Best known as the fire breathing, blood splitting and larger than life co-founder of hard rock supergroup, KISS. Simmons was actually born Chaim Witz in Haifa, Israel in August, 1949 of Hungarian background and moved to New York as a young child. Like many American teenagers of the 1960s, he was influenced by a fascination with comic book super heroes, monster movies and rock and roll music, thus the teenage Simmons set about creating what he perceived as the ultimate music supergroup.
Simmons eventually crossed paths with like-minded musician / songwriter Paul Stanley (born Stanley Eisen) in the early 1970s, and after several failed attempts to create their dream band, they recruited fellow New Yorkers spaced out guitarist Ace Frehley (born Paul Daniel Frehley) and "do anything to make it" drummer Peter Criss (born Peter Crisscuola).
The four struggling young musicians practiced relentlessly in a rundown loft in New York City refining their music & stage show before eventually launching themselves on the New York live music scene in the early 1970s with their blitzkrieg style of hard rock, kabuki stage make up and unforgettable high energy performances. After bombarding media, TV & public relations identities with invites to their shows, Simmons and Stanley soon brokered a deal with Madison Ave executive Bill Aucoin for him to manage the band, and Aucoin soon scored KISS a record deal with the fledgling Casablanca Records & Filmworks.....and the rest as they say is KISStory!
Since their first album debuted in 1974, KISS have sold over 80 million albums and played over 2,000 shows to millions of loyal fans (known as the KISS Army) right around the globe. Never one to keep still for too long, the charismatic Simmons made his first feature film appearance as his alter ego (The Demon from KISS) in the 1978 telemovie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978) (TV), which received scathing reviews in the USA from TV critics. However KISS fans internationally loved the film and it played theatrically to strong box office business in dozens of countries, and has since become something of a cult film....despite it's corny, cartoonish plot! Since KISS didn't drop wearing their distinctive make up until 1983, it was several years before Simmons appeared in front of the cameras again (this time without the Demon make up), as an evil techno-junkie killer battling Tom Selleck in the thriller Runaway (1984). Simmons has since continued to turn up in low-key roles in B-grade thrillers such as Wanted: Dead or Alive (1986) and Red Surf (1989) (V) that utilize his ability to glower and look menacingly into the camera. In addition, Simmons has appeared in minor guest roles in several TV crime shows including "Miami Vice" (1984), "Millennium" (1996/I) and, most recently, in "Third Watch" (1999).
|Shannon Tweed||(1 October 2011 - present) 2 children|
The Demon makeup worn from 1973-1983 then from 1996 to present
The axe-shaped bass guitar
Spike platform boots, flame-shaped afro, and spiked armor plating
Spits fake blood and breathes fire onstage
Co-founder of the famous hard-rock group, KISS, famous for outrageous antics and kabuki-like make-up.
Prior to forming KISS, Gene Simmons was an elementary school teacher.
Lived with Cher for several years.
Has lived with model/actress Shannon Tweed since 1986, but they've never married. Simmons has said that while he respects the rights of those who choose to marry, it's not something he ever plans to do; specifically, he doesn't feel man by nature is meant to be in a monogamous relationship. "The only thing wrong with marriage is that one of the persons involved is a man," he often says.
Edward Van Halen once begged Gene and Paul Stanley to let him join KISS, during a time when his band, Van Halen, was having problems. Van Halen played guitar in a session for KISS, and, according to Simmons, impressed them with his use of synthesizers. Simmons eventually told Van Halen that despite his feelings about working with David Lee Roth, he should stick things out since his musical abilities would never be fully recognized within KISS' style.
Once considered becoming a rabbi.
Designer of the axe shaped bass guitar.
There is a KISS tribute band in Seattle called Gene's Addiction.
Discovered Van Halen in 1977 and produced the demo that got them signed to Warner Brothers Records. Unfortunately, Simmons had to release them from their contract when he couldn't convince anyone at WB of the band's potential. Bill Aucoin, then-manager of KISS, told Simmons he didn't think Van Halen would have any commercial success (Van Halen's debut self-titled album went platinum, and their famous 1984 album has sold more than 10 million copies and has been certified diamond).
Publisher of the magazine 'Tongue' since late 2001. Is currently working on a KISS brand of condoms, among other things. Most of his post-KISS career will be concentrated on producing feature films and creating new KISS merchandise.
Launches fashion label, "Gene Simmons - Dragonfly" [August 2002]
With KISS no longer occupying his time, Gene has a number of ventures he's turned to: resurrecting his record label, $immons Records, acting in and producing feature films, starting up his own Women of Wrestling league (with a W.O.W. magazine and clothing line to follow), creating his own radio talk show, and possibly even going on the lecture circuit.
Claims to have slept with over 4,600 women.
