Gene Simmons: ‘Prince’s death was pathetic’

"Drugs and alcohol is a slow death," says the Kiss frontman

Prince was “heads, hands and feet above” every other artist, according to Gene Simmons, but his death was “pathetic”.

The Kiss singer, who claims never to have been high – or even drunk – in his entire life, was scathing when asked about the rumours surrounding Prince’s death, that he died as a result of an addiction to painkillers. Prince, who died last month aged just 57, was found with prescription drugs on his person, but his manager has labelled allegations of an addiction “foolish”.

“Bowie was the most tragic of all because it was real sickness,” Simmons told Newsweek. “All the other ones were a choice. [Prince’s] drugs killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold?”

Paying tribute to the man as an artist, Simmons, 66, added: “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.”

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Simmons also recounted the first time he met Prince, with Diana Ross, whom he was dating at the time, at the start of the purple one’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.