Gene Simmons Loves Jiminy Cricket, Has No Sympathy for Philip Seymour Hoffman
Rolling Stone’s latest issue is a long-overdue Kiss lovefest — in fact, for the band’s first-ever cover appearance, they collected so much material it couldn’t all fit in the magazine.
Some of the better bits and pieces were gathered up in an online article titled ‘18 Things You Learn Hanging Out with Kiss,’ which features a random assortment of Kiss quotes and anecdotes from members past and present. Some of it will come as no surprise to anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the group’s music (they count the New York Dolls and Alice Cooper among their early influences), but it wouldn’t be a Kiss article without a few colorful comments, and this one’s no exception.
Unsurprisingly, some of the best stuff comes courtesy of Gene Simmons, who traces his dreams of stardom to the first time he saw Jiminy Cricket singing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ (a song he later covered, see above) in ‘Pinocchio.’ “I saw this little bug singing, ‘Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Me?’ It was a religious experience,” Simmons recalled. “Jiminy Cricket was my Christ. This kind of dawning of consciousness of, ‘I can be great.'”
[Editor’s note: the lyric Simmons quoted above is actually ‘Young at Heart,’ a 1953 hit for Frank Sinatra, but the line nonetheless sums up ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’s’ message]
Less warm and fuzzy are Simmons’ thoughts on actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose drug-related death made headlines earlier this year. “I don’t think it’s sad at all,” sniffed Simmons, who earlier shrugged off the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. “He was white in this racist world. He was f—in’ rich. And he was a movie star. If you wanna take your life, good luck to you. You know what’s sad? A loving husband or mother who crosses the street and gets run over by a truck. That’s sad. Because you didn’t have anything to do with it.”
The article also includes quotes from former members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss as well as Frehley’s latest replacement, Tommy Thayer, who wears Frehley’s signature makeup, much to many fans’ chagrin — a decision alluded to by co-founder Paul Stanley, who believes the Kiss brand was diluted by the introduction of new “characters” in the ’80s.
“People didn’t buy it,” Stanley said of former guitarist Vinnie Vincent and ex-drummer Eric Carr‘s ‘Ankh Warrior’ and ‘Fox’ makeup. “And that was another reason that the fan base started to dissipate. It lost its believability. It became a menagerie — we could have had Snail Man. And we saw a decline that started gradually, but quickly we fell off the edge of the cliff. To go from doing multiple nights in an arena to, next tour, not being able to sell out a theater, is stark.”