Has never drank alcohol, used drugs or smoked
Once played in a band called Cathedral, several years before forming KISS. Among the names the band considered before settling on KISS in 1973 were Albatross, The Crimson Harpoon and F**k. Paul Stanley was the band member who suggested KISS.
Is the founder of Simmons Publishing, which publishes books and magazines.
When Simmons' came to America, his name was changed from Chaim Witz to Gene Klein. He later decided to use "Gene Simmons" for professional purposes.
He is the son of Hungarian Jews. His mother, Florence, is a Holocaust survivor. In his book "Sex Money KISS", Simmons wrote that his grandmother willingly went into a gas chamber with his great-grandmother because she didn't want her mother to have to die alone. Simmons' mother is the only member of her entire family to survive the Holocaust. She managed to survive partly due to her skills as a hairdresser (a wife of one of the Nazi German officer liked how she did hair and had her kept around to be her hairstylist).
Even though his father left the family when Simmons was a child, once he became rich he felt an obligation to buy both of his parents homes and provide them with financially worry-free lifestyles.
He has one non-negotiable condition for anyone interested in signing with his record label Simmons Records: No Drugs.
Is "The Demon" in the hard rock band, KISS.
Once said he bought a ticket to one of his own shows, then walked in completely out of makeup and character, and took his seat. Nobody knew who he was.
His famous tongue has been measured at over 7 inches long.
Is one of the top fire-breathers in the world. The world record is a 27 feet flame. Gene can hit 15 feet.
Simmons, in terms of political views, describes himself as neither Democrat nor Republican, but voting based on the issues. While he supports a woman's right to abortion, the environment and church/state separation, he supported Bush in 2004 because he agreed with Bush's foreign policy stands.
Earned a Bachelor's degree in Education from Richmond College in Staten Island, New York.
Taught 6th grade at PS 75 in Spanish Harlem.
He has a business partner named Rich Abramson. Their company is known as Simmons Abramson Marketing.
Speaks Hungarian, Hebrew, High German, Japanese and, of course, English.
Was offered the role of Nick Hurley in Flashdance, but turned it down due to his agenda with KISS.
Prides himself on living his life like an open book. Said that when he gets into a relationship with a woman, one of the first things he does is show her his infamous book, which contains photos of the countless women he's been with. This is done so that a prospective girlfriend sees what he's about and so that there are no secrets from his side of the relationship.
In his autobiography Kiss and Makeup, said that his mother is primarily the reason why he has never used drugs. He decided years ago that she'd already been through enough having survived the horrors of the Holocaust, and he didn't want to break her heart by becoming a drug addict.
Grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens.
Lives in Beverly Hills, California.
KISS was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Recording at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
A customized electric bass guitar - the "Gene Simmons Axe Bass" - was especially created for him by South Korean giant Cort. The body of the instrument is shaped like the head of an axe with the neck affecting the "handle".
According to the KISS band members on VH1's "Behind the Music" (1997), their garish costumes (created from various S&M sex gear) and make-up was born out of their mutual love of comic books and sci-fi/horror films. According to Gene, each member (Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and himself) fashioned their stage characters from their own personalities. Gene loved horror films and chose "The Demon" as his persona. Paul Stanley always dreamed of being a stage star and became "Star-Child". Ace Frehley loved science fiction and chose the "Space Ace" persona. And Peter Criss' "Cat Man" character was a reference to his growing up in a rough neighborhood (He quipped "I had nine lives like a cat just make it out of there"). Gene says that Ace Frehley was the one who drew the KISS logo.
At the height of their popularity in the 70's, various right-wing Christian groups, who often demonized rock-n-roll as "the devil's music", claimed that "KISS" stood for "Knights In Satan's Service".
During an interview on William Shatner's "Shatner's Raw Nerve" (2008), Gene revealed how he and Paul Stanley came up with the name KISS. They knew they wanted a band name that was short, blunt, and stood out. For a while, they played with the notion of calling their band "Fuck" with the idea that each record album they made would have a title with a variation of the word (i.e.: Fuck You, Fuck Off, Fuck Me, Fuck Him, etc.) But, then, they realized they would never get signed to a record deal with that kind of a name, so Paul Stanley came up with "KISS" instead.
Engaged to Shannon Tweed [July 26, 2011].
Brother-in-law of Tracy Tweed.
Found out after his father died in 2002 that he had 3 half sisters: Drora, Ogenia and Sharon; and one half brother Kobi.
It's a dirty job but somebody's got to do it.
Walk amongst the natives by day, but in your heart be Superman.
Anyone who tells you they got into rock n' roll for reasons other than girls, fame and money is full of shit.
When I'm gone, on my tombstone I'd like 'Thank you and goodnight', because I have no regrets. The sad thing is most people have to check with someone before they do the things that make them happy. We're all passing through; the least we can do is be happy, and the only way to do that is by being selfish.
