July 9th, 2012
02:34 PM ET

Gene Simmons: I've never been drunk

KISS frontman Gene Simmons is many things, including bassist, reality star, songwriter and philanthropist.

The patriarch of A&E’s "Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels" is also arguably one of the most iconic rock stars of his generation (and by that I mean if you were born in the '70s), and, unlike some other high-profile artists, he’s a pretty shrewd businessman to boot.

With a career spanning more than 40 years and multiple hit records to his credit, his secret for success is simple. “Don't allow that guy - the drug user and the alcoholic - to be in your band,” he said. “Get rid of that cancer early on because they will be like vampires.”

Simmons recently sat down with CNN and revealed that despite his larger-than-life stage persona, he’s never been drunk or high in his life.

“It's what I sold. Big, bad,” Simmons said. “Going up on stage and turning it on …and then when the show’s over and we finish blowing up Earth, you've got to get off the stage and become a father, a man, ethical and responsible.”

His aversion to drugs and alcohol was a personal decision he made out of respect for his mother, who survived a concentration camp during World War II. “Our entire family was killed off in the gas chambers of Nazi Germany. There is nothing that I would do ever to break my mother's heart.”

Simmons’ relationship with his father is different. The elder Simmons left the family when Gene was six, and growing up poor in Israel he “had the sense that nobody cared," he recalled in the emotional interview below:

Simmons broke down on camera describing the time he received a care package, not knowing who it was from. "[A]ll of a sudden I had the idea that somebody cared," the rocker said. It was that moment that would then drive the rest of his life.

“I don't wait for the calendar to figure out when I should live life," Simmons said. "My mother told me so. She said, 'Treat everyday as if it's the only day you'll ever have.' You can't go through life and leave things the way they are. We can all make a difference, and if I die today, I know I made a difference.”

A difference indeed. As Gene quips, more people today “know what KISS looks like than the faces on Mount Rushmore." See the rest of the iReport questions Gene answered here:

Up next will be our iReport interview with actress Jennifer Grey. Check out our iReport interview page to ask her a question and to see which other celebrities we're talking to next!

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Filed under: Celebrities • Music

soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Grape Drink

    No wonder their music is so lame and boring... because Gene is lame and boring...

    August 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cookie

    If we put this kind of thought that you all did in this blog into something worth while.. I think a lot of the worlds problems would be sloved by now. I guess now I will get off here and go watch " Owww my Balls III" since I have lost so many brain cells from this – might as well finish the job by watching a show that i can really learn something from.

    July 26, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sal Monella

    This man is such a fake, money grubbing loser. Oh, he sure is rich but what the hell has he contributed to society? He sure says all the right things but all he wants is all the money in the world.

    July 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BleenGloob

    Frankly Geneie, you are a bore. What did u give to your audience? Nothing. What did u take from your audience. Their money. What did u do for society? Nothing. Maybe u should give the money back to your fans, get a big ol' refrigerator box and go live under a bridge.

    July 22, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    Who cares? Simmons is a loser.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. wayne gust

    TIN MAN SUIT IN DRAG COULDN'T JAM WITH A MEDIOCRE BAND AT A MOOSE LODGE.
    BUT!!!! Remember HE REPRESENTS THE POWER STRUCTURE THAT HELD THE NUTS OF CHUCK BERRY TO JOHN FOGERTY. \
    AS GILLIAN WELCH WAILS " THATS THE WAY THE CORN BREAD CRUMBLES THATS THE WAY THE WHOLE THING ENDS, WISE UP GROW UP SNIVELERS.

    July 17, 2012 at 6:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Andy

    Gene Simmons calls Ace Frehley a vampire. Amazing. I could have sworn Gene sucked a fortune out of Ace Frehley's talent...

    July 16, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mickey

    Gene, you were NOT ethical with Shannon for decades. You DID hurt your mother by having children out of wedlock.

    You DID harm your children by living with their mother without marrying her. If they do what you did, you would have no right to complain.

    Shannon isn't off the hook either.

    After all is said and done – Shalom and may your world be better now that you've done right by the mother of your children.

    July 11, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmericanSam

      So judgmental are you.

      July 12, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • 2LiveJew

      Wow, if all of his behavior was while he was SOBER, can you imagine him DRUNK?!?

