Prince passed away at his Paisley Park home in Minnesota last month (April 21), aged 57. Although a cause of death has not yet been announced, police have confirmed that they are looking into the possibility that Prince died from an overdose of prescription drugs. It was recently alleged that the painkiller Percocet was found in Prince’s system during an autopsy.
Speaking about the rumours and reports surrounding the late music icon’s deaths, Simmons told Newsweek: “Bowie was the most tragic of all because it was real sickness. All the other ones were a choice. [Prince’s] drugs killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold?”
Simmons, 66, went on to add: “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.”
Following criticism over his comments, Simmons later took to Twitter to release a public statement of apology. It reads: “I got such shit from my family for my big mouth again. I apologise. I have a long history of getting very angry at what drugs do to the families/friends of the addicts.”
“I was raised in a culture where addicts were written off as losers and it’s been hard to change with the times,” he explains. “Needless to say, I didn’t express myself properly here.” Read the full apology below.
Simmons’ comments were also criticised by his Kiss bandmate Paul Stanley, who described himself as “embarrassed” by Simmons’ “cold clueless statements”.
Embarrassed by cold clueless statements re Prince's death. Without all the facts better to say nothing. My apologies https://t.co/Arb5XQ4o7l
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) May 10, 2016
Elsewhere in his Newsweek interview, Simmons paid tribute to Prince’s musical legacy, saying: “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.”
Simmons also recounted the first time he met Prince with Diana Ross, whom he was dating at the time, at the start of the late star’s career.
“He was playing a club and we’d never seen anything like that,” Simmons said. “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.”