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About Gene Simmons

They call him Dr. Love and the God of Thunder, but once upon a time, Gene Simmons was Chaim Witz—born in 1949 in Haifa, Israeli, and raised in New York by his Holocaust-survivor mother. Like the creators of the superhero comic books he devoured as a kid, Simmons channelled his outsider experience into becoming the demonic, Kabuki-inspired overlord of America’s most outrageous rock band. Forming Kiss in 1973 with singer/guitarist Paul Stanley, drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley, Simmons re-imagined The Beatles as a sci-fi horror freak show for the glam-rock age. He set new standards for stage theatrics with his blood-spewing, fire-breathing antics—and has inspired every death-metal band that’s ever slathered itself in corpse paint. But behind the spectacle, Kiss have real musical chops: A linchpin that connected Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust with ’80s metal and arena rock, they showed future hard rockers how to hitch shout-along hooks to fired-up riffs on “Rock and Roll All Nite” and "Christine Sixteen”. And Simmons' authoritative bass-playing can power both heavy-duty stompers (“Deuce”, on which his vocals open the classic 1975 concert showcase Alive!) and disco crossovers (“I Was Made for Lovin’ You”). But just as important as the music is the business: Since day one, Simmons has calculatedly put his band’s brand on everything from lunchboxes to caskets. "More is the reason for life”, he said of his entrepreneurial spirit to Forbes in 2012. "If you’re a mountain climber and you climb a mountain, what do you do? Stop and wait to die? No, you go and climb another mountain.”

HOMETOWN
Haifa, Israel
GENRE
Rock
BORN
25 Aug 1949

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