“Yeah, rock is dead. Not that it can't come back to life, but the business is dead. If the business is dead, rock is dead,” Simmons tells Rolling Stone. “You know what's not dead? Pop. Lots of pop divas, little girls buy the material. Black music, especially rap, their fans buy the music. Country, yup, their fans buy the music. Rock, no.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time he’s made this claim. Back in 2014, he told Esquire that rock music is “finally dead.”
“Don’t quit your day job is a good piece of advice. When I was coming up, it was not an insurmountable mountain,” Simmons said. “But for performers who are also songwriters—the creators—for rock music, for soul, for the blues—it’s finally dead. Rock is finally dead.”
Rock music's cause of death? File-sharing, which he explains: “The death of rock was not a natural death. Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered.”
Clearly, he’s standing by the fact that rock is “dead”—and that illegal streaming still seems to be the cause—in his most recent interview with Rolling Stone. When asked more about the music that moves him the most, he explains that it’s the newer pop tunes, like those from Tame Impala—not rock music at all.
However, he also blames the “generations of fans” that have “trained themselves to download and file-share and stream for free” on the decay of rock music, meaning that the new guys in the rock game will never have a chance.
“There will not be another Beatles,” Simmons says. “You can play the game, 1958 until 1988 is thirty years, Elvis, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Madonna, Prince, Jackson, U2, ACDC, maybe KISS, and from 1988 until today, give me the new Beatles.”
Not to mention, he also says there aren’t any big rock names anymore, and he’s seemingly doubting there ever will be. As soon as the interviewer attempts to back the likes of Pearl Jam and Radiohead, Simmons says no one would recognize Thom Yorke on the street in Pasadena. And he says no rockstars today will be able to have that effect.
Not even Dave Grohl…?
“I've been with Dave Grohl when he was walking down the street and nobody knew, and he's a big star. No, that's not what a star is. Prince was a star. You could see him coming from a mile ahead,” Simmons says.
“Look, the system is broken, and because the system is broken, new rock bands are very fragile. They're like babies. You need to give them love and caring and give them a chance to come up with their better stuff… But if they were living in their mother's basement and had to work for a living, which is what's going on today, it's not going to happen.”
And for that, rock is dead. Well, according to Gene Simmons.
What are your thoughts on the survival of rock? Does it seem to be thriving and is Simmons just a cynic—or is he on to something? Sound off in the comments below.