Gene Simmons has apologized to David Lee Roth for implying in a recent interview that the VAN HALEN frontman was past his prime.
Roth performed as the opening act for the February/March 2020 North American leg of KISS‘s farewell tour, but is not making any appearances on the rescheduled KISS shows which kicked off on August 18 in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Simmons explained Roth‘s absence from the trek by telling Rolling Stone: “[Roth] took being a frontman way beyond anything. And then, I don’t know what happened to him … something. And you get modern-day Dave. I prefer to remember Elvis Presley in his prime. Sneering lips, back in Memphis, you know, doing all that. I don’t want to think of bloated naked Elvis on the bathroom floor.”
Apparently irked at Gene‘s comments, Dave took to Instagram over the weekend to share an image of a young boy wearing shades and extending the middle finger to the camera along with the words “Roth to Simmons:” Dave posted the image 18 times.
Now Simmons has clarified his original statement, telling US Weekly that his words were misconstrued.
“I am so sorry and ashamed, actually, that I hurt David‘s feelings,” Gene said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “I’m the guy, actually, that saw [VAN HALEN] at a club [in the 1970s], signed them to my production company, flew them to New York, produced their first 24-track 15-song demo and championed the band. And, actually, we took David out as our opening act on the [KISS ‘End Of The Road’] tour. And in the course of an interview… You hear me talking — I just sort of stream of consciousness… I don’t mean to hurt people’s feelings, and every once in a while, diarrhea of the mouth comes out.”
He continued: “I read that quote, and somehow the way they put it together… I think I said something like, ‘Nobody touched David in his prime — not Robert Plant, not Jagger, not anybody… He was the king.’ And then somehow there was a segue to Elvis bloated on the ground and fat and naked and I don’t wanna see that. I wasn’t talking about David, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is I hurt David‘s feelings, and that’s more important than the intent. So I sincerely apologize for that. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings. It reminds me of the guy that gets out of a truck and says, ‘Hey, I’m sorry, buddy. I didn’t mean to run you over.’ Well, what the fuck’s the difference? You’ve been run over.”
Asked if he thinks the reason Roth felt so slighted by his comments is the fact that he respects Gene and values his opinion, Simmons responded: “I don’t know. Nah. I don’t think anybody gives two shits about what I think, and that’s the way it should be — treat everybody sort of on an equal plane. This is gonna get me in trouble too — even the Pope poops every day. You know, this kind of the humanity of it all. I’m not better than you; you’re not better than me. And feelings — that includes the Pope, who’s a good guy and everything — feelings are human. And anybody can hurt your feelings. I mean, you can be the king of anything, and a kid can come over and say, ‘Eh, you stink,’ in front of everybody else, and it can hurt your feeelings.
“So, for that I’m really sorry about. I never meant to hurt his feelings. But in the way the words came out, yeah, I could see where that was the impression. Not my intention.”
In a January 2020 interview with Eric Blair of “The Blairing Out With Eric Blair Show”, Paul Stanley was asked what the best part was of having Roth opening for KISS. Stanley said: “Well, Dave‘s got so many great songs. All the VAN HALEN catalog is terrific, and that’s what he’s doing. So, people get to hear all those great songs, and it was something that really appealed to us.”
Simmons has repeatedly taken credit for “discovering” VAN HALEN and flying the band to New York to record a 15-song demo at Electric Lady Studios, with Gene at the production helm. But he ended up not working with the group after his KISS bandmates and manager, Bill Aucoin, expressed little interest in his demos. “I gave the demo back to the band, told them I had a tour to go on and afterward I would try to get them a record deal, but until then, I tore up our contract and set them free,” he said. “It didn’t take them long to get on Warner Bros.”
In March 2020, Roth postponed the final six shows of his Las Vegas residency due to the coronavirus pandemic.
KISS‘s rescheduled “End Of The Road” dates run through October.