Gene Simmons is a unique guy. Whereas most gimmicky rock stars of the 70s and 80s have either faded away into comedic oblivion (or far worse) or, in rare cases, at least adapted their images to fit their modern expectations, Simmons still believes that he’s one of the biggest rock stars in the world, and he doesn’t seem to give a f*ck what anyone thinks. If he has an opinion about something, he’s going to share it, and he’s certainly not going to let anyone try to tell him that KISS hasn’t been considered cool for a long, long time.
As his new Arena Football League franchise is getting ready to help keep his and Paul Stanley’s legacy alive, Simmons will also play himself in an episode of CSI tonight. The plot? A groupie disappears and a prostitute is murdered, so naturally the investigators need to call in the man with the long tongue for his expertise. On top of it all, KISS will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 10 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but as you’ve probably heard by now, KISS won’t be playing the show. Instead, Simmons and Stanley are boycotting the show because the HOF committee is disrespecting the world’s greatest rock band in the history of music or something along those lines.
In an interview on Entertainment Weekly Radio, Simmons laid out his side of the story for why his band won’t be playing at what would be its biggest night in many years.
“Paul and I got on the phone and called Ace and Peter,” Simmons explained of what happened right when they found out about the induction. “‘Hey, congratulations. It was an honor to stand alongside you then and we’ll be proud to stand alongside of you at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to accept the award.’ And they were gracious and happy and God bless, and all of that, and we went off our separate ways. And then we found out the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will only be honoring the original lineup with Ace, Peter, Paul and myself, and we said, ‘Oh okay, then we won’t be playing there. We’ll just accept the award. Thank you very much.’ And they go, ‘What are you talking about?’ and I said, ‘Well, you have a group like the Eagles who continue to be our contemporaries…and every member that has even been in the Eagles has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But you’re only gonna honor the first lineup that was together for seven years? We’ve been around forty years. Tommy and Eric have been in the band 20 years — two and a half times longer than Ace and Peter. You’re going to slap them in the face and we’re supposed to get you a sandwich and make sure you burp at 9 o’clock at night and get up on stage and do it? No, that’s not going to happen.’” (Via EW)
One of the things that I really love about Simmons is that any time you read a quote like that, you can totally hear it in his voice, and that allows you to really feel how pissy and bitter he is about it all. Just by the way he talks and acts, I don’t think that Simmons has ever been impressed with anything in his life. It’s remarkable.
The fun doesn’t stop with EW, though. Simmons also talked to Radio.com about CSI and the HOF, and just sit back and admire the smarmy way in which he hijacks this perfectly innocent question.
In 2008, you published Ladies of the Night: A Historical and Personal Perspective on the Oldest Profession in the World, so you’re obviously familiar with the industry.
It was a researched book, I’m not a gentleman who paid for it. And, you’re right! I’m glad you asked me: KISS are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Note: the interviewer had yet to get to that question] It’s a well meaning organization run by about ten guys. I don’t think that there are any women on the board, which is interesting. And these ten guys, some of them are good guys, some perhaps not, decided that there would be rappers and disco artists inducted. Our contemporaries, the Eagles, are in the Hall of Fame, and every single member that has been in the Eagles is inducted. And so when they offered the induction to us, we graciously said thank you. But then they said, “Only [founding members] Ace [Frehley], Paul [Stanley], Peter [Criss] and Gene get to be in.” So we said, “OK, thank you.” And so we called up [former members] Ace and Peter and said, “Congratulations, we’ll proudly stand alongside you, accept the award.”
But we’re not going to play. So [the Rock Hall] said, “What do you mean? We have the E Street band and [Bruce] Springsteen, we need KISS to close the show! It’s going to be on HBO.” We said, “You’re not going to honor [current guitarist] Tommy [Thayer] and [current drummer] Eric [Singer], who have been in the band for twenty years, two and a half times longer than the original lineup. And they’re supposed to stay home?”
How about this: we’re going to honor you and at the award ceremony, you can only bring the first girlfriend you ever went out with, not the present love of your life. Can I get you a sandwich while I’m at it? So, we’ll graciously accept the award. But it’s disrespectful to present members of the band.
Basically, Simmons has a point to make and he likes sandwiches. That’s what I’ve taken away from that. But this time, Simmons didn’t just stop with his beef over the exclusion of Thayer and Singer. He also vented his problems with the HOF’s decision-making process and, most notably, the inclusion of rappers.
I have no beef with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You go on with your bad self and get more disco artists. Get the Boston Pops Orchestra to be inducted! A long time ago it was diluted. It’s really back room politics, like Boss Tweed. A few people decide what’s in and what’s not. And the masses just scratch their heads. You’ve got Grandmaster Flash in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Run-D.M.C. in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You’re killing me! That doesn’t mean those aren’t good artists. But they don’t play guitar. They sample and they talk. Not even sing!
He even took a shot at his “next door neighbor” Donna Summer for being inducted into the Hall of Fame before he eventually wandered outside and shouted at passing cars and took a nap on a bus bench.