Kiss and Make-Upby Gene Simmons
You wanted the truth, you got the truth—the hottest book in the world!
Fueled by an explosive mix of makeup, costumes, and attitude, KISS burst onto the music scene thirty years ago and has become a rock institution. The band has sold more than eighty million records, has broken every concert attendance record set by Elvis Presley and the Beatles,/b>… See more details below
You wanted the truth, you got the truth—the hottest book in the world!
Fueled by an explosive mix of makeup, costumes, and attitude, KISS burst onto the music scene thirty years ago and has become a rock institution. The band has sold more than eighty million records, has broken every concert attendance record set by Elvis Presley and the Beatles, stands behind the Beatles alone in number of gold records from any group in history, and has spawned more than 2,500 licenses.
There would have been no KISS without Gene Simmons, the outrageous star whose superlong tongue, legendary sexual exploits, and demonic makeup have made him a rock icon. KISS and Make-Up is the wild, shocking, unbelievable story, from the man himself, about how an immigrant boy from Israel studied to be a rabbi, was saved by rock and roll, and became one of the most notorious rock stars the world has ever seen.
Before Gene Simmons there was Chaim Witz, a boy from Haifa, Israel, who had no inkling of the life that lay ahead of him. In vivid detail Gene recounts his childhood growing up in Haifa under the watchful eye of his beloved, strong-willed mother, a concentration camp survivor; his adolescent years attending a Jewish theological center for rabbinical studies in Brooklyn; his love of all things American, including comic books, superheroes, and cowboys; and his early fascination with girls and sex, which prompted him to start a rock band in school after he saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show.
KISS and Make-Up is not just the classic story of achieving the American dream through the eyes of an immigrant boy making good, but a juicy, rollicking rock and roll read that takes you along for the ride of your life with KISS, from the 1970s, when they were the biggest band in the world, through the ’80s, when they took off their world-famous war paint, and into the ’90s, when they came back bigger and badder than ever to become the number one touring band in the world.
In his own irreverent, unapologetic voice, Gene talks about the girls (4,600 of them and counting); his tight bond with KISS cofounder Paul Stanley; the struggles he and Paul had with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss and their departures from the group; the new band members and Eric Carr’s untimely death; the enormous love and affection he has for the people who put him there in the first place—the KISS Army and the ever-loyal KISS fans around the world; his love life, including stories about his relationships with Cher and Diana Ross and with Shannon Tweed, Playmate of the Year, mother of his son and daughter, and his companion of eighteen years; and much more.
Full of dozens of photographs, many never-before-seen pictures from Gene’s private collection, KISS and Make-Up is a surprising, intimate look at the man behind the mask. For the first time Gene reveals all the facets of his complex personality—son, rock star, actor, record producer, businessman, ladies’ man, devoted father, and now author.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt
Someday soon, just after the final chords of "Rock and Roll All Nite" ring out on the Shea Stadium stage, I will pick up my bass and exit stage right. After twenty-nine glorious and tumultuous years, years filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows, America will have seen the last of KISS onstage. America was our home. These were our people. And playing the final show will be bittersweet, to say the least.
Thirty years before, there was no KISS. There was only Gene Simmons, an aspiring rock musician in New York City. Ten years before that, there was no Gene Simmons -- only Gene Klein, a Jewish kid who lived in Queens with his single mother. And ten years before that, there wasn't even a Gene Klein -- only Chaim Witz, a poor boy growing up in Haifa, Israel. All those people, of course, were me, and I was all those people. I was born in Israel, saw the world change around me when I came to America with my mother, and then began to change myself, first my name, then my face. When I picked up a bass, it was a kind of transformation. When I put on face paint, it was a kind of transformation. And when I took the stage, it was the most profound transformation of them all. In the process, I managed to help steer KISS to the pinnacle of rock and roll: we would eventually stand right behind the Beatles in the number of gold record awards by any group in history.
In my life story, I am the main character. But countless supporting characters have helped to define my life. First, there's the woman who gave me life, my mother, who endured unspeakable horrors in the concentration camps of the Nazis and who used reserves of strength I can only imagine to survive and even thrive. Then there are my bandmates, my second family -- Paul Stanley is like the brother I never had, and Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Eric Carr, Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick, and others helped me to create and sustain KISS (and in some cases, did their best to undo what Paul and I had created and sustained). And last but not least -- last and probably most -- there is lovely, incomparable Shannon Tweed, and the two children of whom we are the proudest parents imaginable, Nicholas and Sophie.
