Gene Simmons is a true rock god, even though he plays “The Demon” in KISS, the band he co-founded in the early 1970s that still rocks out to sold-out crowds. Simmons recently tested positive for COVID-19, so the band was forced to reschedule its tour. But it looks like KISS will be back on the road come mid-October.
Simmons has spent nearly 50 years as the front man for one of the most popular bands ever. KISS has sold more than 100 million records, but it is Simmons’ clever business savvy that led him to a net worth of $400 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Early in his career, Simmons thought that licensing would be a great way to leverage KISS. Today, more than 5000 products, including comic books, jewelry, condoms, lunch boxes and games, bear KISS-related logos, symbols and other intellectual property.
Simmons co-owns the brand with bandmate Paul Stanley. The other original bandmates, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, left the band in the early 80s. Their replacements are paid performers, not owners of the brand.
Between touring, licensing and other business deals, it has been reported that KISS grosses more than $100 million per year.
Not bad for a poor kid from Israel.
Chaim Witz was born to Florence and Ferenc on August 25, 1949, in Haifa, Israel. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. When he was eight years old, he moved to New York City with his mother. It was at about this time that he changed his name to Eugene Klein to sound more American.
Simmons’ love of music was ignited when he saw the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Even though his family was very poor, he learned how to play the guitar and diligently practiced. He did well in school and worked many jobs, including briefly teaching Spanish to sixth graders, while keeping up with his music.
He selected the stage name Gene Simmons as an homage to singer Jumpin’ Gene Simmons and played in various bands. He met Paul Stanley, who then went by Stanley Eisen, and they formed the band called Wicked Lester. They soon were signed by Epic Records. Simmons and Stanley added the Frehley and Criss to the band, and then decided to play around with makeup to create a more theatrical look. In 1974, KISS released their self-titled debut album.
It was their unique, artistic way of presenting themselves that paved the way for KISS’ success with merchandise licensing, even though it took awhile for the band to be a big hit. In fact, it was the recording of a live concert that took them to the next level, as that album went quadruple platinum, Celebrity Net Worth reported.
The band ebbed and flowed, and some went their separate ways for a while, working on other projects. Simmons also sought other projects, including some acting stints. When KISS came back together, they performed for a time in the 80s without their signature makeup. New members eventually replaced Frehley and Criss. KISS kept finding new ways to stay relevant and were able to win over new generations of fans.
Simmons co-produced the film “Detroit Rock City” in 1999, as a celebration of the band.
Simmons had live-in relationships with Cher and Diana Ross, but he has had a decades-long relationship with Shannon Tweed. They had been together for 28-years and had two children, Nick and Sophie, before they finally got married in 2011. It was during this time that the family participated in the reality series “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” that aired on A&E from 2006-2012.
For many years, Simmons’ primary residence had been in Beverly Hills. He purchased the home in 1984 for $1,327,500, according to Celebrity Net Worth, but listed in 2020 for $22 million as he prepared to relocate to an estate he’d purchased in Washington state, near Mt. Rainier. However, The New York Posted reported in March that Simmons was living in a 12,000-square-foot Lake Taho mansion.
The Simmons recently were reported to have bought a home in the Malibu Hills for $5.8 million. But Simmons told The Post that Shannon had purchased the home on her own, as a personal investment, and neither spouse will reside there.
Simmons is said to be on the mend from COVID-19, and KISS will be back on the road soon. But how much money will KISS make in merchandise before they even hit the stage?
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