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Chaim Witz (Hebrew: חיים ויץ; born August 25, 1949), better known as Gene Simmons, is an Israeli-American musician, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, actor and television personality. Known by his stage persona The Demon, he is the bass guitarist and co-lead singer of Kiss, the rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s.
Chaim Witz was born at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel, on August 25, 1949. At age 8, he immigrated to New York City with his mother, settling in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. Simmons was raised in a Jewish home where he practiced on his guitar hours without end. His mother, Flóra "Florence" Klein (formerly Kovács), was born in Jánd, Hungary. The name Klein, which means "small" in German, has the Hungarian equivalent Kis (a common Hungarian surname); this, however, did not give the band its name. Simmons' mother survived internment in Nazi concentration camps. She and her brother, Larry Klein, were the only members of the family to survive the Holocaust.
Simmons' father, Feri Witz, also Hungarian-born, remained in Israel, where he had one other son and three daughters, and worked as a carpenter. Simmons says the family was "dirt poor," scraping by on bread and milk. In the United States, Simmons changed his name to Eugene Klein (later Gene Klein), adopting his mother's maiden name.
Before his musical career began, Simmons worked a variety of jobs in the city. An "excellent typist," he served as an assistant to an editor of the fashion magazineVogue, and also spent several months as a sixth grade instructor on the Upper West Side.
A significant influence on Simmons was the Beatles. "There is no way I'd be doing what I do now if it wasn't for the Beatles. I was watching The Ed Sullivan Show and I saw them. Those skinny little boys, kind of androgynous, with long hair like girls. It blew me away that these four boys [from] the middle of nowhere could make that music."
Gene Simmons as "The Demon" onstage with Kiss, 2010
Simmons became involved with his first band, Lynx, then renamed The Missing Links, when he was a teenager. Eventually, he disbanded the band to form The Long Island Sounds, the name being a pun on Long Island Sound. While he played in these bands, he kept up odd jobs on the side to make more money, including trading used comic books. Simmons attended Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York. He then joined a new band, Bullfrog Bheer, and the band recorded a demo, "Leeta"; this was later included on the Kiss box set.
Simmons formed the rock band Wicked Lester in the early 1970s with Stanley Bert Eisen (now known as Paul Stanley) and recorded one album, which was never released. Dissatisfied with Wicked Lester's sound and look, 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. Simmons and Stanley found an ad placed by Peter Criscuola, 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 their self-titled debut album in February 1974. Stanley took on the role of lead performer on stage, while Simmons became the driving force behind what became an extensive Kiss merchandisingfranchise. The eye section of his "Demon" makeup with Kiss came from the wing design of comic book character Black Bolt.
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, had decided to leave the band, and a replacement was sought to fill the drummer's vacancy. The new drummer was Paul Charles Caravello, who went by the stage name of Eric Carr, and played for Kiss from 1980 until his death in 1991. The band hosted its own fan conventions in 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 1991 through 1996) replacing Peter Criss on drums.
Gene is famous worldwide for his giant tongue and on stage is remarkable for his demonic figure by spitting fire and vomiting stage blood, in addition to playing his ax down on format. Has its own magazine "Gene Simmons Tongue Magazine", his own label ( Simmons Record ), animated " My Dad the Rock Star ". In most Kiss songs, lead vocals are performed by lead vocalist & rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, but there are some notable exceptions, in which Gene plays lead vocals, such as "Rock and Roll All Nite", "A World Without Heroes", "I Love It Loud", "Calling Dr. Love", "Unholy", "Spit (Second lead vocals)", "Boomerang", "You Wanted the Best (First lead vocals)", among other songs in which Gene also performs lead vocals.
During an interview in 1999, 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.
Simmons was a supporter of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration. He 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". In a follow-up, 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."
During the 2006 Lebanon War between Israel and Lebanon, 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."
In 2010, Simmons said he regretted voting for Barack Obama and criticized the 2009 health care reforms. 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," 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 (14 km) wide?" Simmons also accused the United Nations of being "the most pathetic body on the face of the earth."
During his visit to Israel in 2011, he stated that the artists refusing to perform in Israel for political reasons are "stupid," referring to artists who canceled planned concerts in Israel.
In an April 2012 interview, Simmons endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for President, stating as well that "America should be in business and it should be run by a businessman."
On 6 November 2015 he attended a Friends of the Israel Defense Forces gala in Beverly Hills, which raised more than $31 million.
Simmons is a science-fiction and comic book fan and published several science fiction fanzines, among them Id, Cosmos (which eventually merged with Stilletto to become Cosmos-Stilletto and then Faun), Tinderbox, Sci-Fi Showcase, Mantis and Adventure. He also contributed to other fanzines, among them BeABohema and Sirruish.
In March 2011, Simmons visited his birthplace, Israel. He described the trip as a "life changing experience". He talked about how he still feels that he is an Israeli: "I'm Israeli. I'm a stranger in America. I'm an outsider". While there, Simmons met his half-brother Kobi, and triplet half-sisters Drora, Sharon, and Ogenia. Simmons has plans to take his band Kiss to Israel. He has always said that he is an ardent supporter of Israel. At a press conference in Israel, he spoke both Hebrew and English.
