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Rock is dead, says Gene Simmons

By Todd Leopold, CNN
updated 3:08 PM EDT, Mon September 8, 2014
For 40 years, KISS has been enthralling fans with its hard-rock sound, over-the-top look and pyrotechnic shows. Although Gene Simmons has claimed <a href='http://www.esquire.com/blogs/culture/gene-simmons-future-of-rock' target='_blank'>in Esquire magazine</a> that "rock is finally dead," KISS is one of the genre's most enduring bands. Here's a look back at the group over the years. Left to right, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley pose for KISS' first album in 1974. For 40 years, KISS has been enthralling fans with its hard-rock sound, over-the-top look and pyrotechnic shows. Although Gene Simmons has claimed in Esquire magazine that "rock is finally dead," KISS is one of the genre's most enduring bands. Here's a look back at the group over the years. Left to right, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley pose for KISS' first album in 1974.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gene Simmons asserts that "rock is dead" in Esquire interview
  • It didn't have to happen, he adds: "It was murdered"
  • The Who declared rock dead in 1972
  • Blogs, Twitter come to rock's defense

(CNN) -- Add Gene Simmons to the list of people pulling the plug on rock 'n' roll.

In an interview with Esquire conducted by his son, Nick, legendary rocker and KISS frontman Simmons said that -- thanks to a crumbling business model, including "file-sharing and downloading" by fans who believe they "were entitled to have something for free" -- "rock is finally dead."

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"I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in St. Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to 10, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did," Simmons said. "He will most likely, no matter what he does, fail miserably."

Simmons blamed a lack of industry support, piracy and a lack of appreciation for "the creators."

"It's very sad for new bands. ... They just don't have a chance," he said. "You're better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs." Today's songwriters and creators are more likely to work behind the scenes than practicing and testing their material out on stage, he added.

"The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered," he said.

Simmons, of course, is far from the first to lament the decline of rock. In 1972, the Who sang "Rock is dead, they say" in "Long Live Rock," a finger in the eye to those who believed the music wasn't what it was a few years earlier. In 2009, guitarist and "Underground Garage" host Steven Van Zandt gave a speech at SXSW, "A Crisis of Craft," that observed that one reason nobody's buying records is "because they suck."

In blogs and on Twitter, reaction was largely negative to Simmons' statements.

"Business models for the music industry will come and go. But rock will never die," wrote Bill Brenner.

"So What's This About Rock Finally Being Dead? I Beg to Disagree, Gene Simmons," was the headline of a column by Alan Cross on "A Journal of Musical Things."

And the Foo Fighters were probably the pithiest.

"Not so fast, Mr. God of Thunder," the Dave Grohl-led band tweeted.

Simmons, however, doesn't think there's much future in the genre.

"It's clear that longevity is practically dead, and new artists that stand the test of time ... are so rare as to almost be nonexistent," he said.

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