SIMMONS, GENE (Chaim Witz; 1949– ), bass guitarist for veteran U.S. rock band KISS, which he formed in 1973 with Paul Stanley (Stanley Harvey Eisen). Born in Haifa, the only child to Hungarian Holocaust survivors Flora and Feri, Simmons immigrated to New York with his mother in 1958, after his parents divorced. Adopting the family name Klein, his mother's maiden name, Simmons also changed his name to Gene, and in the late 1960s changed his name again, dropping Klein in favor of Simmons. As a boy Simmons was educated at a yeshivah in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. After graduating from Sullivan County Community College in South Fallsburg, NY, and Richmond College in Staten Island, Simmons taught sixth grade in Harlem in New York City. After putting together KISS and after several false starts, the band finally hit the big time in 1975 with the release of Dressed to Kill, the studio album that spawned "Rock and Roll All Nite" and "C'mon and Love Me," the band's first radio hits. A string of platinum albums followed, but the band remained most acclaimed for its live performances, which featured Simmons – under his stage persona of Demon – spitting "blood" (primarily yogurt and food coloring) and "breathing fire." The shows were accompanied by ostentatious pyrotechnics throughout. Simmons did little to play down his hell-raising image, and often encouraged it: In his autobiography Kiss and Make-Up (2001), he claims to   have had sex with 4,600 partners. Simmons was also a movie and record producer, and appeared in a number of movies, including Michael Crichton's sci-fi movie Runaway. In 2004, Simmons sparked controversy during a KISS tour of Australia when he claimed that Islam was a "vile culture" that treated women worse than dogs. (Simon Spungin (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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