Gene Simmons

Rock Musician

Born: 25 August 1949
Birthplace: Haifa, Israel
Best known as:

Frontman for the rock band KISS

Name at birth: Chaim Witz


Gene Simmons is the front man, lead singer and bass player for KISS, the theatrically-minded and face-painted rock band that had its heyday in the 1970s. Gene Simmons was born in Israel, but he and his mother emigrated to New York in 1958 and he soon began going by the name Gene Klein. After a brief turn as a schoolteacher, he took the name Gene Simmons and helped found KISS with Paul Stanley (guitar, b. Paul Stanley Eisen, 20 January 1952), Peter Criss (drums, b. Peter Crisscoula, 20 December 1947) and Ace Frehley (guitar, b. Paul Frehley, 27 April 1951). Simmons, in demonic makeup, played bass, sang, spat fire and stuck his tongue out really far. The band played heavy metal with a theatrical flair that featured elaborate stage productions with comic-horror themes. KISS toured relentlessly; their live double album KISS Alive (1975) made them superstars, and for the rest of the 1970s they were one of the top acts in the world. In the '80s they recorded sporadically while Simmons, always the busy businessman, pursued other ventures, taking a few movie roles and (incongruously) managing the career of Liza Minnelli. KISS reunited in the mid-1990s, and Simmons continues to be involved in many ventures besides rock and roll, including a line of clothing, a magazine, a cartoon show and a book (KISS and Makeup, 2001). He has twice starred in reality TV shows: teaching British schoolkids in Gene Simmons' Rock School (2005), and appearing with his family in Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which debuted in 2006.

Extra credit:

Gene Simmons married actress Shannon Tweed on 1 October 2011. The pair had been living together since the mid-1980s, and they have two children: Nick (born 22 January 1989) and Sophie (b. 7 July 1992)... A notorious ladies' man in his day, Gene Simmons was in the past romantically linked to Cher and Diana Ross... Gene Simmons is no relation to actress Jean Simmons, the star of The Big Country (1958), Spartacus (1960) and other films... Another 1970s rocker who launched a family-based reality show is Ozzy Osbourne.

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