Monday, September 8, 2008

Gene Simmons - KISS And Make Up

I never was a KISS fan, and the name of Gene Simmons has never given me a particularly warm and fuzzy feeling. Still; this book has given me a new-found respect for the man.

Gene Simmons is very upfront about his considering music to only be a vehicle for Simmons' personal business vision, which reaches way beyond the realms of a simple rock band. For Simmons it was never about the music; he is very open about him getting involved in the music industry to make money and get laid, not necessarily in that order. Moreover, he is very honest about having tried to jump onto different bandwagons in order to capitalize on emerging music trends - examples including the disco flirt with "I Was Made For Lovin' You", the boarding of the hair metal bandwagon with "Crazy Nights" and the more modern metal approach of "Psycho Circus". In some cases it was wildly successful, and sometimes it tanked. In a refreshing turn of events, Simmons not only admits to bandwagonjumping in order to further his business, he also takes blame for decisions which went wrong. Quite the rare occurrence in the world of rock star biographies.

Something I find to be quite interesting is that Gene Simmons describes himself as a pragmatist. This is interesting because in my experience, those who label themselves as pragmatists are frequently labeled cynics by others. I have never in my life - neither in academia nor in other avenues of life - found an example of someone being in complete agreement with their surroundings on labeling themselves as pragmatist. Just an observation.

Another reason to give Gene Simmons his due is that he actually bothered to take an education while pursuing his rock star dreams, and get a load of this ladies and gentlemen: in the very beginning of his music career he always held down regular jobs - plural. As did Paul Stanley. He never was a drug dealer or mooched off of others, which makes him one of the most honorable rock stars around. Mad props.

Naturally, the subject of guitarist Ace Frehley, Peter Criss and their drug habits and subsequent dismissals comes up in this book. There is no question that both these gentlemen were abusing drugs to the degree that they could not perform their duties. There are plenty of other sources citing that this and that musician really had to step into the studio and do a guitar solo or a drum part because Frehley or Criss would be lying on the studio floor, stones out of their minds.

KISS and Make Up is a surprisingly good book from a very intelligent man. No doubt does Simmons have the wherewithal to spin the facts in such a way as to make himself look better than others might remember in certain situations, but all in all this is even better than "Crazy From The Heat". Strongly recommended.

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