This is a little old by now, but since Simmons is still getting attacked over it, I figure it’s worth writing about it.
Okay, first, let’s look back at a couple of old posts of mine:
So you know where I’m coming from. I’ve long admired Gene Simmons, and I’ve been a lifelong fan of Prince, and was devastated by his death. So, naturally, when I first saw the headline: GENE SIMMONS CALLS PRINCE’S DEATH “PATHETIC”, that did not sit well with me. My immediate thought was, well that’s it for him, as far as I’m concerned. I mean, Gene has said plenty of other dumb stuff over the years, which I’ve just brushed off. But attacking Prince right after he died?!? That is going too darn far.
Then I actually read the original interview. And I read all of Gene’s comments in context.
“[David] Bowie was the most tragic of all because it was real sickness,” Simmons tells Newsweek. “All the other ones were a choice.” Even Prince? “His drugs killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold?” (Prince’s body was found with prescription painkillers in his possession; however, his longtime lawyer denied he was “drugged up,” calling allegations of addiction “foolish.”)
Simmons is nothing if not frank. He continues: “I think Prince was heads, hands and feet above all the rest of them. I thought he left [Michael] Jackson in the dust. Prince was way beyond that. But how pathetic that he killed himself. Don’t kid yourself, that’s what he did. Slowly, I’ll grant you… but that’s what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death.”
Newsweek: Did you ever meet Prince?
Gene Simmons: I took Diana [Ross, his girlfriend at the time] to see him when he was first starting out. He was playing a club and we’d never seen anything like that. Backstage when we came up to say ‘you were great,’ we were expecting this huge personality and he was a very small, slight human being. He might have been five-foot-four, very shy, with his eyes to the ground, very self-effacing. He just couldn’t take a compliment: ‘Thank you, thank you.’ He spoke in a whisper. It was shocking actually. He couldn’t look Diana Ross in the face—he kept his eyes to the ground.
The one question I have is: When we all start out and we have these big dreams and you finally get your wish—you have more money than God and fame—what is that insane gene in us, well, a lot of us, that makes us want to succumb to the cliché of clichés: drugs and alcohol?
Are you saying you’ve never dabbled yourself?
I’ve never been high or drunk in my life. I have to validate that: Except in a dentist’s chair where they knock you out. I’ve never been high or drunk. I don’t care if anybody believes it or not. It’s just a personal life choice. I can almost understand drinking or getting high if it made my schmeckel bigger, or made me smarter, but nothing happens.
Okay, so, notice how he does go out of his way to praise Prince as an an artist (even favorably comparing him to Michael Jackson, although you know I think that’s bad comparison anyway)? He’s not saying Prince was pathetic, he’s saying drug and alcohol abuse is pathetic. He’s saying that people who do that stuff are basically killing themselves, so we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens.
And, you know what? Basically I agree with him. I’ve never done any illegal drugs either, not even marijuana. I don’t want to get “high,” it’s stupid. I avoided alcohol for most of my life, didn’t have my first drink until I was 30. And I’ve never been drunk. I’ve gotten a little tipsy a few times, but I always stop before it gets too far. I’ve never understood the appeal of alcohol abuse, I’m still amazed when I see folks intentionally getting drunk, like actually planning it in advance.
It’s just nuts to me. And, yeah, it’s especially worse when you have money and fame. At least with broke folks, I can sort of understand why you want to do something to forget how bad your life is. But when you’re rich and successful? Why risk everything?
Anyway, you could still argue that Gene jumped the gun, in making assumptions about Prince’s death, and it’s relation to drugs. Maybe he should wait until actual facts are out. That’s a fair criticism. But that’s not how the media reported Gene’s comments. They had their click-bait headline and ran with it.
These sites know that most people barely click past the headlines anyway. And this is how the story that Gene Simmons Called Prince Pathetic spread across the net, until even Gene felt compelled to apologize. But even as they report on that, they still characterize it in the most negative way
I guess my point tonight is to not just accept everything the way the media spins it.