By Andy Greene
After years of petitions, angry letters and actual protests outside the museum in Cleveland, Kiss are finally entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next year. The instant the news hit, many in the Kiss Army wondered whether Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley would perform with estranged bandmates Ace Frehley and Peter Criss on the big night.
We spoke to a surprisingly gracious Gene Simmons about the big honor, and the possibility of him burying the hatchet with Peter and Ace.
Tell me your first reaction to the big news.
Pride. For me, it's another tug of the shirt sleeve to remind me that the American dream is alive and well. I'm living proof of it. I came here as an immigrant, a legal one — that's a distinction — and getting the Hollywood Walk of Fame and getting the keys to the cities of God knows how many cities and the wax museums and the thousands of licensed products we have and on and on... Still, no matter how much much noise we make about how only the fans matter, and it's true they are the ones that put us here and without them we are nothing, there is something in the back of our collective consciousnesses that makes us want to be recognized by our peers.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame started out as a wonderful idea and ideal, and it's a pride and privilege. Now, we've had ten different lineups. It's important to list that the honor is not just ours. It's Gene, Paul, Ace, Peter, Eric Carr, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer, Vinnie Vincent, Tommy Thayer. . .There's been a lot of guys, and we continue to tour and fill up stadiums and it is a testament to the idea of Kiss.
A long time ago, four knuckleheads off the streets of New York decided to put together the band they never saw onstage. We were ballsy enough to throw down our own gauntlet. "You wanted the best? You got the best! The hottest band in the world. Kiss." You're God damn right.
Did you start to think you'd never be inducted?
Yeah. I think its political. As soon as the fans had their say, I'm told, we slaughtered everybody else. I think it's a crime that Deep Purple is not in and Patti Smith is. What the f**k? There are disco artists and all kind of credible and important kinds of music that have nothing to do with rock & roll. But, hey, it's not my thing. I think the best thing they did was to open it up to the fans. There is an American ideal: "By the people, for the people, of the people." Hey, that's a good idea.
You're definitely coming to the ceremony, right?
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. We need to stand up there proudly for the fans.