Jewish Entertainment:
Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians

Gene Simmons
The Lead Singer for Heavy Metal Band Kiss
Jewish Name - Chaim Weitz Hebrew, חיים ויץ‎

Gene Simmons is an American rock bassist, singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and actor. Known as "The Demon", Gene Simmons is the bassist/secondary vocalist of Kiss, a hard rock band Gene Simmons co-founded in the early 1970s. The huge popularity of his stage persona has positioned him as co-frontman of the band, along with lead singer, Paul Stanley. With Kiss, Gene Simmons has sold over 100 million albums worldwide.

 

Biography

Early life

Chaim Weitz (later Gene Simmons) was born Chaim Weitz Hebrew, חיים ויץ‎; August 25, 1949 at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel in 1949. Mother and child immigrated to Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City when Gene Simmons was eight years old.[1] His mother Flóra "Florence" Klein (formerly Kovács) was born in Jánd, Hungary. The German name Klein (means: small) is sometimes used informally in Hungarian as Kis, this however, did not give the band its name.[2] Florence and her brother, Larry Klein, were the only members of the family to survive the Holocaust. Gene Simmons' father, Feri Witz, also Hungarian-born, remained in Israel, where Gene Simmons had one other son and three daughters. Gene Simmons says the family was "dirt poor," scraping by on bread and milk.[3] In the United States, Gene Simmons changed his name to Eugene Klein (later Gene Klein), adopting his mother's maiden name. Gene Simmons was a part of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath.

Kiss

Gene Simmons became involved with his first band, Lynx, then renamed The Missing Links, when Gene Simmons was a teenager. Eventually, Gene Simmons disbanded The Missing Links to form The Long Island Sounds, the name being a play on words relating to the estuary separating Long Island from Westchester County, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island. While Gene Simmons played in these bands, Gene Simmons kept up odd jobs on the side to make more money, including trading used comic books. Gene Simmons attended Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York. Gene Simmons then joined a new band, Bullfrog Bheer, and the band recorded a demo, "Leeta"; this was later included on the Kiss box set.

Gene Simmons formed the rock band Wicked Lester in the early 1970s with Stanley Harvey Eisen (now known as Paul Stanley) and recorded one album, which was never released. Dissatisfied with Wicked Lester's sound and look, Gene Simmons and Stanley attempted to fire their band members; they were met with resistance, and they quit Wicked Lester, walking away from their record deal with Epic Records. They decided to form the ultimate rock band, and started looking for a drummer. Gene Simmons and Stanley found an ad placed by Peter Criscoula, known as Peter Criss, who was playing clubs in Brooklyn at the time; they joined and started out as a trio. Paul Frehley, better known as Ace Frehley, responded to an ad they put in The Village Voice for a lead guitar player, and soon joined them. Kiss released its self-titled debut album in February 1974. Stanley took on the role of lead performer on stage, while Gene Simmons became the driving force behind what became an extensive Kiss merchandising franchise. The eye section of his "Vampire" makeup with KISS came from the wing design of comic book character Black Bolt.[5]

In 1983, while Kiss' fame was waning, the members took off their trademark make-up and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity that continued into the 1990s. At this time, Peter Criss the original drummer quit the band, and a replacement was sought to fill the drummers vacancy. The drummer that did so, was Paul Charles Caravello, who went by the stage name of Eric Carr, and played for KISS from 1980 until his early death at the age of 41 in 1991. The band hosted their own fan conventions throughout 1995, and fan feedback about the original Kiss members reunion influenced the highly successful 1996–1997 Alive Worldwide reunion tour. In 1998, the band released Psycho Circus. Since then, the original line-up has once again dissolved, with Tommy Thayer replacing Ace Frehley on lead guitar and Eric Singer (who performed with Kiss from 1992 up through 1996) replacing Peter Criss on drums.
Stage makeup and persona

During an interview in 1999, Gene Simmons was asked about the source and significance of Kiss' stage makeup and personas:

I've always been a fan of Americana, and Americana has always been about imagery, often above content. I think there's nothing wrong with that. The world worships this culture. Most people only think about America in terms of rock & roll, movies and television. Kiss is very all-American, in the sense that our constituency has never had anything in common with critics . . . because our power, our lifeblood, our very reason for existence is our fans. Without them, we'd be nothing. Rock & roll is, in fact, all about gimmicks. Most people love gimmicks. I love gimmicks — Jerry Lee Lewis getting up and playing the piano with his foot. I love all of it — anything that puts on a show, where the performer makes a spectacle of himself — and that's everything we've ever been devoted to. If people think of Kiss as performers first and musicians or anything else later, that's wonderful. It's the most boring thing to be known as a musician, because those guys eventually wind up playing Holiday Inns.[6]

