Book by Gene Simmons
Review by Ronnie

“I believe that when children grow up, they should find out the truth about their parents. Those of you who believe in KISS need to know the truth. I know that a lot of the things you’ll read in this book will be hard to take. I know that some fans may bet upset at me. I know that some members of the band will hate me more than ever and claim that everything between these covers is a lie, despite my memory, despite the documentation, despite the witnesses who will attest to the events.”

With an intro like this, you would have thought that you were about to read a “tell-all” book and mud slinging fest. But, Gene Simmons is classier than that, only mentioning some of the shortcomings of some of his band mates in the band. He leaves the “Peter Criss living under a bridge” type stories for the Enquirer! You can tell that although Gene didn’t always see eye to eye with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, there is a kinship there that Gene does not want to encroach. Gene has the media savvy of Paul McCartney, which is not surprising, since the Beatles were the model through which Gene masterminded KISS. Like McCartney, Simmons says a lot, but gives away very little.

I loved seeing the early history of KISS through Gene’s eyes. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley definitely had a game plan for KISS and ALL aspiring musicians should read this book as a sort of motivator – you’ll see what happens when a band has a plan and implements it. Speaking of motivation, one of the best parts of the book for me was Gene retelling his childhood and the stories about his mother. His mother is an amazing lady, living through the horrors of the concentration camps in WWII, raising her son as a single parent in Israel and finally, their immigration to the United States.

Being a KISS fan, one of the things I was most interested in was the recording of the albums and the songs. However, Gene glosses over most of the stories-behind-the-albums and says very little about the actual songs. The album, CARNIVAL OF SOULS barely gets a paragraph. In my opinion, this is the big failing of this book, because although the “image” is an important part of the KISS legend, the songs are also vital and intricate part. You can’t just gloss over them. One thing that does get mentioned is Gene’s legendary sex-capades, with his telling of 4,600 liaisons. But “life on the road” stories are generally left out.

At 258 pages, the book simply tries to cover too much material in a short space. Especially when you consider that he is talking about one of the biggest bands in rock ‘n roll. Also, there are plenty of photos in the book, which whittle down the actual amount of reading text. When you also fit in stories about your upbringing, your relationships and your children, you are ultimately talking about a book that just touches the surface of the KISS phenomenon. I would recommend this book to any KISS fan, but do what I did – find the book at a half-priced bookstore.

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