What was your strangest childhood obsession

Gene Simmons


Fast facts

Gene Simmons
25th August 1949 (age 71)
Joseph Pulitzer Middle School, Sullivan County Community College, Richmond College
place of birth
Haifa, Israel
Chaim Weitz
The demon
star sign
  • Who is Gene Simmons?
  • Early life
  • Interest in music
  • Big break
  • Form KISS
  • Commercial win
  • KISS keeps rocking
  • Recent projects
  • Quote this page

Gene Simmons Biography

(1949–) Gene Simmons is best known as the front man for KISS, the rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s, and for his TV show "Gene Simmons Family Jewels".

Who is Gene Simmons?

Musician Gene Simmons first decided he wanted to be in a band in middle school after seeing girls screaming at the Beatles on TV. He was in several bands before forming KISS with Paul Stanley in the 1970s. Simmons later pursued interests in fashion, publishing and acting and starred on the reality television show A&E Gene Simmons family jewels.

Early life

Simmons was born Chaim Witz on August 25, 1949 in Haifa, Israel. His mother Flora was a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who saw her family die in concentration camps when she was only 14 years old. After the end of World War II, Flora traveled to Israel. There she met the carpenter Yeichel Witz, the man who would eventually become Simmon's father.

Yeichel and Flora's marriage began to break up shortly after Simmons was born, mainly over disputes over money. Eventually, Simmon's parents agreed to a separation, and Yeichel went to Tel Aviv to look for work. The family would never reunite, and Simmons would never see his father again.

Simmon's mother began raising him on her own and the family continued to struggle in poverty. Flora found work in a cafe and often left Simmons in the care of babysitters. As a result, he quickly spoke fluent Turkish, Hungarian, Hebrew and Spanish to communicate with the supervisors.

In 1958, when Simmons was 8 years old, he and his mother immigrated to New York to live with relatives in Flushing, Queens. Upon entry, Simmons changed his name to Gene because it was easier to pronounce, and took his mother's surname Klein. He quickly learned English through comics and television, and entered the Hasidic theological seminary called Yeshiva at the age of nine. He studied rigorously while his mother worked in a button factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Interest in music

After a year in the yeshiva, he moved to Jackson Heights public school. During this time he began to be interested in music. In his autobiography Kiss and makeupSimmons admits that his musical interests arose one night on television with the Beatles. He thought, "If I start a band, the girls might yell at me." While attending Joseph Pulitzer Middle School, Simmons and a few friends formed a band called The Missing Links to get their classmates' attention. The group, hosted by Simmons, won a talent show at the school and made Simmons a little famous.

This led to a number of bands for Simmons, including Long Island Sounds and Rising Sun. Simmons had dreams of fame, but he didn't want to disappoint his mother either, who urged him to graduate from college. After high school, Simmons went to Sullivan County Community College for a degree in education. After spending two years there, he returned to New York City to attend Richmond College and get his bachelor's degree.

Shortly after graduating in 1970, Simmons' bandmate and childhood friend, Steve Coronel, introduced Simmons to guitarist Stanley Eisen (later known as Paul Stanley). Stanley decided to join Simmons and Coronel's band Wicked Lester, and the group began to see some success on the nightclub circuit. But the band didn't bring in enough money, and to support his musical endeavors, Simmons briefly served as a sixth grade teacher in Spanish Harlem, followed by a position as assistant to the Puerto Rican Interagency Council. Other odd jobs, including time with the Kelly Agency as a temporary worker, work as a deli, a role as an assistant at shine and a job at Fashion as assistant to the editor Kate Lloyd.

Big break

Wicked Lester had a happy hiatus after Stanley got the studio engineer number at Jimi Hendrix's studio Electric Lady Land. Instead of calling the engineer, Simmons called the studio manager, Ron Johnson. Stanley managed to convince Johnson to see the band perform, and after realizing the group's promise, Johnson agreed to record and purchase Wicked Lester's demo tape. In the meantime, Simmons and Stanley have been doing session work on the side, singing background vocals for artists like Lynn Christopher, and learning how to use recording equipment.

With the help of Johnson, the group was recorded by Epic Records, who agreed to fund the recording of a full album. One of the conditions, however, was to replace Stephen Coronel with session musician Ron Leejack. Simmons and Stanley agreed to the arrangement and spent nearly a year completing the new album. When it was done, Epic's A&R director said he hated the album and refused to release it. The next day, the group was dropped off by Epic.


