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|Also Known As:||Gene Klein, Chaim Witz||Died:|
|Born:||August 25, 1949||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Israel||Profession:||musician, bass guitarist, singer, entertainment mogul, assistant to editor-in-chief of <i>Glamour</i> magazine, teacher, deli cashier|
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and Tweed had their first child, Nicholas. By 1992, Simmons decided that a flailing KISS needed his full attention in order to survive and the band's newest lineup released the gritty LP, Revenge (1992). KISS, which had lost ground in the 1980's era of flashy, technical musicianship, was now experiencing a revival as the grunge era of rock musicians, more likely to have grown up on KISS than on Bon Jovi, expressed its unrequited hero worship. That same year, Simmons and Tweed welcomed daughter Sophie. By 1995, an ill-fated attempt at a grunge sound made it clear to Simmons and Stanley that KISS was ready for a reunion tour with its original members. A cleaned up Frehley and Criss indeed returned, resulting in two reunion tours unfolded, complete with full on nostalgic makeup and costumes. The tours culminated with a less-than-stellar album, Psycho Circus (1998) and a deal with New Line Cinema to produce and appear in a feature film, "Detroit Rock City" (2000). The film revolved around four teens who take a road trip to see the band perform, but it ultimately failed to perform well at the box office, abruptly disappearing from theaters.Deep into the second coming of KISS, the new millennium saw...
and Tweed had their first child, Nicholas. By 1992, Simmons decided that a flailing KISS needed his full attention in order to survive and the band's newest lineup released the gritty LP, Revenge (1992). KISS, which had lost ground in the 1980's era of flashy, technical musicianship, was now experiencing a revival as the grunge era of rock musicians, more likely to have grown up on KISS than on Bon Jovi, expressed its unrequited hero worship. That same year, Simmons and Tweed welcomed daughter Sophie. By 1995, an ill-fated attempt at a grunge sound made it clear to Simmons and Stanley that KISS was ready for a reunion tour with its original members. A cleaned up Frehley and Criss indeed returned, resulting in two reunion tours unfolded, complete with full on nostalgic makeup and costumes. The tours culminated with a less-than-stellar album, Psycho Circus (1998) and a deal with New Line Cinema to produce and appear in a feature film, "Detroit Rock City" (2000). The film revolved around four teens who take a road trip to see the band perform, but it ultimately failed to perform well at the box office, abruptly disappearing from theaters.
Deep into the second coming of KISS, the new millennium saw Simmons heavily active in the KISS business once again, resuming the band's old habit of branding which had begun in the Destroyer peak era. The band's renewed audience also refueled Simmons' interest in movie acting. He appeared in VH1's small screen rock drama, "At Any Cost" (2000) and had an uncredited role in the Christine Lahti/Albert Brooks big screen collaboration, "My First Mister" (2001), followed by the stylized comedy, "Wish You Were Dead" (2002) and a funny cameo as a pastor in "The New Guy" (2002). That year, Frehley was again gone from KISS and Criss soon after that, but that did not keep the band from touring with new face-painted members for what would evolve into an ongoing "farewell" jaunt. No longer interested in mere shirts and posters, Simmons himself would take the reigns of the marketing juggernaut, spearheading everything from KISS coffins to condoms â¿¿ affirming his persona as a unique rock-n-roll Walt Disney.
By this point, Simmons was much more adept at balancing his lofty ambitions as KISS settled into a less grueling touring schedule. In 2003, Simmons was a felt presence on the small screen, creating and producing the animated series "My Dad the Rock Star" (2003) and lending a voice to Fox's "King of the Hill" (1997-2010). He used his intimidating presence to good effect as murderous crime lord Donald Mann on a three-episode arc of the rescue drama, "Third Watch" (NBC, 1999-2005). In June 2005, he lent his voice to another of Fox's animated comedies, the popular "Family Guy" (1999- ).
