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Gene Simmons: Outrageous rockers are still going strong

"LOOK at this," says Gene Simmons, frontman in rock and roll's most eccentric, outrageous rock band, Kiss.

He takes a card from his black leather wallet and puts it on the table.

Gene's plastic doesn't bear the name of his bank. It's a Kiss credit card, embossed with the famous logo that represents America's fire-breathing, face-paint-wearing rockers.

The credit card is just one fragment of the Kiss Empire, a riff-driven industry powered by Simmons' ever-savvy brain.

There are Kiss dolls, Kiss pinball machines, Kiss masks, Kiss condoms and even Kiss caskets. And, the band have just announced, live recordings on USB sticks of the band's concerts throughout their UK tour.

Simmons is not ashamed of Kiss's shameless marketing bandwagon.

"We were lambasted when we first started doing branding 35 years ago. Bands didn't do that – they just sold T-shirts. But branding wouldn't work as well with other bands – Radiohead action figures don't work."

Simmons' insatiable drive towards monetary success is not unjustified. Born Chaim Witz, in Israel, Gene Simmons moved to New York when he was eight. He grew up in a poor family for whom televisions and refrigerators were the kind of luxuries they could never afford. But it was those emblems of a prosperous post-war America, which would become the mechanisms of Kiss's success.

Simmons still remembers the hardship of his childhood: "You remember the empty feeling in your gut.

"If you live in the Western world instead of somewhere like Iran, you're free – you have every opportunity to do everything you can imagine.

Read the entire article from the Yorkshire Post >>

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