Gene Simmons Biography

Gene Simmons is a musician, singer and actor. He is famous as one of the co-founders of the rock band Kiss. This biography of Gene Simmons provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Gene Simmons
Quick Facts

Birthday: August 25, 1949

Nationality: American, Israeli

Famous: Quotes By Gene Simmons Jewish Singers

Age: 70 Years, 70 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Virgo

Also Known As: The Demon, Dr. Love, God of Thunder Reginald Van Helsing, Chaim Witz

Born Country: Israel

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Shannon Tweed (m. 2011)

father: Feri Witz

mother: Flóra Klein

children: Nick Simmons, Sophie Simmons

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Gene Simmons, the lead singer and co-founder of the hard rock band Kiss was born as Chaim Witz in Israel and later migrated to the U.S. He had an inherent interest in music and decided to become a rock star after watching a scintillating performance by the legendary Beatles. His mother gifted him his first guitar and he started practicing hard to achieve his goal. He has led quite an inspiring life; rising from the poverty and hardships he faced as a boy to become a successful musician, actor and entrepreneur. As a teenager he played in a garage band called Lynx and then went on to play for several other bands, but never found the success he craved for. Deciding to form his own band, he collaborated with Paul Stanley to form the rock band Wicked Lester. But again he met with disappointment as the only album they recorded was never released, and the group was disbanded. Not the ones to be disheartened, the duo recruited drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley and formed a band that would later be known as Kiss. The band was characterized by the members’ flamboyant make-up and costumes as they portrayed comic book style characters on stage; Simmons’s persona was ‘The Demon’. The band became one of the best known bands in the 1970’s.

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Gene Simmons
Childhood & Early Life
  • Chaim Witz was born to Flora Klein, a Hungarian Jew and Holocaust survivor, and Feri Witz, a carpenter, in Israel.
  • After the breakup of his parents’ marriage, he was raised by his mother. He grew up in poverty, struggling for his day-to-day existence.
  • His mother took him to the U.S. in 1958. There he changed his name to Gene Klein. As a kid he loved to read comic books, and their influence could be seen in his later works.
  • He was admitted to Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, a Jewish educational institution where he studied for a year before attending public school in Jackson Heights.
  • As a middle school student he created a band called Lynx with his friends to attract the girls. The band won a school competition.
  • He wanted to plunge head-on into a musical career, but his mother wanted him to complete his education first. He went to Sullivan County Community College, and later to Richmond College, New York, and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1970.
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Career
  • In 1970, he met guitarist Paul Stanley who shared his dreams of forming a band. Together, the men formed the band Wicked Lester in the early 1970’s. They were successful in signing a contact with Epic records, but did not release any album and left the band in 1972.
  • The duo collaborated with drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley, and formed a new hard rock band, Kiss. The band adopted a comic book style theme with each member being assigned a particular character; Simmons was ‘The Demon’. They wore wild makeup and outfits on stage.
  • Kiss released its debut album, the self-titled, ‘Kiss’ in 1974, which went Gold in the U.S. They quickly followed it up with ‘Hotter than Hell’ the same year and ‘Dressed to Kill’ in 1975.
  • Their album ‘Destroyer’ released in 1976 became platinum certified. It was followed by another platinum album, ‘Rock and Roll Over’ the same year.
  • The band starred in a 1978 television film, ‘Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park’, in which the band members use their superpowers to defeat an evil villain.
  • In 1978, Simmons released his self-titled solo album in which he played electric and acoustic guitars. The album also featured guest appearances by other well-known musicians.
  • The band’s 1980 studio album, ‘Unmasked’ was the last album which featured the original members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The members later appeared together after many years in a reunion.
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  • Kiss released several albums during the 1980’s, many of which became gold certified. These include: ‘Creatures of the Night’ (1982), ‘Lick It Up’ (1983), ‘Asylum’ (1985), and ‘Hot in the Shade’ (1989).
  • During this period, Simmons began exploring an acting career, appearing in a number of movies like ‘Runaway’ (1984), ‘Trick or Treat’ (1986), ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive’ (1987) and ‘Red Surf’ (1989).
  • In the 1990s, Kiss faced a lot of challenges like waning popularity, unrest among the members, and the death of a former member. In the decade they released only a few albums: ‘Revenge’ (1992), ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’ (1997), and ‘Psycho Circus’ (1998).
  • In 1999, Simmons co-produced the comedy movie ‘Detroit Rock City’ which also featured his former band mates Peter Criss, Ace Frehley, and Paul Stanley.
  • Over the next few years, Simmons acted in a number of lesser known movies like ‘The New Guy’ (2002), ‘Extract’ (2009), and ‘Expecting Mary’ (2010).
  • Simmons starred with his wife and two children in a reality television show called ‘Gene Simmons Family Jewels’ that premiered on A&E channel in 2006. The show ran for seven seasons till 2012.
  • In 2009, the Kiss band released its first album in 11 years, titled ‘Sonic Boom’ which received positive reviews from music critics. The band now featured a new lead guitarist, Tommy Thayer.
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  • Kiss’s most recent album ‘Monster’ was released in 2012. The album was meant to be a sequel to the 2009 ‘Sonic Boom’ and it had a sound slightly heavier than its predecessor’s.
  • Over the past 40 years, Simmons has also made several television appearances, often in a cameo as himself.
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Major Works
  • Simmons’s biggest career achievement is the co-founding of the band Kiss in the early 1970’s. It is a commendable fact that the band which reached its peak during the 1970’s has survived for almost four decades and is still giving performances.
  • His 1978 solo album, the self-titled ‘Gene Simmons’ was a big hit ; it was accredited Gold in Canada and Platinum in the U.S. The album featured guest appearances by Joe Perry, Bob Seger, Helen Reddy and Cher.
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Awards & Achievements
  • Kiss won the People’s Choice Award in the category Favourite New Song for their song ‘Beth’ in 1977.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • He was romantically linked with Cher and Diana Ross in the past.
  • He was in a relationship with actress Shannon Tweed for 28 years before marrying her in 2011. The couple has two children.
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Trivia
  • He is fluent in Turkish, Hungarian, Hebrew and Spanish.
  • He claims to have slept with 4600 women.
  • He launched a magazine, ‘Gene Simmons' Tongue’ in 2002 which was discontinued after only five issues.
  • He also appears in some videogames as playable character.
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See the events in life of Gene Simmons in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Gene Simmons Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/gene-simmons-5231.php
Last Updated
- September 28, 2017

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