      July 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • RZ70

      Those are you opinions not facts. For some people, marriage is a trap. It's got nothing to do with whether or not you want to be in, the fact is that you are and can't get out. For some, just knowing that they could walk away at any point in time means they never will. For others, thye need the security of that piece of paper (and the process that goes along with officially tearing it up) to keep them from breaking up a family.

      July 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pliny

    We don't care gene.

    Nobody cares, for that matter.

    You are a nobody gene.

    You've been a nobody for decades.

    You will die (hopefully soon) as a nobody.

    For a brief time, many years ago...you were almost a somebody.

    But face it gene...your claim-to-fame is a big tongue and face-paint.
    That's not really much of a claim now, is it gene?

    July 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      Wow ... the words of an angry looser who's life reflects not one accomplishment.

      July 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Meh

      lol
      "looser" is what the girls he spent time with ended up as

      July 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • JMO

      And your claim to fame is?????

      July 12, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Pliny, do you consider yourself a "troll" or a "tool?" It's gotta be one or the other- maybe both?

      July 13, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      One anonymous nobody calling one of the world's most famous rockers a nobody. Classic.

      July 15, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Pratt

    Its hard to drink when you're banging 45,000 broads

    July 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lerxt

    @Tom Sawyer: Ditto.

    July 11, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  12. Felix Thomas Clauss

    I blieve in Gene.

    July 11, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  13. scd550

    Reblogged this on Being Me and commented:
    this is hard to believe

    July 11, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  14. Brenda

    I believe that he has never been high. He's really good at the image, but in reality he's just a big Jewish momma's boy. And there's nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

    July 10, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • xdougx

      Actually there's alot wrong with that. Btw KISS stinks... always has.

      July 11, 2012 at 9:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sherryrae40

    I don't know why people don't believe that Gene doesn't drink or do drugs.. He and Paul Stanley have booted anyone who got messed up with that stuff out of their band.. which is why Ace and Peter were booted long ago.

    July 10, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paulie

      Actually, Ace was not booted from the band. He quit KISS in '82 because he didn't like the direction the band was going. There's more than once source that writes how Gene and Paul BEGGED Ace to stay. Ace's departure actually cost the band a boat load of money in an unsettled contract with a record label.
      He reunited with the band (at their request) in the 90's and departed, again on his terms, in 2000 because he had a big problem with the fact that KISS would be opening for Aerosmith. I was there in 2004 when KISS opened for Aerosmith – big mistake. Ace was absolutely right – KISS is not an opening act for anyone. For Ace it may have been a question of ego or pride, but from the audience POV, I can tell you that once KISS left the stage, they took all of the energy and excitement with them and left Aerosmith with nothing. Oddly enough, that ticket didn't last for long.
      This defense isn't to say that Ace wasn't a problem or that he wasn't causing problems because of his addictions. It's just to set the record straight on why he left, both times he left. I do hope that Ace continues his sobriety; I truly feel that if it weren't for the drugs and drink, he could have catapulted his solo career above and beyond anything he had with KISS...he certainly had the potential.

      July 17, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paulie

      Actually, Ace was not booted from the band. He quit KISS in '82 because he didn't like the direction the band was going. There's more than once source that writes how Gene and Paul BEGGED Ace to stay. Ace's departure actually cost the band a boat load of money in an unsettled contract with a record label at that time.
      He reunited with the band (at their request) in the 90's and departed, again, on his terms, in 2000 because he had a big problem with the fact that KISS would be opening for Aerosmith. I was there in 2004 when KISS opened for Aerosmith – big mistake. Ace was absolutely right – KISS is not an opening act for anyone. For Ace it may have been a question of ego or pride, but from the audience POV, I can tell you that once KISS left the stage, they took all of the energy and excitement with them and left Aerosmith with nothing. Oddly enough, that ticket didn't last for long.
      This defense isn't to say that Ace wasn't a problem or that he wasn't causing problems because of his addictions. It's just to set the record straight on why he left, both times he left. I do hope that Ace continues his sobriety; I truly feel that if it weren't for the drugs and drink, he could have catapulted his solo career above and beyond anything he had with KISS...he certainly had the potential.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Lori

    I will take his word for it...

