Friday, November 27, 2009

KISS Demon Gene Simmons Greets Superfans

Scottsdale Arts Examiner - Dolores Tropiano

Gene Simmons is giving KISS fans something he always wanted as a teen – face time with their favorite rock star.

The bassist, vocalist and self proclaimed “Demon” will meet and greet fans who purchase his new axe bass guitar. The event takes place from 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 30, at the ROCK STAR gallery in the Kierland Commons, Greenway Parkway and Scottsdale Road. A Gene Simmons look-alike contest will be held from 4-6 p.m. that same Monday and is open to the public.
“Growing up I was never able to really connect with the Beatles in a personal way,” said Simmons, from Saskatoon, Canada where he was performing. “If I liked one of their instruments, I just had to go off and buy it in a store. It was very impersonal. There was this gulf between the fan and the band. I wanted to make it personal for my fans. If you are buying something from me, I owe it to you to talk to you, take a picture and maybe kvetch a little.”
But the Demon and marketing genius may have some materialistic motives for the event that takes place on the eve of his concert at the Arena cq in Glendale.
“It is clear that these are super fans because each bass cost $5,000,” Simmons said. “Besides being a collectible, the bass itself is on the highest level and it is autographed.”
The exclusive black and silver axe shaped guitar is a limited edition Gene Simmons Axe Bass autographed and hand numbered by the performer. The guitar comes with a custom painted, leather case, hand embellished with the likeness of the superstar’s stage persona – the Demon.
KISS is currently on a 48-city tour that includes stops throughout Canada and the United States to promote the band’s latest CD, “Sonic Boom.” It sounds like a grueling workout, but the 60-year-old hard rocker claims he does not need any preconcert workouts for his blood-spitting, fire-breathing act.
“I am on stage with 8-inch platforms (shoes), guitars, leather and armor. It’s like being in the Marines and doing two hours of training,” Simmons said.
After 35 years, the singer still digs his music gig.
“It doesn’t suck,” is how he described touring.
Simmons co-founded his legendary band in the early '70s. KISS has broken box office records set by the Beatles and Elvis Presley and is still going strong after several decades.
Simmons was born, Chaim Witz, in Israel to a German Nazi concentration camp survivor. He came to the United States when he was 8. Simmons attended college in New York and graduated with an education degree although he was in rock bands ever since he was a teen.

The heavy metal star is also a major merchandising whiz and his empire has grown to include reality TV show “Family Jewels,” cartoons, comic books, best selling books, clothing and more. He has been in numerous films including “Extract,” which was released this year and “The Christmas Story” which is expected in theaters in December.
“All I ever wanted to do was fit in. I couldn’t speak a word of English. Everyone would make fun of me and call me stupid,” he said. “My revenge was getting them all to work for me. Education is powerful. Once you know that, you can rule the world. Without an education, you get to ask the next person in line if they want fries with their order. Power comes from brains not brawn.”
Simmons doesn’t do many private meetings so the event at the ROCK STAR gallery is something special. The gallery sells music collectibles and celebrity fine art. When asked what was the most unusual thing a fan ever said to him during similar events, the man who has allegedly bedded many women during his illustrious career quickly responded.
“Hi dad.”

What: Private party for anyone purchasing the Gene Simmons Axe Bass. A Gene Simmons look-alike contest takes place before the star arrives and is open to the public.
When: Meet and greet from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 30. Pre-party and contest from 4-6 p.m. Nov. 30.
Where: ROCK STAR gallery, Kierland Commons, Greenway Parkway and Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale.
Info: 480-275-4501 or