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Happy 65th Birthday Gene Simmons

Happy Birthday to Kiss co-founder Gene Simmons, who turns 65 today (August 25th). Although acting was an early side interest for Simmons, the bassist has branched off and become a world-renowned entrepreneur, marketing himself along with the Kiss brand all over the planet. On October 21st, Simmons will publish his latest book, titled ME, Inc. - Build An Army Of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God, Win In Life And Business.

Kiss -- who was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April -- is currently out on the road with Def Leppard, and has announced its first Las Vegas residency in celebration its 40th anniversary. The band's nine-date “Kiss Rocks Vegas” shows will run throughout November at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Simmons and Paul Stanley star in the new AMC reality show, 4th And Loud, which chronicles the inaugural season of the L.A. Kiss, the arena football team owned which is partially owned by the Kiss co-founders. Over the past decade, Simmons, his wife Shannon Tweed, and their two children Nick and Sophie, were the stars on the now-canceled A&E reality series Gene Simmons' Family Jewels.

Gene Simmons was recently forced into damage control mode following the publication of some insensitive remarks regarding addiction and depression to Songfacts. His statement posted on the Kiss Facebook page, closed by saying: "Unkind statements about depression was certainly never my intention. Fully, you will know that and I do not intend to defend myself here and now, by listing the myriad charities and self-help organizations I am involved with. Rather, I simply want to be clear that my heart goes out to anyone suffering from depression and I deeply regret any offhand remarks in the heat of an interview that might have suggested otherwise."

Gene Simmons, who was born Chaim Weitz in Tirat HaCarmel, Israel, the son of a Hungarian Nazi concentration camp survivor, told us that spending his early years in Israel hardened him for life: "Israel teaches you a sort of a different reality. Christians keep talking about this all the time, this notion of 'turn the other cheek.' Well, I don't know how to tell you this, but it doesn't work. Jews tried it in World War II -- it didn't work out very well. Turning the other cheek doesn't work for anyone except the guy that's slapping you in the face. When you grow up in Israel, you quickly learn that talking is nice, but if somebody picks on you, you gotta take 'em out."

Coming on 40 years after the band's 1975 breakthrough album Alive!, Kiss is still on the road selling out on a global scale. Simmons recalled that at the time, the band's label Casablanca was completely against the album being released -- for fear it would bankrupt them: "We were on our last legs, Casablanca was gonna go belly-up. We didn't get paid for the album -- in fact, when we told the record company we were gonna do a live record, they didn't want to do that, because live records didn't work. In those days, a live album was a liability. You did that after your career was over."

Gene Simmons told us that he's as proud as ever of Kiss' ever-evolving live show: "I want to be able to enjoy a movie -- even when the sound is turned down. And in that way, Kiss has something in common with modern pop culture; and that is to say, you can be deaf and you can be blown away by Kiss live. But I would also like to think that you could be blind and blown away by Kiss live. It is audio-visual assault -- with a little bit of pepper."

Although Paul Stanley has been vocal about his issues with co-founding members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, in his recent memoir, Face The Music: A Life Exposed, he talks frankly about the problems in keeping a partnership going with Gene Simmons over the decades. He admitted to us that it's taken a lot of work to keep the pair moving forward and on the same page: “Oh, sure. That over the years that's been an ongoing theme in our relationship. But time is the ultimate judge, and the fact that we've been together, at this point for, 40 -- my gosh -- almost 44 years says volumes. There have been times where I've been very angry and resentful -- and I'm not saying momentarily -- I’m saying for long periods of time. But, in time, everything falls in place and you get a better perspective -- hopefully. If you don’t expect from someone what’s not possible, then you won’t be disappointed.”

Kiss and Def Leppard tour dates (subject to change):

August 26 - Cuyahoga Falls, OH - Blossom Music Center
August 28 - Maryland Heights, MO - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
August 29 - Tulsa, OK - BOK Center
August 31 - Woodlands, TX - Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
September 9 - Brooklyn, NY - “Fashion Rocks” at Barclays Center (Kiss only)

"Kiss Rocks Vegas" tour dates (subject to change):

November 5 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 7 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 8 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 12 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 14 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 15 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 19 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 22 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
November 23 - Las Vegas, NV - The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Photo by PRPhotos.com

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