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Gene Simmons recalls when he gave Geddy Lee a bass lesson

Gene Simmons
Images from Piers Morgan and Stephen Scott

Classic Rock

Gene Simmons recalls when he gave Geddy Lee a bass lesson

Kiss was formed in New York City back in 1973 and quickly became one of the biggest bands in the world during that decade. On their huge tours they gave the opportunity for many incredible bands to appear as their opening acts. One of them were a young Canadian band called Rush, that performed with them in 1974, 1975 and 1976. The Kiss co-founder, bassist and singer Gene Simmons recalled in an interview with Ultimate Guitar that he even gave Geddy Lee some bass lessons at the time, since he played everything by ear and wasn’t familiar with the names of the notes.


Gene Simmons recalls when he gave Geddy Lee a bass lesson

“Kiss took out Rush on their first tour. They came out to support us, you know, because we liked what they did. And this was in the, in their ‘Working Man’ period, when they sounded kind of like a Canadian Zeppelin, which I still prefer, sound-wise, but obviously, they’ve done very well, and we used to hang out with the guys and joke around everything.”

“One night back at the hotel or backstage someplace, Geddy and I were sitting down, trading licks, and I said, ‘Do you want to do a blues scale? You go first, and then I’ll continue the chord pattern,’ and he said, ‘I don’t know what you mean.’ At least from what I recall, Geddy didn’t understand what a blues scale was or what ‘1,4,5’ meant.”

Simmons continued:

“That also bears noting that when you go ‘1,4,5’ to a musician, that means something, it’s a relationship of notes or chords. And so I go, ‘Well, okay then, you hit a G, either octave or low,’ and he said, ‘Which one is that?’ Geddy played purely by ear. Now of course later on, he learned what the notes were and stuff like that, but it’s the same thing with The Edge.”

“The reason you heard ‘jingle jangle jingle jangle,’ kind of thing — that became the style of U2’s guitar sound is when The Edge started playing guitar in a band, he couldn’t play chords. He just strummed various notes so, it’s all open to… Music is an interesting thing. You don’t have to get complex about it, just start,” Gene Simmons said.

Rush wasn’t the only famous band that had the chance to be an opening act for Kiss. Other incredible groups that toured with them in the early days of their careers were Judas Priest, Blue Öyster Cult, Ted Nugent, Scorpions, Sammy Hagar, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Mötley Crüe.

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