Gene Simmons: Name One Superstar Artist Created After 1988

Gene Simmons fire-breathing, 2010 (Alberto Cabello CC 2.0)
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Gene Simmons fire-breathing, 2010 (Alberto Cabello CC 2.0)
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Gene Simmons fire-breathing in Bilbao, Spain, 2010 (Alberto Cabello CC 2.0)

Superstars created between 1958-1988: Elvis, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Madonna, Prince, Jackson, U2, AC/DC, Kiss.

Superstars created after 1988: ___________________.

Last week, KISS bassist Gene Simmons boldly declared that streaming and piracy had killed the next Beatles.  But this is a lot more serious than Simmons first outlined.  In fact, the modern music industry — or lack thereof, in Gene’s opinion — is murdering an entire generation of superstar singers, singers, and bands.

Here’s what Simmons described in an interview with Rolling Stone.

Rolling Stone: What music moves you the most?

Gene Simmons: My favorite kinds of tunes are the new pop tunes. I don’t know much of them, I mean Tame Impala is OK, but because there’s no such thing as the record industry anymore, because generations of fans have trained themselves to download and file-share and stream for free, the new guys of the world will never get a chance.  So there will not be another Beatles.  You can play the game, 1958 until 1988 is thirty years,  Elvis, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Madonna, Prince, Jackson, U2, ACDC, maybe Kiss, and from 1988 until today, give me the new Beatles.

Rolling Stones: Do you stand by your statement a couple of years ago that rock is dead?

Gene Simmons: I’m going to ask you again, from 1988 until today, who’s the new Beatles?

Rolling Stone: I think groups like Pearl Jam and Radiohead…

Simmons: Hold on, hold on hold on hold on. You’re talking to a big fan. If Thom Yorke walked down the street in Pasadena, what would happen?

Rolling Stone: I think a lot of people would be shocked and thrilled to see him.

Simmons: I think you’re delusional. I’ve been with Dave Grohl when he was walking down the street and nobody knew, and he’s a big star. No, that’s not what a star is. Prince was a star. You could see him coming from a mile ahead. There are successful artists. Pearl Jam, by any standard, is very successful… how about this: more people would know Mötley Crüe walking down the street than Radiohead.

Of course, I don’t mean they are better.

One question is whether the world needs superstars on the order of Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones, or even the Beatles.

After all, who cares how huge a band is, as long as their music reaches enough fans?

And there are certainly modern-day mega-stars: Coldplay, Justin Bieber, not to mention EDM heavyweights like Calvin Harris.  And that’s just scratching the surface.  So are those artists unimportant because they’re not as absolutely massive?

On that point, Simmons argues that modern-day superstars are pop, rap, and country artists.  Not rock stars.

Because rock is dead.

“Look, the system is broken, and because the system is broken. New rock bands are very fragile. They’re like babies. You need to give them love and caring and give them a chance to come up with their better stuff so that they start with “Love Love Me Do” end up writing “A Day in the Life.” The same band. They had the time to mature and grow. But if they were living in their mother’s basement and had to work for a living, which is what’s going on today, it’s not going to happen. Yeah, rock is dead. Not that it can’t come back to life, but the business is dead. If the business is dead, rock is dead.

“You know what’s not dead? Pop. Lots of pop divas, little girls buy the material. Black music, especially rap, their fans buy the music. Country, yup, their fans buy the music. Rock, no.”


In the lengthy q&a, Simmons also waxes about Trump, fitness, frugality, drugs, and raising kids.  You can read the full interview here.



2 Responses

  1. Erik

    Rock is dead. Turns out it was as dated and as generational of a genre like HipHop and EDM. Go figure. Nothing to cry over.

  2. Nicky Knight

    Rock bands and soft rock/pop bands (like Fleetwoord Mac, Eagles etc..)

    The reason is that they’re an out of date construct and employ too many

    The electric guitar, drum kit, bass guitar are now niche players..

    The modern day super-instrument is the MacBook Pro with Cubase, Logic, FL or
    PT installed or an iPad with Cubasis loaded..

    The world is addicted to the wonders of TECHNOLOGY…

    The SSL large surface console is an endangered species also because modern music can be crafted and mixed all In the Box with full auto recall and the push of a button / click of the mouse.

    iPhones and iPads come pre-installed with GarageBand (for free) which is a very capable DAW recording studio with amazing synths and other instruments..

    The old rockers from the 70s and 80s will still be rocking out in the stadiums until
    they’re too old to lift their guitars.. or the punters no longer give a damn, but today’s generation have other ideas..

    Here’s a thought… instead of having a rock band.. there may be room for a rock solo superstar idol that has the over-the-top visual theatricals but with the
    backing music being made using State-of-the-Art technology..

    Still, even that seems a bit yesteryear..