Gene Simmons: 'Pathetic That' Prince 'Killed Himself'

| by Michael Allen
Gene SimmonsGene Simmons

Gene Simmons, the frontman of the 1970s band Kiss, shared his opinion on the deaths of Prince, whose complete autopsy results have not been released, and David Bowie, who passed away earlier this year from cancer.

"Bowie was the most tragic of all because it was real sickness," Simmons told Newsweek. "All the other ones were a choice."

When asked about Prince, Simmons replied:

His drugs killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold?

...I think Prince was heads, hands and feet above all the rest of them. I thought he left [Michael] Jackson in the dust. Prince was way beyond that. But how pathetic that he killed himself. Don’t kid yourself, that’s what he did. Slowly, I’ll grant you... but that’s what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death.

Simmons was asked if he ever met Prince, and he recalled:

 I took Diana [Ross, his girlfriend at the time] to see him when he was first starting out. He was playing a club and we’d never seen anything like that. Backstage when we came up to say ‘you were great,’ we were expecting this huge personality and he was a very small, slight human being. He might have been five-foot-four, very shy, with his eyes to the ground, very self-effacing. He just couldn’t take a compliment: ‘Thank you, thank you.’ He spoke in a whisper. It was shocking actually. He couldn’t look Diana Ross in the face—he kept his eyes to the ground.

Simmons went on to say how he has "never been high or drunk" in his life, except while being knocked out at the dentist office.

Simmons told Rolling Stone on March 17: "I am looking forward to the death of rap. I'm looking forward to music coming back to lyrics and melody, instead of just talking. A song, as far as I'm concerned, is by definition lyric and melody … or just melody."

However, Simmons told Newsweek:

I didn’t mean that mean-spirited. I’ve got to watch my words. Of course I don’t want it to die. But it will. Rock dies, rap dies—doo-wop died. Remember this? [He sings in the style of doo-wop.] That’s dead. That Chuck Berry stuff is gone. Folk rock went. All things will pass. This idea that music will last forever is delusional.

...N.W.A. is a legendary hip-hop act, perhaps the preeminent one—but it ain’t rock. The day N.W.A. goes into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I want Kiss in the hip-hop hall of fame.

You can walk up to [Dr.] Dre and say: ‘What kind of band are you?’ He’s not going to say: ‘We’re a rock band.’ If you ask us what band we are, I’m not going to say hip-hop.

Ice Cube, we hung out a little and took some photos. I greatly admire him as a father. In this day and age, fathers have a horrible record—many fathers leave their families, whether they’re married or not. Our record is not good. But he’s a great father. We’ve gone back-and-forth on the Internet, but I respect him.

Simmons also bashed musical acts that use backing tracks:

J.Lo, Beyoncé and all that stuff, when there’s 50 percent or more of backing track, it’s dishonest. When you buy food it tells you if it’s got 50 percent sugar, 10 percent this. At least have the honesty to respect your fans: ‘You’re buying a $150 ticket, at least 50 percent of the music you’re going to hear is not live.’ Say it. At least then you’ll have the integrity.

Sources: NewsweekRolling Stone / Photo credit: Toronto Social Review/Flickr

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