Gene Simmons is a household name in rock and roll. In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the legendary singer and songwriter!
Who is Gene Simmons?
Gene Simmons, also known as The Demon, Dr. Love, God of Thunder, and Reginald Van Helsing is actually named Gene Klein. He is a legendary singer, songwriter and musician. He was born with the Hebrew name Chaim Witz on August 25, 1949. Gene Simmons arrived in the United States in New York City at the age of 8 with his mother. He practiced playing the guitar for hours in his Jewish household with his mother who was a survivor of the Nazi concentration camps. Gene Simmons described his childhood as “dirt poor”, saying that they scraped by just barely making ends meet. In his younger years, Simmons worked as an assistant at Vogue magazine and even as an educator.
What’s His Net Worth?
Gene Simmons isn’t poor by any stretch of the imagination. His net worth is reportedly around $300 million, including several facets of income, including his own merchandise, a career as a solo artist, and being an author. His net worth also includes a salary of $125,000 per episode of his reality TV show, Family Jewels which aired from 2006-2012.
Wicked Lester & Kiss – Gene Simmons’ Musical Career
In his teens, Simmons started his first band that he named the Missing Links. From there he created the band, The Long Island Sounds, all while still attending Sullivan County Community College in New York. At this young college age, he joined a band named Bullfrog Bheer, which recorded a demo titled, “Leeta”. In the year 1970s, Simmons formed a rock band and named it Wicked Lester with Paul Stanley. Wicked Lester recorded one album under the record label Epic Records that was never released. Simmons wasn’t pleased with the band’s look and sound so the two musicians left Wicked Lester. Later, after finding a drummer named Peter Criss they put an ad in The Village Voice for a lead guitar player to which Ace Frehley responded. Soon after, they formed the rock band Kiss. Kiss and Simmons released their first album, also named Kiss, in 1974. Using the wing design of comic book character Black Bolt, Simmons created the eye section of his Demon makeup, which Simmons wore on stage. During the 1970s the group rose to immense fame and notoriety due to its elaborate live performances. Simmons served as its main songwriter and wrote several hits. Simmons was not the only member known for his face makeup. In fact, all of the members, including the drummer all wore extensive face makeup during performances that resembled several comic book characters. As legendary as Simmons’ face mask was, their showmanship was equally as elaborate. Simmons and Kiss were known for levitating drums, smoking guitars, fire-breathing and spitting blood. Simmons and Stanley remained in the group throughout several years and changes to group members. Simmons was not just a singer, but also plays bass guitar, his original love. By the early 1980s both Criss and Frehley had left the group due to creative differences. In 1983 Kiss ditched the makeup and costumes and regained a lot of their popularity. Simmons and Stanley both remained in the group and enjoyed having their music played on the new television network, Music Television. Simmons has been touted as the mastermind and driving force behind the equally legendary Kiss merchandising franchise. Thanks to Simmons, according to Brandweek magazine, “Kiss has licensed its name to more than 3,000 product categories, from lunch boxes and comic books to credit cards and condoms to become nearly a one-billion-dollar brand.” Thanks to Simmons’ tenacity, the Kiss franchise includes comic books, action figures, condoms, caskets, lighters and in 2006 a new product line of beauty, shampoo and fragrance products.
Gene Simmons’ Personal Life
Although Simmons has had long relationships with both Cher and Diana Ross, Simmons has been in a long time relationship with former Playboy Playmate Shannon Lee Tweed for most of his life. The couple dated happily for over 25 years. Simmons has often referred to marriage as an institution that he does not want to live in. On October 1, 2011, Simmons and Tweed married in Beverly Hills. Tweed and Simmons share a daughter, Sophie and a Son Nick. Simmons’ life, however, has not been without controversy. In 2002 Simmons claimed to have had sex with 4,600 women on the NPR radio show Fresh Air. His paraphrasing of a popular song by The Who also lent to the controversy when Simmons said “If you want to welcome me with open arms, I’m afraid you’re also going to have to welcome me with open legs.” Although Simmons refused to give NPR permission to air the interview, but the interviewer, Terry Gross, allowed the excerpt to be printed in his book All I Did Was Ask. Following his outlandish behavior in radio interviews, Simmons earned bans from other networks as well. Simmons was banned for life from Fox News after he burst into a meeting shirtless and began telling jokes. Other bans of his music occurred after Simmons made comments that seemed to encourage people with depression to take their own lives. In spite of his misgivings, Simmons made great steps in the way of family and charity. Simmons visited his home country of Israel in 2001 after his marriage to Tweed and described the trip as life changing and met his half-brother and sisters. Simmons is also an advocate for Child Fund International and Mending Kids International.
Gene Simmons has lived a wild life all on his own terms and makes no apologies for being exactly who he is.