Political views

Gene Simmons was a supporter of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration.[7] Gene Simmons supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, writing on his website: "I'm ashamed to be surrounded by people calling themselves liberal who are, in my opinion, spitting on the graves of brave American soldiers who gave their life to fight a war that wasn't theirs...in a country they've never been to... simply to liberate the people therein".[8] In a follow-up, Gene Simmons explained his position and wrote about his love and support for the United States: "I wasn't born here. But I have a love for this country and its people that knows no bounds. I will forever be grateful to America for going into World War II, when it had nothing to gain, in a country that was far away... and rescued my mother from the Nazi German concentration camps. She is alive and I am alive because of America. And, if you have a problem with America, you have a problem with me".[8]

During the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and Lebanon, Gene Simmons sent a televised message of support (in both English and Hebrew) to an Israeli soldier seriously wounded in fighting in Lebanon, calling him his "hero".[9]

In 2010, Gene Simmons said Gene Simmons regretted voting for Barack Obama and criticized the 2009 health care reforms.[10] Following Obama's 2011 Mideast speech, in which the President called on Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a settlement "based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps,"[11] Gene Simmons told CNBC that Obama was gravely misguided. "If you have never been to the moon, you can't issue policy about the moon. For the president to be sitting in Washington D.C. and saying, 'Go back to your '67 borders in Israel' – how about you live there and try to defend an indefensible border – nine miles wide?" Gene Simmons also accused the United Nations of being "the most pathetic body on the face of the earth."[12]

During his visit to Israel in 2011, Gene Simmons stated that the artists refusing to perform in Israel for political reasons are "stupid," referring to artists who canceled planned concerts in Israel.[13]

In an April 2012 interview, Gene Simmons endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for President, stating as well that "America should be in business and it should be run by a businessman."[14]
Personal life

Gene Simmons became a science fiction fan and published several science fiction fanzines, among them Sirruish, Id, Cosmos (which eventually merged with Stilletto to become Cosmos-Stilletto and then Faun), Tinderbox, Sci-Fi Showcase, Mantis and Adventure. Gene Simmons also contributed to other fanzines, among them BeABohema.[15] In the late 1960s, Gene Simmons changed his name to Gene Simmons, after legendary rockabilly performer Jumpin' Gene Simmons.[16] Gene Simmons' legal name after arriving from Israel is Gene Klein. Gene Simmons has said that Gene Simmons has never had alcohol or recreational drugs.[17]

Gene Simmons lives in Beverly Hills, California with former Playboy Playmate and actress Shannon Tweed whom Gene Simmons had dated for 28 years. Gene Simmons often joked that Gene Simmons and Tweed were "happily unmarried" for over 20 years. Gene Simmons often stated, "Marriage is an institution, and I don't want to live in an institution." Gene Simmons and Tweed finally wed on October 1, 2011, at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.[18][19] They have two children: a son, Nick (born January 22, 1989), and a daughter, Sophie (born July 7, 1992). Gene Simmons formerly had live-in relationships with Cher and Diana Ross.[1] Gene Simmons can speak English, German, Hungarian and Hebrew.[1]

Homecoming visit to Israel

In March 2011, Gene Simmons visited Israel, where Gene Simmons was born. Gene Simmons described the trip as a "life changing experience". Gene Simmons talked about how Gene Simmons still feels that Gene Simmons is an Israeli: "I'm Israeli. I'm a stranger in America. I'm an outsider".[20] While there, Gene met his half-brother Kobi, and triplet half-sisters Drora, Sharon and Ogenia.[21] Gene Simmons has plans to bring his band, KISS, to Israel. Gene Simmons has always said that Gene Simmons is an ardent supporter of Israel.[22] At a press conference in Israel, Gene Simmons spoke both Hebrew and English.[23]

Controversy

In February 2002, Gene Simmons was interviewed on the NPR radio show Fresh Air and asked about his claim of having had sex with 4,600 women. Gene Simmons told Terry Gross: "If you want to welcome me with open arms, I'm afraid you're also going to have to welcome me with open legs," paraphrasing a lyric from The Who's 1981 hit song "You Better You Bet". Gross replied: "That's a really obnoxious thing to say." At the time, Gene Simmons refused to grant permission to NPR to make the interview available online.[24] However, it appears in print in Gross's book All I Did Was Ask (ISBN 1-4013-0010-3) and unauthorized transcripts are available. NPR re-broadcast part of the interview in August 2007.[25] Gene Simmons' bandmate Paul Stanley has frequently used the phrase "... welcomed us with open arms and open legs" in onstage patter during Kiss concerts.
In 2004, during an interview in Melbourne, Australia, while talking about Islamic extremists, Gene Simmons described Islam as a "vile culture", saying that Muslim women had to walk behind their husbands, were not allowed to be educated or to own houses. Gene Simmons said: "They want to come and live right where you live and they think that you're evil." Amongst ensuing criticism, Australian Muslim of the Year Susan Carland argued that Gene Simmons' stereotyping of Muslims was inaccurate.[26] Gene Simmons later clarified his comments on his website, saying Gene Simmons had been talking specifically about Muslim extremists.
In 2005, Gene Simmons was sued by a former girlfriend, Georgeann Walsh Ward, who said she had been "defamed" in the VH1 documentary When Kiss Ruled the World and portrayed as an "unchaste woman".[27] A settlement was reached in June 2006.[28]

