Gene Simmons is a hard rock icon of some 50 years' standing. He's a theatrical pioneer and master of merchandising. But nowadays, it seems that the Kiss bassist is talked about as much for his outspoken views as his contribution to rock 'n' roll.
In recent years, Gene has made multiple declarations that rock is dead, attempted to flog air guitar strings and even made an unsuccessful bid to trademark the 'devil horns' hand gesture.
However, truth be told, he’s been pushing button for a while now. In the video below, you can watch Simmons clash with Kiss frontman Paul Stanley as the two record a filmed interview in late 1993.
The on-camera bickering happened ahead of a live performance which was going to be beamed out across America on the annual Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve special. By this point, the band had passed the pageantry of their ’70s golden era – where the lineup was Gene, Paul, guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss – and entered their grottier “unmasked” phase. Ace and Peter had left, leaving Gene and Paul to steer the ship.
The pair’s interview is initially standard fare. The first question, “What was the wildest personal appearance you’ve ever made?”, is answered cordially. “What’s the strangest request you’ve ever received from a fan?” comes after. Gene answers: “It had to do with a baby and a lady who didn’t mind if I gave her one. I declined.”
“What’s the most unusual gift you’ve ever received?” is next. Gene grins devilishly: “A baby.”
Paul’s having none of it. “Yeah, the imaginary baby,” he quips, wiping the smile off his bandmate’s face. He then adds that the greatest gift Kiss ever received is, actually, getting to be a band for twenty years, and being supported by fans the entire time. “That’s a little more important than getting so many women. Any idiot can get women on tour,” he snipes.
Clearly slighted, Gene raises his hand to interrupt, but gets nowhere. When Paul finishes, he pauses the interview and chastises him: “Would you stop cutting me down in front of the camera? I don’t go for that shit.”
Paul takes none of it though, simply telling the interviewer, “Go on,” ready for the next question.
Fortunately, the tensions didn’t derail that night’s show, as the masters rampaged through classics Rock And Roll All Nite and Makin’ Love. And we can only presume Gene and Paul worked out their differences, as they’d continue together for a decade and a half before commencing Kiss’s farewell tour in mid-2019, which is set to draw to a close with two Pacific Kiss Kruises in late October.
Watch the exchange in the video below: