X17 Online caught up with KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons and guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley as they were checking in for their flight before heading to Europe for their summer 2022 tour. Simmons was asked to clarify his previous “rock is dead” comments, and he said (as transcribed by, “Rock is dead. Because as soon as fans were able to download and fileshare for free, new bands didn’t have a chance to make a living. And that breaks my heart, because there’s so many great talented young musicians and writers who are never gonna get the chance that I got. Anything that is free or a penny when it should cost a dollar or more soon is worthless.”

“From 1958 until 1988, we had Elvis [Presley], The Beatles, all the great blues men, Madonna; in disco, you had the great Motown stuff which is unequaled; you had heavy bands — Metallica and Iron Maiden and all that stuff — U2PrinceDavid Bowie, all that,” he continued. “From 1988 until today is more than 30 years. Who are the new Beatles? Who are they?”

“Right around ’88, Napster and all the rest of that showed people how to get music for nothing and you took away the value,” Simmons added. “Then musicians can’t earn a living. Not the old ones who are big and fat and rich. I understand. But the baby bands, it breaks my heart. They’re not gonna get the chance. Rock is dead.”

Asked if the decline of the music industry as consumers value access over ownership and experiences over assets has affected the size of his royalties at all, he said, “No. We make more than ever before. So it’s not about me. It’s about the baby bands.”

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6 Responses

  1. It’s rare that I ever agree with Simmons, but for the most part he’s not wrong about new bands not being able to earn money anymore It’s horrible , I’m sure there are pockets of the country where people flock to live local shows to see new bands , but its not my neck of the woods anymore – but file sharing , free music social media not only took the value away from music it helped dilute the mystique of rock n roll the magic of it – the established bands are ok as he said , I don’t know how new bands have any chance at all….

    1. Well said Robert. I don’t have the time I used to discovering new music and would rather listen to the collection I have.

  2. I think Simmons is right, also it seems that the past couple of younger generations just aren’t that interested in music, any music as much. Meaning it doesn’t seem to be a part of their lives as it was in the past. Sure, as a novelty and hobby as there are a lot of self made videos playing covers and using songs, but as far as developing a fan base that will sustain and grow, I really don’t see that too much.

  3. Until any bands and all bands stop making music, stop touring and as soon as people stop listening to rock music and stop going to shows, rock is not dead. However, he is spot on about new bands having virtually no chance of making it financially.

  4. I don’t know if it’s a willful unwillingness or just people’s inability to understand nuance or if it’s just manufactured outrage, but Gene Simmons is absolutely correct. He never said that there aren’t new rock bands. He never said that talented musicians don’t exist. What he did say is that without the infrastructure and system necessary to encourage, promote, develop, and compensate rock bands, there can be no band today to achieve the success – artistic, commercial, and financial – of KISS or any of the other bands that Gene lists. It makes for a great headline to say, “Gene Simmons thinks Rock Is Dead” and that all new rock bands suck, but that’s not at all what he is saying.

    There never will be another Elvis or Beatles or Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath or any other pioneering rock band because you can’t be a “pioneer” in a 60-plus year old genre. Rock will NEVER make a return as the dominant form of popular music because it’s an already established genre of music, and new generations want their own music (or at least a variation of the established genre). As long as people are open to new music and variations and innovations to the existing genre, Rock will not die.

  5. Gene’s literal claim that “Rock is dead” is wrong……Rock music will never die. However, I think Gene’s claim that new bands will never get the shot that he got is correct. Today’s bands will have a hard time making millions of dollars like Gene did…which leads to very expensive concert tickets.

    The internet age doomed the music business and killed the rock star mystique.

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