Gene Simmons names the greatest guitarist of all time

Gene Simmons

The 1970s arrived just when everyone believed that rock music had reached its peak with The Beatles. This new decade was characterized by more anarchistic countercultural revolutions in the punk wave. Advancements in heavy metal, glam rock, and prog-rock also marked the era, following the significant hippie phase of the late 1960s. The New York City glam metal group Kiss was somewhere in the middle of all this chaos.

Rock bands tended to wear dark suits in the early 1960s, but in the psychedelic era, they adopted colorful, fluffy jackets and shoulder-length hair. When the 1970s arrived, glam rock stars like Marc Bolan and David Bowie were leading the fashion charge. Bolan had bright orange hair and colorful flare suits. Bowie sported a striking stovepipe hat and cheek glitter.

By covering their faces in layers of white makeup and wearing extravagant suits that evolved, Kiss created icons out of themselves. They heeded advancements in style and showmanship. It was obvious who was on stage when bassist Gene Simmons unfurled his six-inch tongue in front of the audience. He launched into an early hit like “Deuce.”

Despite their extravagance, Kiss took great pride in their inventive compositions and dedicated themselves to their craft. Their music was always aggressive and full of catchy bass hooks and fast-paced rhythm guitar work. It was influenced by early metal pioneers such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin.

As the bassist, prolific songwriter, and co-lead vocalist of the group, Simmons drew inspiration from a wide range of musical genres. Few of Simmons’ contemporaries could compare to Paul McCartney as a bassist and composer. Throughout the 1960s, McCartney’s skill at writing songs seemed to overshadow Simmons’ melodic command of the instrument. He recalled in a 2016 interview with Rock Cellar, “I heard a Beatles song when I was growing up as a fan, and you’d listen to it, and you’d go away humming it.” “You discover later on that you’re occasionally humming a bass part.”

As a bassist, Simmons attempted to use the lowly bass guitar as a powerful lead instrument, elevating its status. Apart from McCartney’s impact, Simmons discovered great admiration for the compositions of renowned lead guitarists. He particularly admired Jimmy Page. He also admired Jimi Hendrix. All things considered, Jeff Beck was his favorite guitarist.

Gene Simmons was one of the celebrities who paid tribute to Beck, the late guitarist for The Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. Beck passed away in January 2023. After learning about his guitar hero Jeff, he remarked, “It’s difficult. I learned about his passing not too long ago, just a few hours ago.” He found it difficult to gather his thoughts. “So you can hear that there’s a little too much in my voice.”

Gene Simmons had had multiple encounters with Beck and was consistently impressed by his modest manner. The difference in their careers was that Kiss was always going to be arena tours and mass acclaim. Meanwhile, Beck stayed mostly out of the spotlight when it came to his commercial appeal. He earned the respect of numerous musicians who recognized his vital contribution to rock music from a variety of backgrounds.

Though his work was primarily blues-based, Beck eventually incorporated elements of jazz and classical music into his intricate compositions. Even though this material was more esoteric than Jimmy Page’s Led Zeppelin work, musicians like Brian May and Simmons were still aware of it. “The greatest, the Claptons, the Jimmy Pages, the Brian Mays—all incredible, incredible talents,” Simmons went on to say in an interview with the BBC. “Only Jeff Beck possessed the talent and divine favor to effortlessly become a legend in the genres of jazz, fusion, rock, and blues. He was capable of everything.

As he concluded his live statement in Beck’s honor, Simmons chose one of the guitarist’s greatest works to sing: “You want to hear something classic? Play “Nessun Dorma” by Jeff Beck with a symphonic orchestra. You will cry if no one is around.

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