In 2007, Gene Simmons openly spoke out against music piracy, and called for file-sharers to be sued.[29] A year later, Gene Simmons threatened further lawsuits, and to withhold new recordings, if file-sharing continued.[30] In 2010, Anonymous staged a DDoS on his Web site, prompting Gene Simmons to hit back with provocative comments once Gene Simmons was back online.[30]

In 2011, Kiss was removed from the lineup for Michael Jackson's tribute concert because of Gene Simmons' allegations and negative comments regarding Jackson's personal life and legal issues.[31]

Instruments

Gene Simmons' axe bass at the Hard Rock Cafe in Seattle, Washington

Gene Simmons has used various bass guitars during his career including:

Axe Bass (Kramer, Jackson, B.C. Rich and now Cort)
Punisher Bass (B.C.Rich, now made by Cort)
Spector Gene Simmons Signature
Pedulla Basses (mainly in the 1980s and early 1990s)
Gibson Grabber (mainly in Kiss' early years)
Gibson Ripper (mainly in Kiss' early years)
Custom lebau bass (Wicked Lester, very early kiss circa 73–74)
Cort Guitars Signature GS-1 Bass

Gene Simmons uses Ampeg SVT CL Series amps with 8x10 cabinets. Gene Simmons uses Silver Herco Flex .75 Nylon Flat Guitar Picks. Gene Simmons uses D'Addario EXL165 Nickel Wound Custom Light 45-105 Long Scale Bass Strings. In 2010 Gene Simmons collaborated with Cort Guitars to make his own signature bass line called the GS-AXE-2.
Film and television career

Gene Simmons has been involved with such television projects as:

My Dad the Rock Star, a cartoon by the Canadian animation company Nelvana, about the mild mannered son of a Gene Simmons-like rock star;
Mr. Romance, a show created and hosted by Gene Simmons on the Oxygen cable television channel;
Rock School, a reality show in which Gene Simmons tries to make a rock band out of a group of students of Christ's Hospital School in the first season, and in the second, a group of kids from a comprehensive school in Lowestoft;
Gene Simmons Family Jewels,[32] a reality show documenting the personal lives of Gene Simmons, his wife, his son and daughter

On March 9, 2011, Gene Simmons and Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley and E! Entertainment announced that they have finalized a production and development deal to create an as-yet-untitled comedic half-hour kids' television series.[33] Gene Simmons appeared as a psychic working at the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, California on the American hidden camera prank TV series I Get That a Lot.[34]
Awards and recognition

