- NAME: Gene Simmons
- OCCUPATION: Bassist, Singer, Reality Television Star
- BIRTH DATE: August 25, 1949 (Age: 64)
- EDUCATION: Joseph Pulitzer Middle School, Sullivan County Community College, Richmond College
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Haifa, Israel
- Originally: Chaim Weitz
- AKA: Eugene Klein
- Nickname: The Demon
- ZODIAC SIGN: Virgo
Best Known For
Gene Simmons is best known as the frontman for KISS, the rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s, as well as for his TV show Gene Simmons Family Jewels.
Gene Simmons - Full Biography (42:07)
Meet Gene Simmons, the rowdy co-founder of KISS, one of the most successful rock'n'roll bands in American history, and see how he's managed to outlast, outthink, and outplay most other rock stars.
A preview of William Shatner's interview with musician Gene Simmons.
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But although KISS hit the road consistently, they wouldn't gain popular appeal until their live album Alive! (1975), hit the stores. The album spawned the group's first hit single, "Rock and Roll All Nite," which jumped onto the Billboard Top 40 charts.
Their next album, an ambitious recording called Destroyer (1976), became the second album to hit gold. With the release of the single "Beth," which hit No. 7 on the charts, the album went platinum. Later that year,
the group released another successful album, Rock and Roll Over, followed by 1977's Love Gun and Alive II. All three albums hit platinum, and by the end of that year, KISS had been named the most popular band in America. KISS was also making a splash internationally. They topped the charts in Japan, Canada, Sweden and Germany, and performed five sold-out shows at Budokan Hall in Japan, breaking the The Beatles' previously held record of four.
But as the band rolled successfully into the 80s, tensions began mount among the group's members. Criss had grown increasingly obstinate, refusing to practice and even stopping in the middle of songs during concerts. In December of 1979, Criss officially left the group. After numerous auditions, he was replaced by musician Paul Caravello—later know by the stage name, Eric Carr. In 1982, Frehley, frustrated with the group's new musical direction, also left KISS. Frehley's replacement, guitarist Vinne Vincent, didn't mesh well with the group, and went through a series of firings and re-hirings before leaving for good in 1984. He was succeeded by guitarists Mark St. John and, eventually, Bruce Kulick.
Stanley, Simmons, Carr, and Kulick turned out to be a good fit creatively, and the group began releasing platinum albums such as 1985's Asylum, 1987's Crazy Nights and the 1988 greatest hits compilation Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. The group had also started appearing without make-up in 1983, relying less on flashy showmanship, and more on substance.
Simmons struggled to maintain enthusiasm for the new incarnation of his band, however, instead focusing on a film career. His films, however, including B-movies such as Runaway (1984) and Trick of Treat (1986), never quite took off at the box office. Simmons and his bandmates suffered another setback when Carr discovered he had developed cancer. After battling the disease for several years, Carr eventually died of cerebral hemorrhaging in 1991.
KISS rallied in the midst of their grieving, taking on new drummer Eric Singer, and released the album, Revenge in 1992. The album made gold status, and landed in the Billboard Top 10. While the most recent incarnation of KISS continued recording and touring, Simmons and Stanley also assembled a reunion tour of the original members in 1996. Performances with the original group continued in full make-up and costume, and grossed more than $43.6 million, making Kiss the top concert act of 1996.
By this time, however, Simmons was busy pursuing other interests, including publishing, fashion and acting.
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