Gene Simmons rallies against racism in America: "it has got to stop"

Gene Simmons Kiss
(Image credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for Race To Erase MS)

Kiss legend Gene Simmons has commented on the racism epidemic that continues to affect America, using an anecdote involving one-time flame Diana Ross to emphasise how deeply the issue has run over the years.

“Yes, [America is] racist," Gene notes in a new interview with Metal Hammer. "Yes, it's anti-semitic. And yet, here in America, there are no limits. You can have an African American president, you can also have the alternate - a semi-racist, semi-extremist president - but anything's possible. Which is why I still worship the idea of America: it can get better and it will get better.

“People think of Martin Luther King, making great advancements for African Americans and just kind of smashing the door open to deal with it," he continues. "And you’ve got to deal with this thing. We’ve got to get along and stop treating African Americans, especially, so horribly in America. Racism has got to stop.”

Gene goes on to use an anecdote courtesy of Diana Ross to illustrate his point. The rocker dated the MoTown icon in the 80s, and says she would tell him stories of her experiences as a young black artist in America in the 1960s

“When I was with Diana Ross, I’d hear what was it like growing up," he notes. "She came from the projects of Detroit. There was a tour with The Supremes headlining, Dave Clark Five opening and they went through the South in a bus. They got to Alabama, someplace, and people are cheering, everybody's going crazy. The Supremes get onstage and everybody starts dancing in the streets –  Where Did Our Love Go and all that stuff. But at the end of the show, shamefully, The Supremes had to go to what was called a ‘Colored’ hotel. And on the way out, on the bus, there were bullet holes in the bus.”

Kiss are due to continue their long-delayed final world tour, including a stop-off at Download festival in June. Read more from Gene's interview in an upcoming issue of Metal Hammer.

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.