It can be said that the music of every decade is a result of especially what happened in the last one. In the 70s most of the groups were hugely influenced by what happened in the 60s, especially in the United Kingdom. One of those bands was Kiss, formed by Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley and Peter Criss in New York.
The band quickly built a huge audience that not only loved their music but also their costumes, make-up and of course, the mind-blowing concerts that were not like anything they have seen before.
Over the decades, the band’s bassist and singer Gene Simmons talked about many of his influences and even mentioned one guitarist that he loves that according to him “could play anything”.
The guitarist that Gene Simmons said could play everything
Kiss was formed in 1973, in New York City and with 8 studio albums released during that decade they became one of the biggest bands in the world and a real phenomenon was born. They were part of a generation that had the chance to see many incredible British groups playing in the United States and absorbed everything they could about those bands.
One of Simmons’ favorite artists was the late legendary guitarist Jeff Beck, who he said could really “play anything”, because he was a real genius. The guitar player passed away on January 10, 2023 at the age of 78. In an interview with BBC News (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage), the Kiss co-founder lamented Beck’s death, who besides being a hero, was also a good friend.
“It’s difficult, I learned about Jeff’s passing not too long ago, just a few hours ago. So you can hear in my voice, it’s a little much. First, more importantly than the BBC and all the accolades, all that, my heart goes out to his family, to his fans, to everybody. I’ll tell you a quick story above and beyond his God-given (talent) that was Jeff Beck as a musician. I was proud to be able to host the Classic Rock awards. In the room where (everybody) was going on about all the guitar player, the drummers and everything.”
Gene Simmons continued:
“The room was filled with all these giant figures and my son Nick was with me. He was sitting at the table with me and he goes ‘Dad, it’s Jeff Beck’. I’m going, ‘Yeah, that’s Jeff Beck’ and he goes ‘Oh my God’. I go ‘Do you want to say hello Jeff?’. He goes ‘Yeah!’. So I walked over and said ‘Jeff, would you mind, my son is a big fan of yours, he just wants to say (hello)’. He just goes ‘Oh, yeah, sure’. So he walked over and he goes ‘Alright, Nick, how are you? Nice to see you’. My son was so overtaken that the words (didn’t came out), he was a blithering idiot, he just couldn’t even form the words.”
“I will tell you that, and all the guitar players will tell you that. The classics, the greats, the Claptons, the Jimmy Pages, the Brian Mays, all amazing, amazing talents. Only Jeff Beck had the ability, the God-given blessing to be able to easily be an icon in Jazz, in Fusion, Rock, Blues. He could do it all. You want to hear something classic? Listen to Jeff Beck’s version of ‘Nessun Dorma’ with a symphony orchestra. If nobody’s around you will cry.”
“I will tell that above and beyond the words, everyday when we do shows we put a little music on the background. Every single pre-show, because it takes me about two hours to do the make-up and all that. Every day, that we are about to go to a show, what fires me up is the same thing that fired up Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin. Before that was a Zeppelin, you would put on that first Jeff Beck record, ‘Truth’ and then ‘Beck-Ola’, the second one. It’s just undeniable, nothing like it has been done before during or since. In fact, it’s fair to say that Jeff Beck Group began Led Zeppelin. I listen to it all the time. When he plays, unlike any other guitar players, I hum along with the solos. That’s the sound of greatness,” Gene Simmons said.
For Simmons, Beck took the Blues and turned up the volume
Jeff Beck was five years older than Gene and started his career at a young age in 1964. He first achieved fame as the guitarist of The Yardbirds, as the substitute for Eric Clapton. He stayed with the band for only one year and decided that it was time to move on. So he pursued the liberty of having his own career and making the kind of music that he wanted.
In 1968 he released his groundbreaking solo debut called “Truth”. That record also had Rod Stewart on vocals, Ronnie Wood playing bass and Micky Waller on the drums. This record is one of Gene’s favorite ones as he revealed in an interview with Talking Wax in 2021.
Talking with Music Radar in 2017, the bassist also listed that album was one that “blew his mind”. He said: “What a line-up! Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart on vocals, Ron Wood on bass. Ronnie’s a much better bass player than he is a guitarist.”
“There’s a rumor that Jimmy Page played on some of this, too. Even before Led Zeppelin and Cream, Beck took the blues and turned up the volume. But it wasn’t just decibels; Beck was pushing the envelope in all sorts of directions. Nuanced little jazz licks that caught you off guard… sophisticated, delicate melodies,” Gene Simmons said.