Gene Klein, known professionally as Gene Simmons, is an Israeli-American musician, singer, and songwriter. Also known by his stage persona The Demon, he is the bassist and co-lead singer of Kiss, the rock band he co-founded with lead singer and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley in the early 1970s.
Gene Simmons was born Chaim Witz on August 25th, 1949 in Haifa, Israel. He was born to Florence Klein and Ferenc Yehiel Witz, a carpenter. His mother and her brother, Gene's uncle Larry Klein, were the only members of their family to survive internment in a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocause. Gene left Israel with his mother at the age of 8 and moved to Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City. Once in America, Chaim Witz adopted the more Americanized name of Eugene Klein. He also became very interested in music after watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. With his newfound interest in music, his mother brought him a secondhand guitar. Gene became very good with the guitar but decided to switch over to bass because he felt it would be easier to get in a band. While in high school, Eugene started his first band, Lynx which was later renamed Missing Links. After his time with the Missing Links, Simmons joined The Long Island sounds.
Going under the name of Gene Simmons he met Stanley Eisen (A.K.A Paul Stanley). The two decided to collaborate and formed the band "Wicked Lester". Their efforts paid off quickly because just after seven shows they signed a deal with Epic Records. They recorded an album but it was not supported by Epic and fell by the wayside. It was never released. After this failure, Simmons and Paul set out to create what they called "The band that would rule the world". They invited drummer Peter Criss to join them after seeing his advertisement in Rolling Stone magazine. They would soon be joined by guitarist Paul Frehley (aka Ace Frehley). The stage was now set for "Kiss" to take on the world. After five months of rehearsal they played their first show. Before the show they decided to experiment with make-up. Feeling that the make-up made them look too feminine they instead opted to use make-up as a form of art. They came up with the idea to use the make-up to express who they are as a person. "Kiss" quickly gathered a fan base. They released their self-titled debut album in February 1974. Simmons was the driving force behind their extensive merchandise. But even with a fan base their first three albums were met with little or no critical success. One thing that was well known is that Kiss put on a great live show. It was decided to record Kiss live in concert. Once the live CD was released, the band's reputation grew because their live album hit quadruple platinum.
After five extremely successful years, the band members began to feel imprisoned by each other. It was during this time that they went separate ways to record their solo albums. When the band finally came back they were met with backlash. Many fans grew tired of Kiss' make-up and Gene's theatrics of spitting blood on stage. In 1983, Kiss decided to perform without the make-up. This actually allowed their popularity to grow even more. It was during the 80s that Gene felt like he wanted to take on more of the world. He began to accept acting jobs from Hollywood in 84 and started his own record label (Simmons Recording). Kiss would release their album Revenge album in 1992. The album would mark a much darker and rough tone that most of their albums have had. The album was a hit which led to Kiss being back in the lime light. Kiss has played on and off again since 1992 even making an appearance in 1995 on MTV's Unplugged. The band hosted fan conventions in 1995. In 1996-1997, Kiss embarked on a highly successful Alive Worldwide Reunion tour. The band released another album, Psycho Circus, in 1998. The original line up has once again dissolved since then, with Tommy Thayer replacing lead guitarist Ace Frehley and Eric Singer replacing Peter criss on the drums.
In 1999 Simmons co-produced the film "Detroit Rock City" which is the ultimate love letter to Kiss. Simmons conquered the world of music with Kiss but in addition to that he also has as of late entered the reality television business with his shows Rock School and Gene Simmons family Jewels.
Simmons formerly had live-in relationships with Cher and Diana Ross. He married his long time partner, former Playboy playmate Shannon Tweed, in 2011, after they had been dating for 28 years. Together they have two kids (a son, Nick, b. 1989 and daughter Sophie, b. 1992) and reside in Beverly Hills, California.
Simmons is an avid science fiction and comic book fan. He has published several science fiction fanzines and has contributed to other fanzines.
Simmons was a supporter of George W. Bush's foreign policy and vocally supported the 2003 invasion of iraq. In 2010, Simmons said he regretted voting for Barack Obama, criticizing his health care reforms of 2009. In 2012, he endorsed Mitt Romney for president.
As far as philanthropy, Simmons advocates for ChildFund International. He traveled to Zambia to visit his sponsored children, of whom he has more than 1400. He and his family received the MEND Humanitarian Award for their philanthropic efforts and work for the charity Mending Kids International. Simmons helped found The Children Matter, an initiative that fights to get children around the world access to health care.
Gene Simmons is an American rock and roll legend who has a net worth of $400 million. He is known for being a co-founder of the band Kiss which was extremely successful in the late 1970s into the 1990s and has sold over 100 million records worldwide as of this writing.