    July 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Tom Sawyer

    He's a Rush fan so he's ok in my books.

    July 10, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Ace

    No he just messed around on Shannon with Wh0res....much better.

    July 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Diana

      @ace what are you talking about? I never heard that. I always thought he's been very faithful to Shannon. I think the whole thing is an image and he's a nice,normal.faithful guy.

      July 10, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • lroy

      Where have you been, Spaceman. Did you miss last season? He may have been faithful (to a point) to Shannon but Gene himself has admitted to "bed down" thousands of woman before her.

      July 10, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Kizz

    I wanna rock n roll all night,
    and potty every day.

    July 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  20. CNN

    CNN SCREENS COMMENTS...YEA RIGHT.

    July 10, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  21. JellyBean

    Okay, I can buy "he's never been drunk or high in his life." Doesn't mean that he never drank or did drugs.

    July 10, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
  22. duh

    the guy is the very definition of arrogance... the only good thin about him is that his kids are humble and seem to be well behaved and normal- not like papa the pr!ck

    July 10, 2012 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
  23. LCD

    I don't have a hard time believing that he didn't do drugs or alcohol. And I think it's lovely that he didn't want to do these harmful things to himself because it would have hurt his mother. But wouldn't the fact that you've boinked a substantial portion of the planet's female population be a bit upsetting to your mother as well? Talk about a health risk.

    July 9, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Why, was she one of 'em? No? Then please stop.

      July 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paulie

      I agree...I would think the way he objectified women over the years is behavior that should have broken his mother's heart, as well. Ah, Gene...such a hypocrite.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Madge

    i was always attracted to Paul Stanley's tongue. LOLOL

    July 9, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Gene .. luv you but......

    drugs and alcohol cause memory lapse

    July 9, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      Big Richard's almost done with Frank Ocean. Madge and Marguerite can be next, but you should wash him off first. A fudge-packin' man is a manly man!

      July 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Cindy

    And you guys call yourselves KISS FANS ?? Shame on you .... when did you guys actually see Gene wasted ?? WHEN ?? Never.

    July 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paulie

      Thank you! I'm not a big Gene fan, but the man isn't lying about being clean. There are several sources that report that Gene tried one – ONE beer back in the 70's and that he was a big lightweight – couldn't even finish it, didn't like it and never drank again. Those people go on to say that Gene is a mamma's boy and that he doesn't have any friends. If not for his wife and kids, he'd be a loner.

      July 17, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Kathryn

    Sad that just because we look a certain way, oh damn we must of used drugs and drank. When he says he did not, I beleive him.
    But this is the way we are now....and just too sad....Been a Kiss fan from day one, and never in the 40 years did I ever read oh he was drunk or oh he was so wasted. Gez people give him a break...

    July 9, 2012 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Suzy

    Any time gene, call me.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  29. blondee47

    I missed asking Gene Simmons a question so I will do it here: As a Jewish Mother of 55 myself and a Canadian, how awful was it for you that your mother couldn't attend your wedding and why didn't you do more to get her there? Alternatively why did you not do it again for your mother? Also, one more personal question, did Shannon ever convert and are your kids considered Jewish? Not that this is an issue for me...

    July 9, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Bobcat

    Oooo he can use that tongue and lick up my man meat anytime of day. He can wrap it around my peanut butter covered balls and make me scream daddy anytime! Anytime, anywhere Gene..call me, k?

    July 9, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Amy

    As a long time kiss fan since i was 10 years. I am now 40.. Sorry Gene I just don't buy it. Why can't you just admit to it ?saw Kiss twice. Once when I was 19 and again on my 21st birthday.

    July 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  32. Snake Tongue

    And what's with that hair? Looks like straw or brillo pad

    July 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Snake Tongue

    He is such a tool and a man who re. Honestly, who is he trying to fool? He never did drugs. Yea..right and I'm a saint. His tongue alone must have licked up an 8 ball in a second.

    July 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Tanya

    I have a hard time believing that too. He spent a lot of time with Cher and she used to party pretty hard. He doesn't look like the "Just say no" type. Maybe he just forgot. Drugs make you do that.

    July 9, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  35. charlie crack

    Suuuuuuuuure, and I've never been rammed in the posterior by 3 sailors at once either!

    July 9, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |

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