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GENE SIMMONS wishes he had been harder on ACE FREHLEY and PETER CRISS”


In a new interview with Backstage PassKISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons was asked if there are any things that have happened over the past 50 years that he would handle differently if he could go back in time. He responded in part: “Well, I’m sad in retrospect — you know, hindsight’s 20/20 — I’m sad that I wasn’t more hard on (fellow original KISS members) Ace (Frehley) and Peter (Criss), the two original guys who played guitar and drums in the band.”

Apparently referencing Ace‘s and Peter‘s troubles with drugs and alcohol, Gene continued: “I’d never been high or drunk and never smoked cigarettes, so I’ve always been an outcast in that way. The rest of the world seemed to be drug-fueled.

Ace and Peter… have as much credit for the beginning of the band as Paul (StanleyKISS guitarist/vocalist) and I do. There’s no question it was that chemistry. And they both had unique voices, unique personalities and all that. And they should have been here with us 50 or 55 years later and enjoying the fruits of their labor. But sadly, they’re not. And it’s their own doing. They were in and out of the band three different times. They were let go three different times because of the same old thing. It’s not even unique. Go to almost every band and you’ll find people ingesting stuff more than the bum on the street corner, except they’re richer and they can afford to ingest more. It’s sad.”

Asked how he managed to not get sucked into the drug-fueled lifestyle of being a global rock star, Gene said: “Well, the word ‘no’ is in the dictionary. Just by observation, I’ve never seen anybody drunk be witty or intelligent. Have you? And people who are high sound like aliens. And people who smoke stink like ashtrays.

“Look, I can understand if smoking or drinking or getting high would make you smarter, richer, made your shmeckel bigger, made you more attractive — all those things that we all wish we had. ‘I wish this. I wish that.’ But nothing happens, really. In fact, you’ll probably throw up on the shoes your girlfriend just bought. You won’t be witty. The next day your head will hurt, and if you drink enough, your shmeckel is not gonna work. So I don’t get it. Chances are pretty good you’re gonna get into a fight.

“I remember when I was 13, 14, I used to go to these teenage parties where 16-year-olds would gather because I was always bigger, so they’d invite me,” Simmons recalled. “They’d think I was older. And like a vulture on the side, I’d just wait for the guys to get drunk and then just swoop in and take any girl I wanted.”

In addition to Simmons, the GENE SIMMONS BAND members for this date will include guitarists Brent Woods (WILDSIDE, SEBASTIAN BACH, VINCE NEIL) and Zach Throne (COREY TAYLOR) alongside drummer Brian Tichy (LYNCH MOB, THE DEAD DAISIES, WHITESNAKE, BILLY IDOL, FOREIGNER, PRIDE & GLORY, SLASH’S SNAKEPIT).

Back in 2017 and 2018, the GENE SIMMONS BAND played a number of shows with a lineup that consisted of Simmons alongside guitarist/bassist Jeremy Asbrock, guitarist Ryan Cook, guitarist Phil Shouse and drummer Brent Fitz.

Six years ago, Simmons stated about his solo shows: “Doing these smaller concert halls, which hold a thousand to three thousand people, means they get filled up by real diehard fans. They don’t want to hear the ‘same old, same old.’ They want to hear nuggets, as they say. It’s a hoot for me because I’ve never really had a chance to do this stuff live. It’s been a lot of fun.” Gene told the Chicago Sun-Times: “By the end, I get the chance to bring as many people from the audience as we can fit on the stage to sing with me.”

Regarding how the idea for a solo tour came about, Simmons told Australia’s Advertiser in a 2018 interview: “The GENE SIMMONS BAND was not a plan or anything. About a year ago, a corporate event asked me to be keynote speaker … then they said, ‘Won’t you get up and sing a few tunes?’ I explained that you can’t just do that, you’ve got to have a band and rehearse and all that. They said, ‘Well, we’ll pay you X dollars more,’ and I said, ‘I like you!’ “So I put together a band from Nashville — these guys back up Kid Rock and lots of other people — and without a single rehearsal, I just told them which songs I wanted to do and they learned them. It just sounded natural — there is such a thing called chemistry. They don’t teach that anywhere — I mean, they do teach ‘chemistry’ but not the kind I’m talking about. It felt right and as soon as the videos went on YouTube and such, people were calling. This little GENE SIMMONS BAND never tried to be KISS… It was just a little bit of fun and stuff. Now all of a sudden, we’re headlining festivals in the Czech Republic, Canada, Germany… It’s crazy.”

KISS played the final concert of its “End Of The Road” farewell tour on December 2, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Regarding why now was the right time for KISS to call it quits, Simmons told USA Today: “The touring band that is KISS with the makeup and the dragon boots and fire-breathing, that has to stop and that has to do with Mother Nature and Father Time. If we were a blues band or I was blessed to be Keith Richards in THE ROLLING STONES, I’d show up in my comfy sneakers and T-shirt and stand still and play. But we’re different bands. Physically, we are the hardest-working band on the stage. We idolize (MickJagger and Bono and the great showmen, but if you put those guys in my outfit, they would pass out in half an hour. It’s 40 pounds of armor and studs and seven-inch dragon boots that are about the weight of a female bowling ball. So you’ve got 20 pounds on your feet and then you’ve got to spit fire, fly through the air and the entire band is doing that for two-plus hours. If you have any love for the fans, get off the stage before it’s too late. How many boxers have stayed too long in the ring? We’re doing the right thing.”

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