By design, KISS was larger than life.
In the age of glam rock, KISS were the glam rock equivalent of superheroes, playing nasty hard rock and roll.
After the bombs go off at every one of their shows, the band isn’t safe from a few enemies in the press.
Throughout their career, KISS has dealt with artists who haven’t liked their songs, had bad business deals with them, or think they are up their own ass.
KISS may have been there for the beginning of shock rock, but being the Demon doesn’t save you from bad press.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has always been a spearhead for controversy.
Although KISS were inducted back in 2014, Gene Simmons had an issue with NWA going in the year after, saying “You’re killing me. That doesn’t mean those aren’t good artists. But they don’t play guitar. They sample and they talk. Not even sing.”
During their acceptance speech, the members of NWA sent a message loud and clear back to Simmons. While MC Ren mentioned Simmons from the stage, Ice Cube was more direct saying “The question is, are we rock and roll? And I say you goddamn right we rock and roll. Rock and roll is a spirit that connects all of us.”
Since many nu metal acts took inspiration from hip hop, the future of rock means living outside of Simmons’ guidelines.
The end of KISS’s core lineup contains a lot of he-said-she-said.
Although Ace Frehley’s face appeared on Creatures of the Night, he left during sessions of Music for the Elder saying “that was the icing on the cake when I quit the group. I took the CD and threw it against the wall.”
When KISS were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Frehley was not welcome to put on the makeup, with Simmons saying “He no longer deserves to wear the paint. The makeup is earned. Just being there at the beginning is not enough… And if you blow it for yourself, it’s your fault.”
Frehley eventually lashed out at KISS after the ceremony saying they had “tried to derail my solo career multiple times over the years unsuccessfully.”
The Spaceman makeup might be on Tommy Thayer these days, but fans have been clamoring for Frehley’s return for a reason.
Nikki Sixx will be the first to tell you that KISS was a major inspiration for him.
After hitting the big time with Motley Crue, Sixx had a few choice words for his heroes. When Simmons implied that the musical icon Prince had died of a drug overdose, Sixx said,
“His recent heartless remarks shows why he’s not my hero anymore. I think that Gene is an overrated, lucky guy that dresses like a clown. He wrote some good songs, but hasn’t in a long time, and loves to brag about himself.”
While it was eventually reported that Prince’s death was caused by a drug overdose, Simmons jumping the gun was not going to sit well with any struggling addicts in rock and roll.
After Paul Stanley scouted GNR and volunteered to produce their record, the rest of the band thought it wouldn’t be the right fit. Once Appetite for Destruction took off, Stanley took offense to Slash bad mouthing his production skills to the press. Slash eventually reached out to Stanley for a deal with one of his trademark guitars, but Stanley didn’t call him because of what he said about him.
After catching up, Stanley said “you should be careful about airing your dirty laundry in public” and refused to give Slash a deal. Paul Stanley may have had high hopes for Guns, but he’s not one to make up so easily.
In the early ‘70s, KISS and Aerosmith were two of the best bands hard rock had to offer.
When they went on tour in ‘76, Steven Tyler had some harsh words to throw their way. After coming off the tour, Tyler compared them to being a comic book rock band without any credibility.
Although Joe Perry remained a fan, Tyler was still skeptical saying “I sometimes get offended by their music. I hear that and go, ‘What’s this all about? Do they really mean it?’ That’s why Aerosmith have been around forever. Because we take ourselves seriously.”
The levitating drum kit might seem fun for rock fans, but according to Tyler, you should be able to get the job done without flashiness.
KISS has always thrived on bringing the rock and roll circus to town. If you ask Carlos Santana, music should be all you need.
When asked about the members of KISS, Santana singled out Gene Simmons for not caring about his musicianship. Comparing him to a Vegas show, Satana said “Simmons hides his talent beneath costumes and makeup. A musician doesn’t need the mask or the mascara. There’s a difference between an entertainer and a musician.”
While Simmons would tell you he isn’t the best musician in the world, he was willing to fire back, saying that he’s tired of watching bands like Santana “looking down at their shoes and thinking that’s a rock concert.” Whatever some’s idea of real musicianship is, the image of KISS playing on stools doesn’t make sense.
David Lee Roth
As KISS embarked on their farewell tour, Simmons wasn’t enthusiastic about the opening bands on the bill.
While Simmons supported Van Halen before they had a record contract, he thought David Lee Roth was spent during the tour saying “I don’t know what happened to him. Back in the day there was no one who could do what he did.”
Diamond Dave isn’t one to forgive so easily, making a post on Instagram with the title Roth to Simmons, which features a young boy flipping the bird to the camera.
Simmons has since apologized for calling Dave out, saying that he was sorry for hurting Roth’s feelings. Even to celebrate their final years in the touring life, Simmons was still finding ways to make enemies.
Greta Van Fleet
Many rock fans were pissed off when Gene Simmons called the genre dead back in the early 2010’s.
Rock and roll was not going to go quietly, and Greta Van Fleet put Simmons in his place. When asked about Simmons’ claims that the genre was on its last legs, frontman Josh Kizka answer Simmons directly saying “And I’ve heard a lot, throughout the years, I guess people blowing hot air about… I think rock ‘n’ roll can become dormant, but you can’t kill something that supersedes time. It’s an attitude and a spirit and a celebration.”
Simmons claimed that God gave rock and roll to us, so it’s going to take more than a few claims to drive a nail in the coffin.
KISS never claimed to have any political agenda.
Politics have no place in music for Gene Simmons, and he made sure everyone knew it when Pearl Jam showed their colors. After Eddie Vedder performed a satirical song against George Bush, Simmons laid into the grunge rockers, saying “I do know that a segment of the audience will stop. I’m one. I’ve bought Pearl Jam records. I’m out. He crossed the line.”
It’s hard to take Simmons at his word, since his brand of glam rock was designed to cause controversy in the early days. Now that the next generation were raising awareness for something they believed in, The Demon has tamed over the years.
KISS is all about giving their all to the people. So when a pop star isn’t even trying, Gene Simmons is going to have something to say.
When Justin Bieber started canceling his shows, Simmons had some nasty words for the pop star saying that the pop star should get a life and even bringing up white privilege as the reason why Bieber can be excused from performances.
Although Simmons wished Bieber well, he’s not going to cater to the divas that he sees. The Beliebers might excuse anything that Bieber does, but none of that matters when you have to face the Demon.