On the slim chance you haven’t heard his music, there is a strong possibility you’ve still seen Gene Simmons‘ face. He’s the most marketable man in music and Simmons has no one to thank but himself, turning KISS from a band into a brand; their image has been everywhere, from coffins to condoms and beyond.
That mindset toward success took hold of Simmons and the band from the start of their career as the first act signed to a young record label called Casablanca Records, which CBS-FM morning show host, Scott Shannon, worked for at the time. KISS was Casablanca’s best seller, which was more impressive considering its lineup: Donna Summer, Village People, and Cher, to name a few.
“You had to do it the good ol’ fashion way, which was get in your station wagon — the first tour, anyway — and go around, knockin’ on doors,” recalls Simmons.
“I’d get up five or so in the morning before we had to go to the next place and write a little postcard to the program director. ‘Hey, thanks so much and see ya next time. Come on down. Sorry about your daughter.’ You know, that kind of stuff,” added Simmons, who built a reputation throughout his career as a ladies’ man.
KISS will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 but, unlike most artists who receive the honor, will not perform during the ceremony.
“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is an interesting organization,” said Simmons, referring to the leniency when it came to including members of previously inducted bands. “They refuse to induct all the members of KISS.” Simmons is, of course, referring to Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer — both currently members of the band, each having spent more than a decade with core members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley — have spent more time as a part of KISS than original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.
“Getting up on stage and playing just with Peter and Ace — and not with Tommy and Eric — is a slap in the face to Tommy and Eric,” added Simmons.
Listen to Scott Shannon’s full interview with Gene Simmons, where they also discuss his latest endeavor — ownership of Arena Football League team L.A. KISS — and his appearance on tonight’s episode of CSI on CBS.