Blood-spitting, fire-breathing rock-and-roll showman; notorious ladies' man; marketing genius and entertainment mogul: Simmons wears many hats, or more accurately, a lot of makeup. His résumé is quite eclectic for an Israeli-born fellow who once taught sixth grade in Spanish Harlem. In the 1970s, Simmons played bass, sang in a variety of outfits, and eventually hooked up with guitarist-singer Paul Stanley. Along with drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley, they formed KISS, one of the most theatrical, over-the-top bands ever, and Simmons was the driving force behind its success. Playing simple but catchy hard-rock anthems and sporting skintight spandex outfits, huge platform shoes, metal spikes and Kabuki-like black-and-white face paint, the group exploded onto the music scene (literally, as their concerts were filled with pyrotechnics). KISS mania ran rampant, and soon the marketplace was flooded with everything from KISS comic books to TV-movies (such as the infamous KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park
) to masks. Although the band changed its lineup numerous times and its popularity waxed and waned over the years, Simmons had a knack for remaining in the spotlight with a variety of projects, whether it was penning his autobiography, launching a magazine (named Tongue
, of course), overacting in a number of films (Wanted: Dead or Alive
), bragging about his sexual conquests (4,600 and counting) or hawking bizarre products (a KISS coffin that doubled as a beer cooler). Never one to ignore a trend, in the 2000s he tried his own reality series: the lackluster Gene Simmons' Rock School
, in which he taught kids how to rock out, and Gene Simmons Family Jewels
, a more successful, Osbournes
-like, behind-the-scenes look at his home life with longtime companion Shannon Tweed and their two children. In his spare time, Simmons enjoys studying foreign languages and speaks Hungarian, Hebrew, German and Japanese...and hopes to tackle Mandarin Chinese.Gene Simmons Fast Facts:
- Worked as an editorial assistant for Vogue and Glamour magazines in the early 1970s.
- Released self-titled debut album with KISS, featuring hits like "Strutter" and "Deuce," in 1974.
- Helped discover Van Halen and produced the band's 15-song demo; also briefly managed Liza Minnelli's recording career.
- He and entertainment-industry veteran Richard G. Abramson started a marketing firm; their most prominent client was the Indy Racing League.
- His on-stage KISS character is known as "The Demon."
- Has been instrumental in securing licensing for more than 2,800 KISS-related products.
- Appeared on Celebrity Apprentice in 2008, but was fired in the third episode.
- Claims to have never used cigarettes, drugs or alcohol.
- In 2010, joined with KISS member Paul Stanley to plot out a children's TV program with E1 Television.
- Gene Simmons Relationships:
- Flora Witz - Mother
- Cher - Ex-significant Other
- Diana Ross - Ex-significant Other
- Sophie Tweed-Simmons - Daughter
- Nick Tweed-Simmons - Son
- Shannon Tweed - Wife
- Yechiel Witz - Father
- Attended Sullivan County Community College, Loch Sheldrake, NY; Richmond College, Staten Island, NY (BA in Education)