Determined not to let the mistake affect them, Simmons and Stanley restructured the group. The first new member was drummer Peter Criss, who had advertised in Rolling Stone. Their second new member, guitarist Paul "Ace" Frehley, was selected after answering an ad in The village voice. By December 1972, the group had introduced a strict exercise schedule and renamed itself KISS.

Inspired by his childhood obsession with comic book superheroes, Simmons suggested that the group should undergo a physical transformation as well, by donning wild makeup and all-black clothing. Simmons later revealed that the Marvel cartoon character Black Bolt inspired his makeup with bat wing pattern, a look he called "The Demon".

With the help of a trainer, Simmons also learned how to breath fire for his performances. The new group played their first concert on January 30, 1973 at the Popcorn Club in Queens, New York. There were only three members in the audience.

In October 1973, TV producer Bill Aucoin, who had seen the group, offered to become the band's manager. Simmons and his bandmates agreed on the condition that Aucoin would give the group a recording deal within two weeks. Equipped with a demo tape by legendary engineer Eddie Kramer, who worked with Simmons and Stanley during his time at Electric Lady Land, Aucoin received a contract with Emerald City Records from KISS.

Commercial win

The band toured practically non-stop in the 1970s and became very popular because of their exaggerated stage antics. During this time, KISS developed a great cult, with fans - called the "KISS Army" - often imitating the group's clothing and make-up. But although KISS was consistently on the move, they would only gain popularity with their live album Alive! (1975), hit stores. The album spawned the group's first hit single, Rock and Roll All Nite, which hit the Billboard Top 40 charts.

Their next album is called an ambitious recording destroyer (1976) became the second album to hit gold. With the release of the single "Beth", which landed at number 7 on the charts, the album went platinum. Later that year the group released another successful album, Rock and Roll Overfollowed by 1977 Love weapon and Alive II. All three albums went platinum and by the end of the year, KISS was the most popular band in America. KISS also caused a sensation internationally. They topped the charts in Japan, Canada, Sweden and Germany and played five sold out shows at Budokan Hall in Japan. In doing so, they broke the Beatles' previous record of four.

But as the band successfully rolled into the 1980s, tension increased among members of the group. Criss had become increasingly persistent, refusing to practice, and even stopping in the middle of songs during concerts. In December 1979, Criss officially left the group. After numerous auditions, he was replaced by the musician Paul Caravello - later known under the stage name Eric Carr. In 1982 Frehley left KISS, frustrated by the group's new musical direction. Frehley's successor, guitarist Vinne Vincent, did not fit the group well and went through a series of layoffs and hires before leaving for good in 1984. He was replaced by guitarists Mark St. John and finally Bruce Kulick.

KISS keeps rocking

Stanley, Simmons, Carr and Kulick made a great creative match, and the group began releasing platinum albums like 1985 asylum1987s Crazy nights and the compilation of the greatest hits of 1988 Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. The group performed without makeup in 1983 and relied less on flashy showmanship than on substance.

However, Simmons struggled to maintain the craze for his band's new incarnation and instead focused on a film career. However, his films also include B-films like run away (1984) and trick or treating (1986), never quite started at the box office. Simmons and his bandmates suffered another setback when Carr discovered he had cancer. After battling the disease for several years, Carr died in 1991 of a cerebral haemorrhage.

KISS gathered in the midst of their grief, picked up new drummer Eric Singer and released the album, revenge The album went gold and hit the Billboard Top 10. While the latest incarnation of KISS continued to be recorded and toured, Simmons and Stanley also organized a reunion tour of the original members in 1996. Performances with the original group continued in full makeup and costume, grossing more than $ 43.6 million, making Kiss the top concert act of 1996.

Recent projects

At this point, however, Simmons was busy pursuing other interests, including publishing, fashion, and acting. The original group released the album Psycho Circus 1998 the first album in almost 20 years from the original foursome. The original group broke up again, however, with Tommy Thayer replacing Ace Frehley on lead guitar and Eric Singer Peter Criss on drums. The Reformed group toured on for the past decade. Then, in 2009, Stanley and Simmons announced that the original KISS would tour again and release another album. Sonic boom Hit stores in October 2009. The group is currently on tour.

Personal life

Simmons was romantically linked to Liza Minnelli, Cher, and Diana Ross, but lived with actress and alumni playboy Playmate Shannon Tweed since the mid 1980s. The couple have two children: son Nick and daughter Sophie. The family made the jump to reality television on the A&E television network in 2006 with the show Gene Simmons family jewels. Each episode featured a different family adventure, from Tweed and Simmons undergoing plastic surgery together to Simmons who runs Nick's band. The show lasted six seasons, with the sixth season including the wedding of Simmons and Tweed on October 1, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.