Gene Simmons apologises to David Lee Roth after 'bloated naked Elvis' jibe

Composite picture of David Lee Roth and Gene Simmons
(Image credit: Per Ole Hagen/Paul Bergen/Getty Images)

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons has apologised to former Van Halen singer David Lee Roth after the pair traded insults online. 

The trouble started when Simmons was interviewed by Rolling Stone. Asked why Roth was no longer supporting Kiss on their End Of The Road Tour, he responded, "He was the ultimate frontman. Not Plant, not Rod Stewart, nobody. He took being a frontman way beyond anything. 

"And then, I don’t know what happened to him… something. And you get modern-day Dave. I prefer to remember Elvis Presley in his prime. Sneering lips, back in Memphis, you know, doing all that. I don’t want to think of bloated naked Elvis on the bathroom floor."

Roth responded with a series of Instagram posts, each featuring a child with its middle finger extended towards the camera, next to the phrase "Roth to Simmons".

Now Simmons has apologised. In a video interview with US Weekly (below), he says, "I don't mean to hurt peoples' feelings, but every once in a while diarrhoea of the mouth comes out. I am so sorry - and ashamed, actually - that I hurt David's feelings."

Simmons goes on to talk about the part he played in Van Halen's early days, when he took the then-unsigned band into a studio to record a demo after watching them perform at the Starwood Club in Los Angeles, before returning to the Rolling Stone interview.  

"I think I said something like, 'Nobody touched David in his prime. Not Robert Plant, not Jagger, not anybody. He was the king.'", Simmons explains. "And then somehow there was a segue to Elvis bloated on the ground and fat and naked, and I don't wanna see that. I wasn't talking about David, but that doesn't matter. 

"What matters is I hurt David's feelings, and that's more important than the intent. So I sincerely apologize for that. I didn't mean to hurt his feelings. It reminds me of the guy that gets out of a truck and says, 'Hey, I'm sorry, buddy. I didn't mean to run you over.' Well, what the fuck's the difference? You've been run over."

Simmons has the final word on the subject, saying "I don't think anybody gives two shits about what I think, and that's the way it should be."

Roth had originally been the main support act on North American leg of the Kiss's farewell tour, including the final shows before lockdown in March 2020. Kiss perform this evening (Wednesday) at the Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio.      

Elsewhere in the interview, Simmons talks about his upcoming art exhibition, which will run October 14 -16 at the Animazing Gallery in Las Vegas.  

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.