Classic Rock Bottom

Gene Simmons



(born Chaim Witz; August 25, 1949) is an Israeli American rock bassist, singer, songwriter, musician, actor, and businessman. Known as "The Demon," he is the bassist/vocalist of Kiss, a hard rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s.

Simmons was ranked number 12 in Roadrunner's list of 50 Best Frontmen in Metal History.



Chaim Witz (later Gene Simmons) was born in Tirat Carmel, Haifa, Israel in 1949. The family emigrated to Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City when he was eight years old.[2] His mother Flóra Klein (was born in Jánd, Hungary). The German name Klein (means: small) translates to Hungarian as Kiss, that gave the rock band's name.[3] Florence and her brother, Larry Klein, were the only members of the family to survive the Holocaust. His father, Feri Witz, also Hungarian-born remained in Israel. Simmons says the family was "dirt poor," scraping by on bread and milk.[4] In the United States, Simmons changed his name to Eugene Klein (later Gene Klein), adopting his mother's maiden name. He attended Yeshiva Torah Vodaath in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as a child, from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. [5] [6]

He became a science fiction fan and published several science fiction fanzines, among them Sirruish, 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.[7]

In the late 1960s, he changed his name to Gene Simmons, after legendary rockabilly performer Jumpin' Gene Simmons.[8]

Simmons, who never married, lives in Beverly Hills, California with longtime partner, former Playboy Playmate and actress Shannon Tweed. 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.[2] Simmons speaks English, Spanish, Hungarian and Hebrew.

On his television show Gene Simmons Family Jewels, he bought a local island in an episode in August 2007, and he is the longtime owner of Gene Simmons Toyota in Newbridge, New Jersey.


Music career

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 its self-titled debut album in February 1974. Stanley quickly 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 "Demon" 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. The band hosted their own fan conventions throughout 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, the first album in almost 20 years by the original line-up. 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 up through 1996) replacing Peter Criss on drums.


Gene Simmons has used various bass guitars during his career including:

  • Axe Bass (Kramer or other brands, like Jackson)
  • Punisher Bass (Made by a lot of brands, as seen, B.C Rich or Jackson)
  • 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)
  • Cort Guitars Signature GS-1 Bass

He uses Ampeg SVT CL Series amps with 8x10 cabinets. In 2010 Gene Simmons collaborated with Cort Guitars to make a his own signature bass line called the GS-AXE-2.


Film and television career

Simmons has been the creative force behind such television projects as:

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.[11]

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.



  • In February 2002, Simmons was interviewed on the NPR radio show Fresh Air and asked about his claim of having bedded 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 The Who's 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.[21] However, it appears in print in Gross's book All I Did Was Ask (ISBN 1-4013-0010-3) and unauthorized transcripts are available. NPR re-broadcast part of the interview in August 2007.[22] Simmons's 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 husband, weren't allowed to be educated or 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.[23] 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." [24] A settlement was reached in June 2006.

Awards and recognition

In 2011, Simmons was presented the key to the city in Dallas, Texas and a street, Gene Simmons Boulevard, was named for him.


Homecoming visit to Israel

In March 2011, Simmons had a homecoming visit to Israel where he was born. He described the trip as a "life changing experience". He talked how he still feels Israeli - "I'm Israeli. I'm a stranger in America. I'm an outsider". [26] Gene recently met his half brother Kobi, and sisters Sharon, Eugenia and Drora while in Israel. [27] Simmons has plans to bring his band, KISS to Israel. [28] He has always said that he is an ardent supporter of Israel. [29] At a press conference in Israel, he spoke both Hebrew and English.



Year Film Role Bandmates Miscellaneous
1978 Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park[31] The Demon Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley TV movie
1984 Runaway[32] Dr. Charles Luther

1986 Trick or Treat[33] Nuke (radio DJ)
Ozzy Osbourne also appeared
1986 Never Too Young to Die[34] Carruthers / Velvet Von Ragner

1987 Wanted: Dead or Alive[35] Malak Al Rahim

1988 The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years[36] Himself Paul Stanley Documentary
1989 Red Surf[37] Doc

1999 Detroit Rock City[38] Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Simmons also produced[38]
2002 The New Guy[39] Reverend

2002 Wish You Were Dead[40] Vinny

2008 Detroit Metal City[41] Jack lll Dark
Japanese movie
2009 Extract[42] Joe Adler

2010 Expecting Mary Taylor

2010 Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage Himself

Television appearances

Year Show Episode Role Bandmates Miscellaneous
1974 The Mike Douglas Show[43] June 11, 1974 Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Kiss' first national television appearance, performed "Firehouse"
1976 The Paul Lynde Halloween Special[44] October 29, 1976 Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley The band performed "Detroit Rock City" and "King of the Night Time World", Peter Criss performed "Beth"
1985 Miami Vice[45] "Prodigal Son" Newton Blade

1997 Action League Now![46] "Rock-A-Big-Baby" Toy version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Performed "Rock and Roll All Nite"
1998 MADtv[47] October 31, 1998 (#406) Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley. Halloween special; performed in five sketches
2001 Family Guy[48] "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas" Animated version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley
2001 Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?[49] May 27, 2001 Himself
Won $500,000 for a charity
2001 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[50] 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[51] "Road to Europe" Animated version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley
2002 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno[52] September 6, 2002 Himself

2003 King of the Hill[53] "Reborn to Be Wild" Jessie

2004 Third Watch[54] "Higher Calling" Donald Mann

2004 Third Watch[55] "Monsters" Donald Mann

2004 Third Watch[56] "More Monsters" Donald Mann

2005 American Idol[57] "Auditions: New Orleans" Himself- guest judge

2005 Family Guy[58] "Don't Make Me Over" Animated version of himself/ Prisoner #3

2005 Mind of Mencia[59] Episode #1.7 Himself

2006 The View[60] August 1, 2006 Himself 2006 Gene Simmons Family Jewels
2007 SpongeBob SquarePants[61] "The Battle of Bikini Bottom" Sea Monster

2007 Shrink Rap[62] "Gene Simmons" Himself
UK's More4 show
2008 Entertainment Tonight[63] January 2, 2008 Himself

2008 Jimmy Kimmel Live![64] January 18, 2008 Himself

2008 Rachael Ray[65] March 11, 2008 Himself

2008 Criss Angel Mindfreak[66] "Mindfreaking with the Stars" Himself

2008 Ugly Betty[67] "The Kids Are Alright" Himself

2008 Ugly Betty[68] "A Thousand Words by Friday" Himself

2008 Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?[69] Episode #3.9 Himself
Won $500,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation charity
2008 The Celebrity Apprentice[70] First three episodes Himself
Fired in the third episode
2008 Jingles[71][72]
Celebrity judge
Mark Burnett reality show
2009 Glenn Martin DDS Glenn Gary, Glenn Martin himself no band mates were involved
2009 American Idol[57] 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
2010 I Get That a Lot Episode 2 As Himself No Band Mates Associated Simmons appeared as a psychic working at the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, California
2010 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Episode 160 As Himself No Kiss Band Mates Associated 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 None Discussing the requirements of being in a rock band.
2011 Castle To Love and Die in LA As Himself None

Video appearances

In 2007, he appeared alongside other celebrities, as well as regular people, in the music video for "Rockstar" by Nickelback.

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)

Publishing career

In 2002, Simmons launched Gene Simmons' Tongue, a men's lifestyle magazine.[73] The magazine lasted five issues before being discontinued

Published works


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