Gene Simmons is a known advocate for ChildFund International's work. He traveled to Zambia during his Gene Simmons Family Jewels show to visit several of his sponsored children, of whom he has more than 140. Simmons said that the trip “[was] a stark reminder that life doesn’t treat everyone the same.” 
Simmons' family received the MEND Humanitarian Award for their philanthropic efforts and support for Mending Kids International at the organization's annual gala on November 9, 2013. The award was presented by Mel Gibson. In his acceptance speech, Simmons spoke of his own difficult childhood in Israel in a bullet-ridden house. He recalled his mother's excitement when they received a CARE box one day; it wasn't about the contents, it was about knowing that someone cared and that they weren't alone – it gave them hope.
In February 2002, Simmons was interviewed on the NPR radio show Fresh Air and asked about his claim of having had sex with 4,600 women. He 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, Simmons refused to grant permission to NPR to make the interview available online. 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. In a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post, Simmons noted he was upset over what he perceived as Gross's "holier-than-thou" attitude, which included mislabeling his band Kiss as "The Kiss"  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, 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. He 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 Simmons' stereotyping of Muslims was inaccurate. Simmons later clarified his comments on his website, saying he had been talking specifically about Muslim extremists.
In 2005, 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". A settlement was reached in June 2006.
In 2007, Simmons openly spoke out against music piracy, and called for file-sharers to be sued. A year later, he threatened further lawsuits, and to withhold new recordings, if file-sharing continued. In 2010, Anonymous staged a DDoS on his Web site, prompting Simmons to hit back with provocative comments once he was back online, at which point Anonymous staged a second DDoS, taking Simmons' site down again.
In 2008, a video on the Internet surfaced which purported to be Simmons engaging in sexual activity with an unnamed woman. Simmons later stated that the tape was recorded without his consent or knowledge and that his legal team was pursuing legal options including copyright infringement.
In August 2014, Simmons made comments in an interview with Songfacts.com that seemed to openly encourage people with depression to kill themselves. The comments drew criticism from Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue. Following his comments both Triple M and Power 97 stated that they were pulling all Kiss songs from their lineup in protest. Simmons later clarified his comments and apologized for the incident.
In September 2014, Simmons made more comments yet again in another interview, but this time implying "Rock Is Finally Dead. It Was Murdered". The Kiss bassist recently made controversial remarks about Donald Sterling, immigration and depression (which he eventually backed off from), and now the Kiss bassist has another enormous statement to make: "Rock is finally dead," Simmons declared in an interview with Esquire. "The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered," he added. But rock's killer wasn't the blurring of musical genres or lack of craftsmanship. Instead, Simmons blames file sharing and the fact that no one values music "enough to pay you for it" for murdering rock n' roll.
He uses Ampeg SVT CL Series amplifiers with 8x10" cabinets. He uses Silver Herco Flex .75 Nylon Flat Guitar Picks. He uses D'Addario EXL165 Nickel Wound Custom Light .45-.105 Long Scale Bass Strings and Dunlop Electric Bass Guitar Stainless Steel Heavy .050 -.110 strings. In 2010 Gene Simmons collaborated with Cort Guitars to make his own signature bass line called the GS-AXE-2.
On January 28, 2011, Simmons was in Dallas, Texas, to host the Aces & Angels Salute to the Troops charity event. While in Dallas, Simmons was presented the key to the city in Dallas, Texas and a street, Gene Simmons Boulevard, was named for him. 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 he was given the key to the city in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2012, Simmons was awarded the Golden God award by the Revolver magazine. On October 30, 2013 during the KISS KRUISE 3, KISS Navy members John and Jamie Downs presented Gene Simmons with a plaque commemorating the Smithsonian National Museum of American History's acceptance of an autographed Gene Simmons Axe bass into their collection. The Smithsonian Museum's statement reads, in part: "The bass will now be cared for in our permanent collections... We are happy to include the Axe bass as it relates to the impact Mr. Simmons and his band KISS have had on American culture, especially in the creation of a unique and iconic brand that has been embraced by fans worldwide." "The story of Mr. Simmons' American experience deserves to be preserved. An immigrant and son of a holocaust survivor, he used creative vision and entrepreneurial acumen to make a significant impact for our nation's popular culture, becoming an iconic figure in American music and entertainment." 
Simmons is an honorary board member of Little Kids Rock, an national nonprofit that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools. A&E’s Gene Simmons Family Jewels visited a Little Kids Rock classroom and featured the segment on the show. He also decorated a guitar for auction with his son Nick.
On December 15, 2014, Simmons was awarded in Spain with the Golden Medal by the Reial Circle Artístic de Barcelona (Royal Artistic Circle of Barcelona).
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.
In 1994, Simmons appears as auditioning for the band with actor Al Lewis & comedian Gilbert Gottfried in a music video for "I'll Talk My Way Out Of This" by Howard Stern comedian Stuttering John. In 2007, he appeared alongside other celebrities, as well as regular people, in the music video for "Rockstar" by Nickelback.
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.
In 1976/1977, Simmons signed a management/production contract with the band Van Halen. He produced a Van Halen demo tape and attempted to find a record deal for the band with a variety of major record labels. Simmons was unable to find a record deal for Van Halen and he released the band from their contract.