performing at the “All-Star Salute to the Oregon Military” event was just the latest in a series of fundraising efforts he’s taken part in for the museum.

“This is important to me on a personal level because my father is involved,” he said, “but it is important, too, for people to remember and commemorate the amazing people and their stories of heroism. The things they did for our country are inspirational and help us understand where we came from, what helped make us, as a country.”

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KISS 2017 Tour Dates

Kiss 2017 tour dates

Feb 22: Tulsa Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, OK
Feb 24: Gainesville WinStar World Casino, TX
Apr 21: Reno Grand Sierra Resort & Casino, NV
Apr 22: Laughlin Events Center, NV

May 01: Moscow Olympiski, Russia
May 04: Helsinki Hartwell Arena, Finland
May 06: Stockholm Tele2 Arena, Sweden
May 07: Oslo Spekrun, Norway
May 09: Horsens Forum, Denmark
May 10: Gothenburg Scandinavium, Sweden
May 12: Dortmund Westfallenhalle, Germany
May 13: Stuttgart Schleyerhalle, Germany
May 15: Torino Pala Alpitour, Italy
May 16: Bologna Unipol Arena, Italy
May 18: Munich Olympiahalle, Germany
May 20: Brno BCC, Czech Republic
May 21: Vienna Stadthalle, Austria
May 23: Franfurt Festhalle, German
May 24: Rotterdam Ahoy, Holland
May 27: Glasgow SSE Hydro, UK
May 28: Birmingham Barclaycard Arena, UK
May 30: Manchester Arena, U
May 31: London O2 Arena, UK
Jul 14: Bridgeview Chicago Open Air, IL
Jul 15: Hinckley Grand Casino, MN
Jul 16: Bridgeview Chicago Open Air, IL

Paul Stanley rules out Ace Frehley return

Scott Munro | Team Rock

Kiss main man Paul Stanley has ruled out a return for the band’s former guitarist Ace Frehley.

Speculation has increased in recent months that the guitarist might commence a third stint with the band after Stanley guested on his solo album.

And in December, while addressing a Kiss farewell tour that’s thought to be pencilled in for 2018, Frehley said: “I haven’t heard anything from Paul and Gene – although I did get a text from Gene the other day, wanting to come see me perform this January.

“Maybe he’ll pop the big question. Who knows? Whatever happens, we’re all good. It’s all good.”

But when asked if a reunion with original members is a possibility, Stanley tells Billboard: “No. And that’s not coming from any place of animosity. I sang on Ace’s most recent album and did a video with him.

“I have the connection and the reconnection and to celebrate the good things we’ve done together is terrific.

“The band as it is – I’ve played with Eric Singer for I think 25 years and Tommy Thayer’s been in the band probably 15 years at this point. I have no thoughts of re-visiting the past.

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Massive ’70s KISS Collection up for sale this week

We have some SURPRISING items in this latest collection we acquired. Been awhile since our last vintage ’70s sale – the stuff is just increasingly difficult to find. We have items starting at a dollar all the way up to some of the rarest and highest grade pieces imaginable. Most are single items, so check them out now!

Click HERE for the KISS ’70s SALE at

Katey Sagal reveals early relationship with Gene Simmons in new book

Music News

Actress Katey Sagal briefly romanced Kiss frontman Gene Simmons after meeting him when she was a young waitress in California.

The Sons of Anarchy star was a 20-year-old employee at a Los Angeles restaurant when she served Simmons following the band’s concert at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in the mid-1970s.

Sagal, who was an aspiring singer at the time, performed for the rocker, flirted with him, and went home with Simmons.

“He was quite persuasive, and I like men,” she writes in her memoir Grace Notes.

Simmons accompanied her to her band practice the next day and introduced her to the president of his record label, Neil Bogart, who signed her group. However, her big break never came to fruition after the band’s first album sold poorly and they were released from their contract.

Sagal maintained her relationship with Simmons even though she knew he wasn’t a one-woman guy.

“I fantasized that I would be the exception,” she continues.

The relationship eventually came to an end after another musician proposed to Sagal. She reportedly told Simmons about the engagement and informed him she would decline the marriage offer if the Kiss star wanted to wed her, but he reportedly laughed.

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Gene Simmons says rock is still dead


KISS star Gene Simmons is still refusing to backtrack on his “rock is dead” comments that sent the music world into a spin in 2014.

The bassist upset many fans and peers when he told his son Nick rock music had been “murdered” in an Esquire magazine interview.

He said, “It’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.”

And, in a new interview, Simmons has defended his three-year-old remarks, stating, “Rock is dead. It’s because of the internet and Napster and all that stuff. Once you download and file-share, then you’re not making it possible for a new band to be able to do this full time.

“There’s every bit as much talent out there as there was when we first started, but the new bands have to live in their mother’s basement because they can’t afford to do this full time, because people are just filesharing and downloading… That’s their prerogative – we allowed it and we haven’t sued everybody’s pants off for doing that.”

He goes on to point out that without traditional record companies “there wouldn’t have been Elvis (Presley), the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix…,” adding, “Even in disco, you got Madonna, you had Prince, U2, AC/DC, us maybe and a few others. And even in pop, you had Michael Jackson… I mean, it’s just endless. Continue reading