In 2014 Gene Simmons made some controversial comments about the state of rock music.
“Rock is finally dead,” the KISS bassist told Esquire, blaming file-sharing music piracy for the genre’s demise.
“The death of rock was not a natural death,” Simmons explained. “Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered… The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity — they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won’t, because it’s that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it.”
In a new interview with Gulf News, Simmons doubled down on his comments.
“Rock is dead,” Simmons declared. “And that’s because new bands haven’t taken the time to create glamour, excitement, and epic stuff. I mean, Foo Fighters is a terrific band, but that’s a 20-year-old band. So you can go back to 1958 until 1988. That’s 30 years. During that time, we had Elvis, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones, on and on. In disco, you had Madonna, and then you had your hard rock, you had AC/DC, maybe us, a few others. Motown, all that great music. From 1988, until today, that’s more than 30 years. Tell me who the new Beatles is. You can’t. There are popular bands. BTS is very popular. All kinds of bands are very popular. That doesn’t mean iconic and legacy and for all time. It’s different.”
While Simmons may lament that no group has risen up to become the next Beatles or Stones, that doesn’t mean there aren’t modern artists whom he respects.
“I love all the pop artists. I think Billie Eilish is fantastic. She’s interesting because she and her brother actually write the material and are unique to themselves,” Simmons said.
“Lady Gaga is fantastic in the female category. She writes her own material, she can sing like nobody’s business. But she actually is a musician, writes her own songs, plays piano, she can actually do that,” he added. “The rest of the world reacts to a lot of the pop divas, although mostly they don’t write their own songs and can’t play an instrument. And by the way, that’s okay, too. It doesn’t matter what you like. But it ain’t the Beatles.”
Simmons’ bandmate Paul Stanley, however, verily disagreed with his assessment of rock.
“Well, it’s very interesting that the only music that consistently sells out concerts on a large scale is rock ‘n’ roll,” Stanley noted. “And, quite honestly, if you go to see any of the more current acts, I would say, they’re doing KISS shows. KISS DNA is in every entertainment venue that you see. We wrote the book on presentation, and there’s not a band or entertainer out there that I don’t go see and have a little chuckle, and not for any other reason except [realizing] we’ve left our mark.”
Stanley added, “I think it was a wake-up call to audiences of what’s possible, and that they shouldn’t accept less. So as far as rock ‘n’ roll being dead, I would bet the farm, so to speak, that Led Zeppelin will outlast anything that has the No. 1 record today.”