Kiss' bassist, frontman, and legendary tongue, Gene Simmons, made headlines last week for saying these four very wrong words in an interview he did with his son for Esquire magazine: "Rock is finally dead."
You should always be hesitant to expect too many profound thoughts from athletes, entertainers, or straight men who wear makeup. But anyone would be curious why a guy who cowrote "I wanna rock and roll all night" would now be quoted as saying, "The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered."
Could the reason Gene Simmons thinks rock is dead be because nothing being produced right now interests him? Could it be that he thinks audiences have moved on to other forms of entertainment? Maybe it was an observation on how guitars have become less and less noticeable in modern music. Or maybe he thinks no rock stars out there are pushing the envelope.
Those might be valid reasons for his comment, but in reading the interview, nowhere in there does Simmons say there's a lack of quality. He even shows good taste in raving about psych Aussie rockers Tame Impala. Rather, Simmons' big thesis is that it's not lucrative for kids to focus on a career in rock anymore.
He then goes on an Ayn Rand-inspired rant about how file sharing and illegal downloading of music has killed the dream of a 15-year-old kid who hopes to become rich by playing music that provokes an immediate reaction of: Fuck that hypothetical kid. Let him become a hedge-fund manager or design an app if he wants to be rich. If profit is his goal, he's going to make some crap music.
The best rock 'n' roll has always been inspired by a desire to get laid, look cool, or, at the very least, start a revolution. Look at your favorite bands and you can see the quality of their music spiral downward the longer they have been gifted with wealth; think Elvis or Axl.
I can see why Simmons would confuse commercialization with the spirit of rock 'n' roll. Kiss has always been about fattening its wallets first -- whether it was selling Kiss comic books to kids in the '70s, Kiss action figures in the '90s, or Kiss reality shows in 2014. Punk rock was created in part to rebel against the excess and money grubbing by bands like Kiss. With its outrageous theatrical appearance and mythology, Kiss once provoked the uptight, but it's long been as much a part of corporate America as General Motors or Dow Chemical.
If anything, Kiss, in its pursuit of the almighty dollar, has done its damnedest to squash the true spirit of rock 'n' roll. But as long as there's a lonely kid out there with a guitar learning a couple of chords to impress a girl or guy, rock 'n' roll will never die, even if there's not another cent to be made from it.
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