In 2006, however, Simmons himself was the focus of attention, thanks to the public's fixation with reality television â¿¿ a genre effectively showcasing oversized personas and their bizarre lives. Simmons hoped across the pond to host a Channel Four reality series, "Gene Simmons Rock School" (2005-06), in which the veteran rocker took a dozen grade school students with no knowledge of rock music and attempted to turn them into budding rock gods. With the surprise success of "The Osbournes" (MTV, 2002-05), Simmons' own kids, along with life partner, Tweed, were ready for the small screen treatment. Whereas the Osbourne family were a dysfunctional and sometimes fast-living bunch, the Simmons clan were the opposite, as featured weekly on the reality show, "Gene Simmons: Family Jewels" (A&E, 2006- ). For such a famous womanizer, the series exposed Simmons' dirtiest secret to date: that his was, in fact, a surprisingly domestic family that eschewed drugs and alcohol and extolled the values of straight 'A's and discipline. At heart, just a hard rocking mama's boy who had lived his American dream, Simmons could count on the fact that, at least onstage, he could satisfy the fans' blood lust for "The Demon."
Always one to recognize a good thing when he saw it, Simmons dove into the realm of reality television headfirst. Despite a strong performance as a team leader, he was the third contestant fired by Donald Trump on a celebrity installment of "The Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ) in 2008. The occasional acting gig also remained a tried and true visibility enhancer for Simmons, who took on supporting roles in the Mike Judge workplace comedy "Extract" (2009), the family film "Expecting Mary" (2010) and in a 2011 episode of the mystery-romance series "Castle" (ABC, 2009- ). And although KISS released Sonic Boom in 2009 â¿¿ their first studio album in more than a decade â¿¿ the focus of Simmonsâ¿¿ personal media attention remained on "Family Jewels." For its 2011 season, he realized a long-held dream when he traveled to his homeland of Israel, then granted his long-suffering girlfriend her most fervent wish when he finally married Tweed on the showâ¿¿s penultimate episode later that year.ecame its most outrageous showman, flicking his unusually long tongue and even learning to spit fire under the tutelage of a magician. KISS hit the road consistently, but it wasn't until after three unsuccessful studio albums, that it hit the jackpot with the LP Alive! (1975), a live showcase for their high-energy stage show and one which paved the way for the biggest success of the band's original lineup, Destroyer (1976). While Alive! made the band's anthem, "Rock and Roll All Nite" famous, Destroyer heralded "Detroit Rock City" and offered up a softer side of KISS with drummer Peter Criss' tender ballad, "Beth." It also gave Simmons his own signature anthem, "God of Thunder," which allowed him a live bass intro complete with stage blood cascading down from The Demon's mouth.
With KISS' instant success came some unique opportunities. The group had its first taste of Hollywood as the star of its own television movie, "KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park" (NBC, 1978), a mix of rock-n-roll, after-hours frights and superhero powers. They band perpetuated their own myth by refusing to be photographed without their makeup â¿¿ a first for a rock act. The individual members were always photographed w/ scarves across their face, even when running out to the grocery store. Success also allowed the band members to indulge in their offstage passions. For Simmons, who famously eschewed drugs and alcohol, that had always meant women. During the late 1970s, Simmons would be linked to singer and labelmate Diana Ross, followed by a brief relationship with Cher, both of which appeared on tracks from his self-titled debut solo album, Gene Simmons (1978). The band started to unravel, however, when Criss left and later Frehley left, consumed by substance dependencies.
At the dawn of the 1980s, Simmons became the first KISS partner to vacate his New York roots for Los Angeles. By 1983, KISS was permanently based out of California and, featuring a solid new lineup, retired its makeup and platform heels to release its first paint-less album Lick it Up (1983). With KISS' popularity somewhat on the wane and Simmons more and more a man without a fanged persona, he decided to indulge his taste for showmanship by jumping into the acting game, quickly landing the well-received role of Tom Selleck's evil nemesis in the feature film "Runaway" (1984). This turn was followed by a stint as a drug dealer on the then popular crime drama, "Miami Vice" (NBC, 1984-1989). Simmons was also now monogamous and living with Playboy Playmate of the Year and former Hugh Hefner girlfriend, Shannon Tweed, an equally strong-willed companion capable of handling Gene's bluster and taste for the wild life.
A quartet of feature films, "Never Too Young to Die" (1986), "Trick or Treat" (1987), "Wanted Dead or Alive" (1987) and "Red Surf" (1988) began to distract Simmons from his role in KISS, but his role as a family man intensified with clarity. In 1989, Simmons
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