When I sat down to write my life story, I thought about it in terms of the books I had read. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my story is a story about power and the pursuit of it. I have always read everything I could get my hands on, especially books that taught me new things: religion, philosophy, history, the social sciences, and so forth. There are thousands of books, from African Genesis to World Lit by Fire, that recount man's endless search for power. Ultimately, all conflict seems to center on it, on who has it and who wants it. I instinctively realized very early on that power was what I really wanted. Fame and riches are fine, but one can have both and still have no power. Power is something I craved from the time I first set foot in America. I was made fun of because I couldn't speak English, or because I was Jewish, but it really came down to not having power.
Someone, perhaps Machiavelli, once said that it's better to be feared than loved. I understand that. Love is evasive. Love has its needs. You have to be giving. You have to be concerned with someone else's happiness. Power is a clearer idea, a cleaner concept. I want to walk into a restaurant and be waited on. I want to have women want me, although not necessarily because I want them. Women understand this notion very well. A woman wants to make herself as attractive as she can, with makeup, clothing, and perfume, because she wants every man to want her, although she may not be interested in any of them. I realize that I'm painting with broad strokes here, but I stand by what I'm saying.
I suppose one of the reasons I wanted power was so I wouldn't get picked on. When I first came to America, I felt like a stranger in a strange land. The Robert Heinlein book spoke to me as no other book ever had. It was my story. I was singled out because I was different, because I didn't speak English well, because I was alone. So I figured that I didn't need anyone, didn't want anyone, and had only myself to depend on. If I didn't do the work and go and get it myself, it would certainly never be handed to me.
The story of KISS, of Gene Simmons, is a story of ambition and good fortune, of an immigrant boy's impossible dream realized. But it's also a story of the world's biggest rock band, which means that there's plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I can't take credit for any of the drugs -- I'm straight, never been drunk, not a single time in my life. But the sex? For much of my adult life, I had no girlfriends, although I had plenty of girls. More than plenty. At some point, I began to keep Polaroid snapshots of my liaisons to remember them by. In a certain way, I loved every one of them. But when it was over, it was over. No fuss, no muss. No agony. To date, I have had about 4,600 liaisons. And I have to say that they were all wonderful, that they all enhanced my life in so many ways. Food tasted better. I whistled and hummed. I was alive.
Somehow, through all the craziness with women, despite the sheer numbers, I managed to become a dedicated father. If this seems strange to you, think of how it seems to me. My father left my mother and me when I was still young, and I grew up convinced that I would never have children, in part because I remembered the pain of abandonment, in part because I lived in terror of repeating my father's mistakes. Then I met a girl named Shannon Tweed. The next thing I knew, I was holding my son in the hospital, unwilling to give him up to the doctors. How do I reconcile the cocksman with the family man? The same way I reconcile the shy immigrant boy with the leather-and-studs Demon who climbed onstage to breathe fire. Every personality has contradictions, and a large personality has large contradictions.
I have lived my life for myself. I'm not afraid to admit that. But I have also lived my life for the fans: for the faithful soldiers in the KISS Army, those who stood by us through thick and thin, through changing fashion, those who braved bad traffic and bad weather to come out and let us entertain them. When I first sat down to write this book, I was torn by whether I should tell the truth about their band: about the internal rifts and feuds, the personality conflicts and personality disorders. I was torn because I feared that the truth might ruin people's perception of their heroes. And whatever else KISS was, it was about heroes, about magic, about believing in it and delivering the goods. You, the fans, have always deserved the best from us. It's one of the reasons we introduced ourselves at every show with "You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world, KISS." In sickness and in health, whether we felt like it or not, we believed we had an obligation to get out there, play our hearts out, and give you everything we had.
I believe that when children grow up, they should find out the truth about their parents. Those of you who believe in KISS need to know the truth. I know that a lot of the things you'll read in this book will be hard to take. I know that some fans may get upset at me. I know that some members of the band will hate me more than ever and claim that everything between these covers is a lie, despite my memory, despite the documentation, despite the witnesses who will attest to the events.
Either way, here's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
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