A couple of weeks ago, Gene Simmons said some harsh things about addiction, depression and suicide in an interview. This week, in light of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide on Monday after struggling with addiction and depression, those things sounded even more harsh.
Friday found Simmons apologizing for what he’d said.
“I don’t get along with anybody who’s a drug addict and has a dark cloud over their head and sees themselves as a victim,” the KISS bassist and singer told Songfacts when asked if he still got along with the band’s original members.
“Drug addicts and alcoholics are always: ‘The world is a harsh place.’ My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear ... all about ‘the world as a harsh place.’ She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life. And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say, ‘I’m depressed, I live in Seattle.’ ... then kill yourself.”
It’s one thing to say that “in the heat of an interview,” as Simmons would write later on his Facebook page -- another to have those quotes surface when a beloved performer’s apparent suicide has public attention focused on the issue of depression. (Songfacts’ July 31 interview is in fact rather lengthy; the comments quoted in this article constitute about one-tenth of it.)
“I never understand, because I always call them on their bluff. I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’ when there’s a guy on top of a building who says, ‘That’s it, I can’t take it anymore, I’m going to jump,’” Simmons continued. “Are you kidding? Why are you announcing it? Shut ... up, have some dignity and jump! You’ve got the crowd.
“By the way, you walk up to the same guy on a ledge who threatens to jump and put a gun to his head, ‘I’m going to blow your ... head off!’ He’ll go, ‘Please don’t!’ It’s true. He’s not that insane.”
Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx was among those offended, saying on his Sixx Sense radio show (via Metal Insider), “I like Gene, but in this situation, I don’t like Gene.”
“I’m a recovering drug addict,” the rocker said. “If I had done what Gene Simmons said and that is to jump, so many wonderful things would have not happened in my life. We’ve just lost Robin Williams. He dealt with drug addiction and mainly depression. When I was young, I was depressed, drugs helped me suppress that. I came from a messed up situation, not unlike a lot of people.”
Sixx worried about that a 20-year-old Kiss fan might read that and decide, “‘He’s right. I should just kill myself.’”
Simmons took to Facebook to clarify his comments and state his views on depression.
“To the extent my comments reported by the media speak of depression, I was wrong and in the spur of the moment made remarks that in hindsight were made without regard for those who truly suffer the struggles of depression,” he said, apologizing and expressing empathy for those “suffering from any disease, especially depression.”
He noted, however, that he’s never held back when it comes to drug and alcohol addiction.
“Somewhere along the line, my intention of speaking in very directly and perhaps politically incorrectly about drug use and alcoholics has been misconstrued as vile commentary on depression. Unkind statements about depression was certainly never my intention,” Simmons said.
He concluded: “I simply want to be clear that my heart goes out to anyone suffering from depression and I deeply regret any offhand remarks in the heat of an interview that might have suggested otherwise.”