Gene Simmons to Kurt Cobain: 'What, Just 'Cause You Died You're an Icon?'

Kiss bassist refuses to acknowledge late Nirvana frontman as a legend.

Ultimate Guitar

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons shared his grim perspective of the music industry and its current state, pointing out that in his book, late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain and late singer Amy Winehouse simply can't count among the music icons. Gene reached the subject while discussing the importance of major record labels and corporate music business. Initially, the bassist kicked off talking about piracy. "The internet's a fascinating experiment, but ultimately it's a very sad state of affairs for the new bands." he told Team Rock Radio. "There won't be another Beatles or another Prince or another KISS because there isn't that support system, there's no record companies 'cause kids have decided they can download and fileshare and bypass paying the artists what they rightfully should be getting." Simmons then decided to compare the 1958 - 1983 period with post-1984 era, naming artists of each time that can be considered as definite music icons. "There was once upon a time a corporate record company institution which paid you money that you never had to pay back, even if your record bumped," he said, just to start naming "100 iconic superstars from 1958 until 1983." "Let me see - Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, the Who and just on and on. And through the '70s - Aerosmith, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Yes ... Now from 1984 until today, name one superstar that's bigger than their music, and not just somebody that's recorded one or two records, but another Queen or another AC/DC ... None, you can't name one." Simmons then focused on specific examples, saying, "Kurt Cobain - no, that's one or two records, that's not enough. Amy Winehouse - that's one or two records, that's not enough. What, just 'cause you died that makes you an icon? No, no." Gene finally noted that modern bands are currently trying out the "Radiohead model" where fans pay whichever amount of money they want for the record. "But it doesn't work, doesn't it?" he concluded.

208 comments sorted by best / new / date

comments policy
    If I recall, I believe Nevermind has sold more copies in it's 22 years than any KISS album has ever sold. I think Simmons has just become aware of his irrelevance.
    If you base greatness on record sales, then Westlife and Steps must be some of the greatest bands to walk the planet. Popularity via record sales, does not constitute greatness.
    Vicryl 2.0
    ask 10 people between ages 10 to 50... majority would be more familiar with Smells like teen spirit than any KISS songs.
    Can't be an icon if you only did one or two records? Randy Rhoads. F*ck off, Gene.
    Randy did more than just two records you pleb. Quiet Riot I and II, as well as Blizzard and Diary
    Do you know what pleb means? I used to think it was just a funny insult until plebgate...
    I tend to take the opinion that people who use words such as "pleb" without knowing the meaning of said word are generally plebs themselves, or at least too lazy to do research. Plebgate was a storm in a teacup, and another example of the press blowing something out of all proportion.
    Yes it was a storm in a teacup but it taught me that it's not cool to call someone that, especially in these times of austerity.
    what,just cause you wore some paint,you re a good musician?
    Basically what I came here to say. Also, Gene seems to have forgotten about Dave Grohl. He and all of his music is pretty darn big. Not to mention he's never had to sellout or rely on makeup, pyro, or pro tools. The ball is in your court Gene.
    In what world can you compare Kiss to the Beatles in regards to popularity and icon status. Gene Simmons is a joke.
    Apparently he's never heard of Metallica...
    Tool, QotSA, Jack White....
    soma adicto
    jack white???...stfu *******
    His albums with The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, his solo career, his production work, his fight for the preservation of music .. Jack White will surely be remembered
    Mainly for his lack of pigment.
    I think this was the hardest I've ever laughed at a comment on a UG article. Well done.
    i find it funny that your user name is backin84, according to simmons thats the year the music died
    Metallica is a "pre-1984" band. They weren't huge in that time, but they started before '84.
    They only became truly iconic in the 90's.
    That's simply not true. Kill 'Em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets and Justice all came out before the 90's
    Simmons is an idiot.
    Have KISS actually released any iconic records? I'm a big KISS fan, but most people only know them for just 2 or 3 songs...
    Nobody really knows Kiss for their music. I'm not saying nobody likes their music, because I do, but they are famous for their stage show. Oh, and I think Alive is kind of an iconic record. I have heard that many rock guitarists consider Alive to be one of their main influences.
    True. I bump Kiss on my Ipod or even on the rare occasion when a song plays on the radio but it's mostly the stuff that they are know for and it's only a handful of songs.
    And this comment pretty much sums it up...
    Simmons doesn't understand that we have passed the age where you admire rock titans like gods. It's over, it won't be back. Taylor Swift is doing that job for little girls now. The new world wants cool, good rock bands who you can identify with, no fire-spitting sex addicts in make up.
    Yes, music and concerts will be mediocre, boring and forgettable forevermore. Hooray for lazy mediocrity and perpetual failure.
    He's criticising Nirvana and challenging Kurt's status based on how many albums they released, I prefer those 3 great Nirvana albums to those 24 average at best Kiss albums
    He is right. Sad but true. A depressed, sadistic, drug addict
    So I wonder what he thinks of Jimi Hendrix... Alive for a short amount of time - but released some brilliant stuff. And for artists like Kurt and Amy, and if I may add Jeff Buckley as another example, I think you really don't need to release that many albums at all to have a massive impact, it's all about who you've inspired because of your career. That's what makes a legend in my eyes.
    What, just because you're alive you're an icon? Shut up gene
    He things quality is measured by the number of records I guess. Which my explain why out of a multitude of KISS records, none was actually any good yet he considers himself a class act. Please.
    I know your probably just hating on him but honestly the first 6 Kiss albums were great albums and so were the first two Alive albums.