Gene Simmons reveals that “I’m sad that I wasn’t more hard on Ace Frehley and Peter Criss”

Author Benedetta Baldin - 17.6.2024

KISS bassist and singer Gene Simmons was asked in a recent interview with Backstage Pass if there are any events from the previous 50 years that he would handle differently if he could go back in time.

Well, I’m sad in retrospect — you know, hindsight’s 20/20 — I’m sad that I wasn’t more hard on Ace [Frehley] and Peter [Criss], the two original guys who played guitar and drums in the band. I’d never been high or drunk and never smoked cigarettes, so I’ve always been an outcast in that way. The rest of the world seemed to be drug-fueled. Ace and Peter… have as much credit for the beginning of the band as Paul [Stanley, KISS guitarist/vocalist] and I do. There’s no question it was that chemistry. And they both had unique voices, unique personalities and all that. And they should have been here with us 50 or 55 years later and enjoying the fruits of their labor. But sadly, they’re not. And it’s their own doing. They were in and out of the band three different times. They were let go three different times because of the same old thing. It’s not even unique. Go to almost every band [and] you’ll find people ingesting stuff more than the bum on the street corner, except they’re richer and they can afford to ingest more. It’s sad.

But how was Simmons able to avoid this lifestyle?

Well, the word ‘no’ is in the dictionary. Just by observation, I’ve never seen anybody drunk be witty or intelligent. Have you? And people who are high sound like aliens. And people who smoke stink like ashtrays. Look, I can understand if smoking or drinking or getting high would make you smarter, richer, made your shmeckel bigger, made you more attractive — all those things that we all wish we had. ‘I wish this. I wish that.’ But nothing happens, really. In fact, you’ll probably throw up on the shoes your girlfriend just bought. You won’t be witty. The next day your head will hurt, and if you drink enough, your shmeckel is not gonna work. So I don’t get it. Chances are pretty good you’re gonna get into a fight. I remember when I was 13, 14, I used to go to these teenage parties where 16-year-olds would gather because I was always bigger, so they’d invite me. They’d think I was older. And like a vulture on the side, I’d just wait for the guys to get drunk and then just swoop in and take any girl I wanted.