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Gene Simmons claims that “rock ‘n’ roll is dead” in a fiery debate with Paul Stanley

KISS legend Gene Simmons has openly claimed that rock is dead. His bandmate Paul Stanley, however, has faith that it can outlast any record released today.

It’s not the most comforting feeling when you hear the words “Rock ‘n roll is dead” from the people that cracked the genre open. Gene Simmons is one of them.

But, KISS rocker Gene Simmons seems to believe that the next generation of musicians are doomed to “fail miserably” as the rock industry has been murdered by technology. Wow.

KISS Gene SImmons
Photograph: Glenn Koenig, LA Times, Getty Images

In an outrightly depressing 2014 interview with his son Nick, Simmons declared that rock music has no future because file sharing killed any chance of receiving credit and value for new creations.

He continued to list legendary artists such as The Beatles, Elvis, Michael Jackson, U2, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd and challenged that (besides Nirvana) there is no rock artist from 1984 onwards that has created work on the same iconic level.

“What is the next Dark Side of the Moon? Now that the record industry barely exists, they wouldn’t have a chance to make something like that,” he mused.

Six years later, in a 2020 interview, Simmons has doubled down on the remark that rock is, indeed, dead. The comment came just hours before KISS’ record breaking New Years Eve show, live-streamed from Dubai.

Whilst Simmons sticks to his guns that “new bands haven’t taken the time to create glamour, excitement and epic stuff”, singer/guitarist Paul Stanley takes a different approach and discusses the timeless mark KISS has left on the music industry. “KISS’ DNA is in every entertainment venue you see… we wrote the book on presentation,” he said.

Stanley isn’t wrong, the main genre that consistently sells out concerts on a large scale is rock and roll. It is the same reason why “artists like Led Zeppelin will outlast anything that has the number one record today.” 

Although the industry may never birth another Beatles or Elvis, Simmons and Stanley express love for current artists such as Billie Eilish and Lady Gaga, both of whom write and play their own unique material.