‘I don’t want to talk to fu**ing Gene Simmons’: Kurt Cobain Declined an Offer From KISS While Recording In Utero

Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images & Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Race To Erase MS
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Kurt Cobain, the enigmatic frontman of Nirvana, notoriously harbored complex feelings about many aspects of his fame and public life, notably including his perspectives on figures like Gene Simmons of KISS.

Cobain had a well-known aversion to the commercialization of rock music, and Simmons, in his eyes, epitomized this with his unabashed pursuit of fame and fortune.

This perspective was part of a broader ideology wherein Cobain distanced himself from the glam rock of the past, seeking instead authenticity and raw emotion in music. The clash with Simmons’ ethos was inevitable, underscoring the generational shift in rock music during the grunge era.

In a new interview looking back on Nirvana’s final album, ‘In Utero,’ surviving Nirvana members and album engineer Steve Albini reflected on a moment in the studio when Gene Simmons reached out wanting to talk to Cobain about an opportunity.

Kurt was extremely uninterested in the opp and did not want to talk to Simmons, so Albini says he essentially pranked the KISS legend, pretending to be Cobain on a phone call:

“So, the word comes down that Gene Simmons is desperate to get Nirvana on [“Hard to Believe: A Kiss Covers Compilation” album]… the appeal comes from management, directed through management like ‘We got this call from Gene Simmons, he’s really hot to have you guys on this album — do you want to call him back?’ And Kurt is like, ‘I don’t want to talk to fucking Gene Simmons’ and I said I’ll do it.”

Simmons apparently held a grudge about the incident, as he had some less-than-flattering comments about Nirvana’s legacy in the years following Cobain’s tragic death:

“Kurt Cobain – no, that’s one or two records. That’s not enough. What, just cause you died makes you an icon? No.” In Gene’s mind, he singled out bands like KISS as the real icons, thinking that Nirvana shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith.”

So there you have it folks. Cobain was not a member of the KISS army.