The first thing I did when I met Shannon Tweed, or Cher, was say: 'Here, there are no skeletons in Gene Simmons's closet.' I refuse to lead a Dr Jekyll-and-Mr Hyde life. There are DJs who get caught with prostitutes, MPs with stockings on their head. It's a waste of time. Just say, 'This is who I am. Take it or leave it'. Then you sleep well.
My hero is me. Why? Because I was a poor little kid who was told, 'Hey stupid, can't you speak English?' Now all those people work for me. Despite whatever circumstances I came across, I was always able to rise to the top and there's only one way to do that - by being selfish, but also by believing in yourself. Belief is self-knowing. Even Yoda out of Star Wars said, 'Do or do not. There is no try.'
"When you walk through a bad neighborhood, you don't want a poodle by your side. You want a Rottweiler." on why he was voting for Bush in 2004.
Marriage is an institution, and you must be fully committed to it. That sounds crazy to me.
The root of all evil isn't money; rather, it's not having enough money.
Whoever said 'Money can't buy you love or joy' obviously was not making enough money.
[on the dismissal of his KISS band-mates Peter Criss and Ace Frehley in the early 1980s] They were let go for being into alcohol and worse drugs, pure and simple. I love both those guys to death. But I didn't want them to die on tour.
You can't argue with facts and figures. Either people want it, in which case they pay for it, or it's two guys sitting around at the Plaza having a discussion, which means nothing. I mean, Titanic (1997). I wasn't crazy about the movie. But you know what? I'm gonna shut up, because the people have spoken. End of story!
That's not a business model that works. I open a store and say, Come on in and pay whatever you want. Are you on fucking crack? (On Radiohead's plan in 2007 to let fans choose how much to pay for their new album)
We broke Lawrence Welk's attendance record in Abilene, Texas. I'm very proud of that.
We own some very big houses that critics have bought us with their bad reviews. Critics are an unnecessary life form. There's a large Kiss cemetery at the back of our houses where we bury them.
Kids should never be allowed, much less forced, to leave the nest until and unless they can fly - or, preferably, soar.
The best you can do is set your kids on the right track; staying on it without falling is up to the kids.
The best things in life are never given; they're earned. Responsibility, for instance.
Everyone has SOMETHING for which everybody else will gladly shell out a ton of money...whether or not they know exactly what it is.
[on pop duo "Boy Meets Girl", aka George Merrill & Shannon Rubicam] Their worst and only mistake was actually getting married, when they already had a gorgeous little girl *and* a booming music career. Had those two just left well-enough alone, like Shannon (Tweed) and I have, they'd probably still be a couple today.
[on touring as a family group] I think it's good for me and good for the family. It forces [us] to confront issues that would normally be hidden. We've been together twenty-eight years and I don't know of a single highway you can drive on that doesn't have bumps in the road. Love is the answer. If you care enough about somebody, you confront those issues.
The TV show, for me, is medicinal. I'm able to watch it and realize that I'm not aware how I come off. I can be short, I can be impolite, and not be aware of it, and it certainly hurts people's feelings.
This is a privileged life. There are rewards. But at any time I could say 'I don't want to do this, don't bother me' and quit. I do it because I love it.
It is time for me to grow up. I'm 62. I've been doing a lot of wacky stuff for an awfully long time... and there's nobody I've ever said 'I love you' to. I even find it difficult to say 'I love you' to my mother. But I love Shannon with all my heart and all my soul, and always will.
Don't believe bands who say it's all about the fans and they want to give their music away for free. The result is they will continue to live in their mother's basement.
If someone offered me a billion dollars for the Kiss brand I wouldn't sell. We now have 3,000 licensed products. There's no limit to what Kiss can do. We have everything from condoms to caskets - we'll get you coming and we'll get you going.
Music, marriage and religion, it's all a business. Even God passes the hat around. It is your fiduciary duty not just to understand how to play a minor chord but how to maximize your pay.
Some bands use a lot of tapes...U2? I'm sorry, it's a fucking tape. The great bands like Metallica, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin - what you see and what you hear is what these people are actually playing.
I would urge all bands that say they only care about credibility and don't care about money to send Gene Simmons every dollar that they don't want. I'd be happy to take it off them.
No karaoke singers allowed. No fake bullshit. Leave that to Rihanna-Schmianna and everybody else whose name ends with an 'a.'
I think Barack Obama is actually a good guy. He has no fucking idea what the world is like because he doesn't have to live there.
Politicians trot out celebrities and rock stars to convince us they're worthy of the job, and we the masses, fall for it. Shame on us. Celebrities are morons, myself included. They should stick to what they do best. Act. Sing. Or burp. But keep the candidates clean of their stains.
I have never been high or drunk in my life.
|You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.|
|With our Resume service you can add photos and build a complete resume to help you achieve the best possible presentation on the IMDb.|
Click here to add your resume and/or your photos to IMDb.