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Gene Simmons Apologizes For Tactless Comments On Prince's Alleged Overdose Death

By McCarton Ackerman 05/13/16

The former KISS singer has a long history of making stigma-filled comments about drug addiction and mental health.

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Gene Simmons Apologizes For Tactless Comments On Prince's Alleged Overdose Death

KISS frontman Gene Simmons issued a rare apology on Tuesday after making a highly insensitive comment about the late musician, Prince, in which he referred to his alleged drug overdose death as “pathetic.”

Simmons, 66, made the comment during a Tuesday interview with Newsweek. Declaring that he’s never been high or drunk in his life, he said it was "pathetic that [Prince] killed himself." He continued: "Slowly, I’ll grant you. But that’s what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death." The singer went on Twitter to post his apology the same day, admitting he “got such shit from my family” for his tactless comment.

“Needless to say, I didn’t express myself properly here,” he wrote. “If I think I’m right, I’ll throw up a finger and dig my heels in and laugh. But this time, I was not. So, my apologies.”

Simmons admitted that he was “raised in a culture/crowd where drug addicts were written off as losers, and since that's the narrative I grew up with, it's been hard to change with the times." He also said that he gets “angry at drug users because of my experience being around them coming up in the rock scene. In my experience they've made my life, and the lives of their loved ones, difficult.” Simmons’ son, Nick, even penned an essay for VICE last June in which he wrote that his father “resents drug addicts as people” and believes in “harsh drug laws.”

The KISS singer has a history of making crude comments about drug addiction and mental health. In a 2014 interview with Songfacts.com, Simmons said he no longer keeps in touch with the original members of KISS because he doesn’t “get along with anybody who’s a drug addict and has a dark cloud over their head and sees themselves as a victim.”

His perspective on depression was even more harsh. “I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’ when there’s a guy on top of a building," he told Songfacts.com. "For a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, ‘I’m depressed, I live in Seattle.’ Fuck you, then kill yourself.”

His comments were panned by the music community. Mötley Crüe member Nikki Sixx slammed Simmons on his radio show that same month. “There’s almost 15 million Americans that are depressed," said Sixx. "15 million people should just kill themselves? I don’t like Gene’s words, because there is a 20-year-old kid out there who is a KISS fan and reads this and goes, ‘You know what? He’s right. I should just kill myself.'"

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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