Ace Frehley Gene Simmons Peter Criss

In a recent interview with Backstage Pass, KISS bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons was asked whether there are any events from the past 50 years he would approach differently if he could travel back in time.

“Well, I’m sad in retrospect — you know, hindsight’s 20/20 — I’m sad that I wasn’t more hard on  Ace [Frehley] and Peter [Criss], the two original guys who played guitar and drums in the band,” Gene responded.

“I’d never been high or drunk and never smoked cigarettes, so I’ve always been an outcast in that way,” he continued. “The rest of the world seemed to be drug-fueled.

Ace and Peter… have as much credit for the beginning of the band as Paul [Stanley] and I do. There’s no question it was that chemistry. And they both had unique voices, unique personalities and all that. And they should have been here with us 50 or 55 years later and enjoying the fruits of their labor. But sadly, they’re not. And it’s their own doing. They were in and out of the band three different times. They were let go three different times because of the same old thing. It’s not even unique. Go to almost every band [and] you’ll find people ingesting stuff more than the bum on the street corner, except they’re richer and they can afford to ingest more. It’s sad.”

When how about how he avoided getting caught up in the drug-fueled lifestyle typical of a global rock star, Gene said: “Well, the word ‘no’ is in the dictionary. Just by observation, I’ve never seen anybody drunk be witty or intelligent. Have you? And people who are high sound like aliens. And people who smoke stink like ashtrays.

“Look, I can understand if smoking or drinking or getting high would make you smarter, richer, made your shmeckel bigger, made you more attractive — all those things that we all wish we had. ‘I wish this. I wish that.’ But nothing happens, really. In fact, you’ll probably throw up on the shoes your girlfriend just bought. You won’t be witty. The next day your head will hurt, and if you drink enough, your shmeckel is not gonna work. So I don’t get it. Chances are pretty good you’re gonna get into a fight.

“I remember when I was 13, 14, I used to go to these teenage parties where 16-year-olds would gather because I was always bigger, so they’d invite me. They’d think I was older. And like a vulture on the side, I’d just wait for the guys to get drunk and then just swoop in and take any girl I wanted.”

In a last year’s interview with 519 Magazine, expresses deep emotions regarding the absence of original KISS members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss at the band’s final tour.

I feel sad. I feel sad and angry that both Ace and Peter aren’t here. I mean, they’re alive, but they’re not here to enjoy this unbelievable journey with us. They were there at the beginning and deserve all the credit. And when they look in the mirror, the only reason they’re not here with us is themselves.”

On December 2, 2023, KISS performed the final concert of their “End Of The Road” farewell tour at Madison Square Garden in New York City.