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Gene Simmons on Giving Back & Why He's 'Thinking of Buying the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame'

Outspoken Kiss icon Gene Simmons is a journalist’s dream, always good for colorful quotes on a variety of subjects. Like when the subject turns to Kiss’ place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Simmons questions why acts like Madonna and Donna Summer are in there. And he wonders: “When is Led Zeppelin going to be in the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame?”

But Simmons has a softer side as he talks about his many philanthropic endeavors. He’ll be participating in two charity events. The first is Aug. 16 at Lucky Strike in Hollywood, where he and Johnny Depp will bowl and lead an all-star jam that also includes Gilby Clarke, Nuno Bettencourt and more to raise funds for Mending Kids, an organization that raises money to send doctors around the world to perform operations on kids in need. The second event will take place Aug. 18, where Simmons will be interviewed at the Grammy Museum following stand-up sets by the likes of Bill Burr and Jim Jefferies as part of Comedy Rocks. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Sophie’s Place, a charity set up by his daughter Sophie Simmons, which also benefits children.

Tell us about the event Sunday.

Mending Kids does great work. All the funding comes in from contributions, and MendingKids.org sends doctors, on their dime, around the world to provide free operations to children with physical deformities, facial, spinal, anything, where otherwise they would have a life of pain and suffering and perhaps death. So Johnny Depp and I are gonna bowl August 16 at Lucky Strike in Hollywood, so people should go get their tickets. Space is limited, it’s not one of those huge events, so there’ll be high-end people and a rock band, everybody’s gonna jump up and jam. Johnny will play a few songs, I’ll play a few songs, a few other knuckleheads will jump up, and all the proceeds go to MendingKids.org to provide children with operations that they would normally never have.

Have you ever jammed with Johnny before?

No. We’ve met and chatted some, but never been onstage with him.

Are there covers you’d be particularly excited to do with him?

We have no idea. We’re just gonna do it loosey-goosey -- which is not a bad name for a band, not a good name come to think of it. But you get up there and just let it roll. There’ll be a good bunch of musicians; it’s gonna be a good night. But anything you do too slick doesn’t come off heartfelt. It’s less about the show and the celebrities and more about the good and what we’re all trying to do for kids.

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