July 9th, 2012
02:34 PM ET
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:
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