So Gene Simmons, who is regrettably becoming nearly as reliable a source of “stupid right-wing musicians talking crap they shouldn’t” as Ted Nugent these days, has rather ironically proclaimed rock and roll to be “dead.”
Simmons is, of course, entirely wrong. Rock and roll is rocking and rolling as it always does and – one way or another – always has.
Simmons’ statement is ironic because I’m pretty certain I could find an old interview in “Circus” or “Hit Parader” or “Kerrang” in which Simmons or bandmate Paul Stanley responded to proclamations that their personal plot of land in the world of Rock and Roll, their band Kiss, was dead by comparing those proclamations to the cyclical announcements of the death of their genre, and now here is Gene making one of those cyclical announcements.
It’s regrettable because I like Simmons a lot more than I do Nugent. I’ve met him a number of times and he was never an absolute jerk to me or anyone else I saw. KISS was an absolutely essential band in my proto-adolescent musical growth. There’s a direct relationship between the way I present my character in some of my videos, and in both the stalking, looming presence of Simmons and the cocky, arrogant, strutting (some would say “serial sexual harassment”) of Paul Stanley, absolutely.
Nugent I don’t care about so much – so I don’t listen to the one real groove he ever had anything to do with (the bass line in “Stranglehold”), I’ve heard it enough that I can hear it in my head anyway.
Simmons is someone who influenced me and still does, so I dislike telling him he’s full of crap more than I do Nugent.
But he’s full of crap.
I still talk to people all the time who have the heart for music, whether as makers or listeners. The commercial rock industry is a cluster, always has been, and it’s always pushed banal, middle-of-the-road mass-appeal dreck as its primary product. The innovators innovate, the profit-takers exploit and water down until the next innovation. This isn’t just a cycle in rock and roll or even in music, but in every creative human endeavor that has ever been commercialized.
In rock and roll, part of that cycle is that every fifteen or twenty years or so, someone comes along and blows up the machine, just like there’s a fairly constant nostalgia curve that tends to sit right around the 18-22 year mark. Been that way since the beginning, even since before rock. For every action there’s an equal and an opposite reaction…and in rock and roll there’s also always a WTF reaction, and a money reaction.
Come with me now, dear children, as we explore the history of rock music…