On January 28, 2011, Gene Simmons was in Dallas, Texas to host the Aces & Angels Salute to the Troops charity event. While in Dallas, Gene Simmons was presented the key to the city in Dallas, Texas and a street, Gene Simmons Boulevard, was named for him. Gene Simmons and Tweed also visited Ft. Hood to support the Troops as a part of the Aces & Angels event. On June 15 of the same year Gene Simmons was given the key to the city in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2012, Gene Simmons was awarded the Golden God award by the Revolver magazine.[35]
Filmography
Year Film Role Bandmates Miscellaneous
1978 Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park The Demon Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley TV movie
1984 Runaway Dr. Charles Luther
1986 Trick or Treat Nuke (radio DJ)
1986 Never Too Young to Die Carruthers / Velvet Von Ragner
1987 Wanted: Dead or Alive Malak Al Rahim
1988 The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years Himself Paul Stanley Documentary
1989 Red Surf Doc
1999 Detroit Rock City Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Gene Simmons also produced
2002 The New Guy Reverend
2002 Wish You Were Dead Vinny
2008 Detroit Metal City Jack lll Dark Japanese movie
2009 Extract[36] Joe Adler
2010 Expecting Mary Taylor
2010 Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage Himself Documentary
Television appearances
Year Show Episode Role Bandmates Miscellaneous
1974 The Mike Douglas Show June 11, 1974 Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Kiss' first national television appearance, performed "Firehouse". During the interview segment, comedian Totie Fields, after looking at Gene Simmons in his full Kiss makeup and costume, remarks to Douglas that underneath it all, "he's probably a nice Jewish boy."
1976 The Paul Lynde Halloween Special October 29, 1976 Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley The band performed "Detroit Rock City" "King of the Night Time World" and "Beth"
1979 Tomorrow Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley
1985 Miami Vice "Prodigal Son" Newton Blade
1997 Action League Now! "Rock-A-Big-Baby" Toy version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley Performed "Rock and Roll All Nite"
1998 MADtv[37] October 31, 1998 (#406) Himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley. Halloween special; performed in five sketches
2001 Family Guy "A Very Special Family Guy Freakin' Christmas" Animated version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley
2001 Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? May 27, 2001 Himself Won $500,000 for a charity
2001 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[38] June 12, 2001 Himself Almost licked Jon Stewart's face in response to Jon being unable to explain the difference between pleasure and joy to a man with a 'twelve-inch tongue'
2002 Family Guy "Road to Europe" Animated version of himself Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley
2002 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno September 6, 2002 Himself
2003 King of the Hill "Reborn to Be Wild" Jessie
2004 Third Watch "Higher Calling" Donald Mann
2004 Third Watch "Monsters" Donald Mann
2004 Third Watch "More Monsters" Donald Mann
2005 American Idol "Auditions: New Orleans" Himself- guest judge
2005 Family Guy "Don't Make Me Over" Animated version of himself/ Prisoner No. 3
2005 Mind of Mencia Episode #1.7 Himself
2006 The View August 1, 2006 Himself Gene Simmons Family Jewels
2007 SpongeBob SquarePants "20,000 Patties Under the Sea" Sea Monster
2007 Shrink Rap "Gene Simmons" Himself UK's More4 show
2008 Entertainment Tonight January 2, 2008 Himself
2008 Jimmy Kimmel Live! January 18, 2008 Himself
2008 Rachael Ray March 11, 2008 Himself
2008 Criss Angel Mindfreak "Mindfreaking with the Stars" Himself
2008 Ugly Betty "The Kids Are Alright" Himself
2008 Ugly Betty "A Thousand Words by Friday" Himself
2008 Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Episode #3.9 Himself Won $500,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation charity
2008 The Celebrity Apprentice First three episodes Himself Won $20,000 for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation charity; Fired in the third episode
2008 Jingles[39] Celebrity judge Mark Burnett reality show
2009 Glenn Martin DDS Glenn Gary, Glenn Martin himself
2009 American Idol Season Finale Himself Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley Performed medley of 3 songs with contestant Adam Lambert
2009 The Fairly OddParents "Wishology – Part 1: The Big Beginning" Animated version of himself Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley
2009 The Fairly OddParents "Wishology – Part 3: The Final Ending" Animated version of himself Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley
2010 I Get That a Lot Episode 2 As Himself Gene Simmons appeared as a psychic working at the Mystic Journey Bookstore in Venice, California
2010 Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Episode 160 As Himself The band Kiss made a personal appearance during the Wagstaff family's vacation in Disneyland and honored them as special guests at one of their concerts. Kiss also made a personal appearance at a local school where a donation of new musical instruments was made in the Wagstaff family's name.
2010 I'm in a Rock 'n' Roll Band! Episode 1 And 5 As Himself Discussing the requirements of being in a rock band.
2011 Castle To Love and Die in LA As Himself
Video appearances

In 2007, Gene Simmons appeared alongside other celebrities, as well as regular people, in the music video for "Rockstar" by Nickelback.

Video Game Appearances

Gene Simmons is a playable character in Tony Hawk's Underground, unlocked when completing the story mode on Normal difficulty, and also appears with his Kiss bandmates in the Hotter Than Hell level to play one of three songs upon collecting the four K-I-S-S letters.

Gene Simmons' Kiss character, The Demon, is a playable character in Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child. Gene Simmons also has a large role in the 2010 music video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. In addition to narrating the main storyline and doing advertising for the game, the Kiss song "Love Gun" is playable.
Discography
Kiss
Main article: Kiss discography
Solo

Gene Simmons (1978)
Sex Money Kiss (audiobook CD), 2003)
Asshole (2004)
Speaking in Tongues (spoken word CD, 2004)

Publishing career

In 2002, Gene Simmons launched Gene Simmons' Tongue, a men's lifestyle magazine.[40] The magazine lasted five issues before being discontinued.

Published works

Kiss and Make-Up, Gene Simmons (ISBN 0-609-81002-2)
Sex Money Kiss, Gene Simmons (ISBN 1-893224-86-4)
Kiss: The Early Years, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley (ISBN 0-609-81028-6)
Kiss: Behind the Mask, David Leaf and Ken Sharp (ISBN 0-446-96524-6)
Ladies of the Night: A Historical and Personal Perspective on the Oldest Profession in the World, Gene Simmons (ISBN 1-59777-501-0) 
 


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