Gene Simmons Calls for End to ‘Stupid Fascination’ With Drugs
Kiss star Gene Simmons called for an end to the entertainment world’s “stupid fascination” with drug addiction.
He added that he was writing a book about his experiences with victims of the problem, and also revealed that he had issued warnings to Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley before his drug-related death in 2002, as well as to Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland before he died in 2015 under similar circumstances.
“I met Weiland at a club, and I said to him, ‘Look, you’ve got to be straight,” Simmons told WRIF 101.1 (via Blabbermouth) when Kiss considered having STP open for them in 1996. “Cut it with all the heroin and the crap, respect the fans, get up onstage, do a great show, it’s all yours. We’ll support you – but I want you clean on stage. [He said,] ‘Gene, I promise!’ It’s like what anybody who’s a drug addict and an alcoholic says, ‘I’ve been clean for a million years’ and stuff. And then he died.”
Simmons recalled he had a similar conversation with Staley. "Right before they went up onstage, I said, ‘Layne, here they are, they’re fans, they’re lined up, it’s all yours. Just go out there and do great,’" he explained. "'Gene, I have been straight, I straightened up,’ and all that. And then he died.”
Simmons noted that he's had these conversations with a number of artists over the years, and they taught him to question their sincerity about getting clean. “f you were an alcoholic or a drug addict, you're gonna be that for the rest of your life," Simmons said. "And that's what they tell you in AA and other organizations – that every day it's gonna be a decision. You're gonna have to make that decision to be straight, or ruin your life and hurt everybody around you. ... But what I'm saying, of course, is not cool. You're supposed to get wasted and ‘Hope I die before I get old’ and all that stuff.”
Those experiences had steered Simmons toward writing a book called 27, referring to the “27 Club” of artists who have died at that age as a result of negative influences in their lives. He added that the book was partly inspired by Frances Bean Cobain, daughter of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, who, he said, had to endure comments like, “Hey, it’s really cool your father died while you’re still a baby from drugs.”
“It’s really about when you become rich and famous and everybody admires you – what is that thing that makes people destroy themselves, even to die? What is that?" he asked. "The rest of the world adores you and your fans love you and they give you money and fame and all that, and then you kill yourself. I don't get it. If you drink enough, your equipment won't work. If you get high, trust me, you're not gonna be witty or look cool. No, there's nothing about that. We've gotta tear down this stupid fascination with it – it's self-destructive. What's happening with opioids is killing everybody. No, there's nothing cool about that. I'll tell you what's cool: somebody who arches their back, stands up straight and says, ‘Every day above ground is a good day. Now watch me burn rubber.’ That's cool.”