Gene Simmons is trying to make things right with David Lee Roth.
In a new interview with Us Weekly, the KISS bassist offered his sincere apology for insulting comments he made about Roth earlier this month.
“I am so sorry and ashamed, actually, that I hurt David’s feelings,” Simmons said. “I’m the guy, actually, that saw Van Halen at a club [in the 1970s], signed them to my production company, flew them to New York, produced their first 24-track 15-song demo and championed the band. … And in the course of an interview… You hear me talking — I just sort of stream of consciousness… I don’t mean to hurt people’s feelings, and every once in a while, diarrhea of the mouth comes out.”
He continued, “I read that quote, and somehow the way they put it together… I think I said something like, ‘Nobody touched David in his prime — not Robert Plant, not Jagger, not anybody… He was the king.’ And then somehow there was a segue to Elvis bloated on the ground and fat and naked and I don’t wanna see that. I wasn’t talking about David, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is I hurt David’s feelings, and that’s more important than the intent. So I sincerely apologize for that. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. It reminds me of the guy that gets out of a truck and says, ‘Hey, I’m sorry, buddy. I didn’t mean to run you over.’ Well, what the f–k’s the difference? You’ve been run over.”
Roth had been the opening act for KISS during their previous tour, which ground to a halt in spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
KISS recently resumed live performing, with the band currently on the road for their End of the Road tour (culminating at the end of the year with a Las Vegas residency); Roth, however, is no longer in the opening spot, which is now being filled by performance painter Garibaldi (who appeared in the 2012 season of “America’s Got Talent”).
In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Simmons confirmed Roth would “not” be returning as opening act, and offered a scathing explanation.
“But it bears noting that during Dave’s heyday, nobody did what he did. He was the ultimate frontman. Not [Robert] Plant, not Rod Stewart, nobody. He took being a frontman way beyond anything,” Simmons began, initially praising the former Van Halen frontman before taking a vicious turn.
“And then, I don’t know what happened to him… something,” Simmons continued. “And you get modern-day Dave. I prefer to remember Elvis Presley in his prime. Sneering lips, back in Memphis, you know, doing all that. I don’t want to think of bloated naked Elvis on the bathroom floor.”
Roth did not take kindly to Simmons’ comparison, and expressed his anger on Instagram by posting a black-and-white photo of a child wearing sunglasses, extending a middle finger. To insure there was no misinterpretation, he added the caption, “Roth to Simmons.”
Just to make sure his point got across, Roth issued that identical post again, and again, a total of 18 times.
Roth and Simmons have a long history, given that the KISS co-founder discovered Van Halen while they were playing in a Los Angeles club, signing them to his production company and producing the demo that landed them a record deal with Warner Bros.
Simmons shared his recollection of seeing Roth and Van Halen for the first time in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
“The lead singer, long hair down to his butt, looked like a wild horse, no shirt on top, doing splits and all that,” said Simmons. “He was the predominant visual representation of that band. Musically, clearly it was Edward… When the solo came up, you couldn’t believe your ears because all this music was symphonic, the melodies and the runs and the speed, all coming out of one guitar.”