Gene Simmons Claims: 'Rock Is Dead'

KISS bassist Gene Simmons once again shared a rather pessimistic stance on the guitar-driven genre's current state, pointing out that rock isn't dying because it's already dead as a dodo.

Chatting with his son Nick Simmons (via Esquire), Gene kicked off by reminiscing the old days when the likes of the Beatles, the Stones or Hendrix had a massive industry behind their back to "prop them up and support them every step of the way," ultimately insisting that "rock did not die of old age."

"Rock is finally dead," he stated. "I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to ten, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did.

"He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably. There is no industry for that anymore. And who is the culprit? There's always the changing tide of interests - music taste changes with each generation. To blame that is silly. That was always the exciting part, after all: 'What's next?' But there's something else.

"The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid's 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he's jamming with. The tragedy is that they seem to have no idea that they just killed their own opportunity - they killed the artists they would have loved. Some brilliance, somewhere, was going to be expressed, and now it won't, because it's that much harder to earn a living playing and writing songs. No one will pay you to do it."

The bassist pinpointed illegal downloaders as the primary problem, saying, "The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there's a copy left behind for you - it's not that copy that's the problem, it's the other one that someone received but didn't pay for. The problem is that nobody will pay you for the 10,000 hours you put in to create what you created. I can only imagine the frustration of all that work, and having no one value it enough to pay you for it.

"It's very sad for new bands. My heart goes out to them. They just don't have a chance. If you play guitar, it's almost impossible. You're better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for 'The X Factor.' And I'm not slamming 'The X Factor,' or pop singers. But where's the next Bob Dylan? Where's the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators? Many of them now have to work behind the scenes, to prop up pop acts and write their stuff for them."

Simmons then did the same thing like a few months back - he asked the interviewer to name 100 artists that have emerged before 1984 and that "are or will be inescapable." He continued by asking the same question, but for musicians coming after '84, his point of course being that there are very few, if any artists that have reached the same iconic status.

Furthermore, Gene stressed that the sense of entitlement among young native-born Americans is also to blame. "If you're a native-born American, my contention is that you take a lot of things for granted. All the freedoms and opportunities you have here are expected, and you feel entitled. I think this has taken over the American psyche," he said.

"My sense is that file-sharing started in predominantly white, middle- and upper-middle-class young people who were native-born, who felt they were entitled to have something for free, because that's what they were used to. If you believe in capitalism - and I'm a firm believer in free-market capitalism - then that other model is chaos. It destroys the structure.

"You'll never understand unless you're the one that wrote the song, and you were the one that had the band, whose music people took without paying you for. Once you're the one who's been robbed, there's a moment of clarity."

In conclusion, the bassist said that "patriotism is corny" these days, dubbing it "a sad state of affairs."

"I firmly believe that there's something missing in America, and it used to exist, and it's now corny. Patriotism is corny, and that's a sad state of affairs. It really is. I don't care what side of the aisle you're on - I find faults in both, some social and some political issues - but everywhere, people are taking a lot of things for granted.

"And you would know the majesty that is America if you came from hundreds of other countries I could name. If you come from a place where every day above ground is a life-threatening event, and you had the same ambition and values as the most successful people here, you would never reach the same heights. And of course this applies to Western society at large, but America especially. I think every day, we forget about the - and here's the corny part - glory of America. And that's too f--king bad."


  1. Rock isn't dead. It's HUGE! The entire music industry is still HUGE. There's just so much more good music to choose from that the music industry isn't just dominated by Rock, Pop and Country. It's called EVOLUTION. The 60s, 70s and 80s saw the real rise of the music industry. The 90s, 2000s, and 2010s are seeing the great expansion of the music industry with an even further evolution of many types of great music, not just cookie cutter genres.
    What Gene will never admit is that if Kiss hadn't have worn makeup and costumes and kept their identities secret, they wouldn't have been as big as they were. They were as much of a gimmick as Justin Bieber is now.
    His history of the music world is horrible if he doesn't remember that throughout the entire evolution of the music business, there always have been songwriters and producers working behind the scenes to prop up acts and write their stuff for them.
    That is not something new.
    He just doesn't want to admit that the reality of the issue is that the talent pool in the music industry is enormous. I make a good living and even I can't afford to buy all the music from all the artists I love. There's too much of it. I haven't downloaded a song through file sharing since the first version Napster was declared illegal. I'd prefer to pay the talented men and women for their work. But, because I like many artists from so many different genres of music, it's impossible to own everything I like to listen to.
    I've rarely ever found anything Gene Simmons says to be worth much. He was, is and always will be a snake oil salesman.