Gene Simmons Sounds Off At Touring Conference Keynote


November 20, 2008

Having recently completed a 30-plus-date European tour, Kiss will “eventually when we’re ready tour America,” co-founder Gene Simmons said during a keynote address today (Nov. 20) at the fifth annual Billboard Touring Conference, held at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.

Referring to Kiss as the “juggernaut of all rock’n’roll brands,” Simmons said the band is currently working out future tour details. “We’ve been talking with [manager Doc McGhee] about Europe and then doing a year-long tour maybe this coming summer, but we’ll see,” Simmons said. “Kiss and Queen, that would be a smash. That would kill. So far (it’s) 50/50.”

During the address, Simmons, who is also a reality TV star and entrepreneur, stressed the duties of being a live performer. “I don’t care if you’re Axl Rose, forgot to tie your shoelaces or your father molested you when you were three — you’re a bitch if you don’t show up onstage when it says 9 o’clock,” he said, drawing loud applause from the audience.

“You need to have the integrity and self-respect to respect the promoter who paid you the money in advance, the hall and the people who makes all our lives possible,” he continued.

Speaking to an audience of primarily concert promoters, venue officials and booking agents, Simmons warned those in the live entertainment industry that it wouldn’t be wise to lower concert ticket prices. “Don’t do that, you’re training an entire generation of people to pay less for something and then more for something else,” he said. “They won’t know what the value is and they’d rather pay less every time.”

Simmons stressed that the touring business needs to quickly think about the future of its model. “Thank God you’re the last vestiges of a dying breed, because the record industry is already dead, because we trained the people [that] they don’t have to pay for stuff that they used to pay for,” he said. “The record industry allowed that and people are shocked they’re out of business.”

Meanwhile, Simmons expressed his discontent with the fact that Kiss, which he co-founded in 1972, has not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “A lot of those guys on the board can go and get my sandwich when I want, and I mean that in the nicest way,” he said. “There are disco bands, rap bands, Yiddish folk song bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not Kiss. I believe we have more gold records in America than any other group, but it’s OK.”

Billboard executive director of content and programming for touring and live entertainment Ray Waddell conducted today’s Q&A with Simmons. The keynote address was filmed for an episode of his A&E reality show “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” currently in its third season.

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