Simmons in Los Angeles, California, on October 15, 2012
|Native name||חיים ויץ|
|Birth name||Chaim Witz (//)|
|Also known as||The Demon
August 25, 1949 |
Tirat Carmel, Israel
|Genres||Hard rock, heavy metal|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer, actor, entrepreneur|
|Instruments||Vocals, bass guitar, guitar, keyboards, drums|
|Associated acts||Kiss, Wicked Lester|
Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz; Hebrew: חיים ויץ; August 25, 1949) is an Israeli-born American rock bass guitarist, singer-songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, actor, and television personality. Known by his stage persona The Demon, he is the bass guitarist/co-lead vocalist of Kiss, the rock band he co-founded in the early 1970s. With Kiss, Simmons has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide.
Chaim Witz was born at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel, on August 25, 1949. With his mother, he emigrated to New York City, at eight years, neither of them speaking any English, and settling in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. His mother Flóra "Florence" Klein (formerly Kovács) was born in Jánd, Hungary. The name Klein, which means "small" in German, is sometimes used informally in Hungarian as Kis; this, however, did not give the band its name. Simmons' mother Florence survived internment in Nazi concentration camps. She and her brother, Larry Klein, were the only members of the family to survive the Holocaust.
Simmons's 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. He was a part of Yeshiva Torah Vodaas in Williamsburg, Brooklyn as a child, from 7:00 am to 9:30 pm.
Before his musical career began, Simmons worked a variety of jobs in the New York City area. An "excellent typist", he served as an assistant to an editor of the fashion magazine Vogue, 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."
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 the 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 merchandising franchise. 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 early death at the age of 41 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.
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."
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.
Simmons lives in Los Angeles, California, with Canadian former Playboy Playmate and actress Shannon Tweed whom he had dated for 28 years. He often joked that he and Tweed were "happily unmarried" for over 20 years (1975). He often stated, "Marriage is an institution, and I don't want to live in an institution." Simmons and Tweed finally wed on October 1, 2011, at the historic Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. They have two children: a son, Nick (born January 22, 1989), and a daughter, Sophie (born July 7, 1992). He formerly had live-in relationships with Cher and Diana Ross. Simmons can speak Hungarian, German, English, and Hebrew.
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, Gene 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. Gene said, “is a stark reminder that life doesn’t treat everyone the same.” 
Gene 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, Gene 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.
Gene Simmons has used various bass guitars during his career including:
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.
Simmons has been involved with such television projects as:
On March 9, 2011, 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. 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. He also guest-starred as himself in the 2014 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation episode Long Road Home. He also performed in the 1984 Michael Crichton movie Runaway starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes and Kirstie Alley.
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.
|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|
|1999||Detroit Rock City||Himself||Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley,||Simmons also produced|
|2002||The New Guy||Reverend|
|2002||Wish You Were Dead||Vinny|
|2008||Detroit Metal City||Jack lll Dark||Japanese movie|
|2010||Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage||Himself||Documentary|
|2013||Sample This: The Incredible Story of the Incredible Bongo Band||Himself||Documentary|
|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 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|
|1986||The Hitchhiker||"O.D.Feelin'"(Jan.28)||Mr. Big|
|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||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 $32,000 for a charity|
|2001||The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||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||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||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|
|2014||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Long Road Home||As Himself|
|2014||American Idol||Season 13 Finale||Himself||Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Paul Stanley||Performed with Caleb Johnson|
|2014||Welcome to Sweden||S1 Ep4: Get a Job/Farthinder||Himself|
|2014||Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff||Himself|
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 the band Stuttering John, video aired only on MTV Japan, never in the U.S.. 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.
Gene Simmons' Kiss character, The Demon, is a playable character in Kiss: Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child. 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.
In 2002, Simmons launched Gene Simmons' Tongue, a men's lifestyle magazine. The magazine lasted five issues before being discontinued.
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.
In the mid-2000s, Simmons was a principal investor in "Gene Simmons' Toyota" in Newbridge, New Jersey. As a public service, he would discuss the dealership and give financial advice on a local high school radio station.
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