Gene Simmons Says Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead, Blames Fans

"Fans killed the thing they loved by downloading and file sharing for free"
Gene Simmons Says Rock 'n' Roll Is Dead, Blames Fans
Photo: Chris Bubinas
When his tongue re-enters the cavern of his mouth, KISS's Gene Simmons sure does have some stuff to say.

In a new interview with Metal Hammer, the renowned tongue-waggling musician and potential namesake of Liam Gallagher's son reminded the world that it's been almost eight years since he first declared rock 'n' roll as dearly departed, and it's still just as dead.

"I stand by my words: rock is dead," Simmons said [via Louder]. "The people that killed it are fans. Fans killed the thing they loved by downloading and file sharing for free. How do you expect somebody who loves the guitar to come into this creative process? You've got to invent yourself, and so rock is dead."

You could say he's proceeding accordingly: KISS are scheduled to play at Download Festival this June, which will be their last performance before officially retiring in 2023.

"I played this game before and it bears noting, rock continues to be dead," Simmons continued, elaborating with a primer on the history of popular music:

From 1958 until 1988 — 30 years, right? — you got Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and on and on. Motown. You have the surf thing and the Beach Boys, the British invasion – hundreds of bands. The Hollies are hardly ever talked about, they're a great band. Disco stuff — Madonna, Prince, Bowie; all that great stuff. You had the heavy bands Metallica and Iron Maiden, all that stuff in those 30 years. Eternal music and bands. But from 1988 until today, who is the new Beatles?

Naturally, he couldn't resist the opportunity to wade into some misogynistic territory, taking a swing at the influence of boy bands.

"There's no denying BTS are world-famous, but am I going to form a garage band to do those songs? No. I think they're well-crafted and professional, but One Direction and *NSYNC and all the boy bands don't change the world. It [sic] just makes little girls' hearts flutter and then they're gone. That doesn't have gravitas."

He added: "Influential bands that make somebody want to pick up a guitar, learn how to play songs and be in a band don't exist, because you can't make a living."

That last correct point about musicians struggling to make a living notwithstanding, is this guy in literal face paint really the patron saint of high art?

"If you don't buy tickets and it's all free, how does anybody make a living?" Simmons posed rhetorically, clarifying that he's not talking about bands and artists at his own level: "I know we're rich."

"But the people that work with us instead of for us, they need to feed their families. How do new bands survive? How do they have roadies? How do you pay for gas? No, no — rock is dead, and the fans are to blame. You all hurt the one you love. Sad but true."

Are music fans destined for a clichéd fate of biting the hand that feeds us? What about the economic situation at large, with astronomical costs of living and unliveable wages?

Much like how video killed the radio star, streaming — though Simmons seems to be stuck in the pre-NFT LimeWire era of file sharing — has the touring musician by the throat, especially this far into an ongoing global pandemic.

Heaven's on fire, indeed.