The Underrated Guitarist According to Gene Simmons

In the vibrant music scene of the 1970s, a band emerged that would forever change the face of rock and roll. KISS, formed in the heart of New York City in 1973 by Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss, not only left an indelible mark on their music but also revolutionized live performances. In this article, we delve into the fascinating journey of Kiss and the unsung hero, Ritchie Blackmore, the guitarist that Gene Simmons believes deserves more recognition.

KISS, although not the pioneer of using makeup, was the first to achieve staggering success by donning elaborate personas and delivering electrifying live shows. From 1983 to 1996, they briefly shed their iconic makeup, but the majority of their 50-year career was marked by this distinctive visual identity. Many fans may not realize that KISS has been rocking stages for over five decades, alongside giants like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath.

Gene Simmons, the bassist and singer of KISS, possessed a broad musical palate and a keen eye for the music industry. Beyond his musical prowess, he was known for his candor. In a candid moment, Simmons expressed his admiration for a guitarist he believed to be sorely underrated.

Despite being a band born in the United States, KISS drew significant inspiration from British music groups. Deep Purple, a British rock legend, particularly captivated Simmons, thanks to the extraordinary talents of their guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore. In an interview for the documentary “Ritchie Blackmore Story” released in 2015, Simmons made a fervent case for shining the spotlight on Blackmore as one of the greatest guitarists in history. He stated, “It’s a little tragic that Ritchie didn’t stand up and shine the light on himself. Which is why I’m happy to be here. He needs the light right on him. Because, unlike many people, he actually deserves it.”

Simmons continued, “You know, it bears noting that, for me, Ritchie Blackmore, unlike many guitar players, never lost his edge, if it were. ‘Burn’ is every bit as important as ‘Space Truckin” and some of the later stuff. You can actually hear a guitar player at the top of his game.” Simmons admired Blackmore’s unwavering commitment to music, saying, “It seems to me Ritchie Blackmore entered into this for the music.”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, established in 1983 in Cleveland, Ohio, has been a subject of controversy over the years. While it honors musical legends, it has also faced criticism for its selections. In a 2014 interview with Time, Gene Simmons voiced his opinion, including Deep Purple as one of the bands that deserved recognition. He remarked, “The Hall of Fame award is important because it is important to the fans. But otherwise, it means nothing to me. It’s a political organization made up of ten guys.”

Simmons went on to reveal, “A few of them are good guys. But I know for a fact that some members voted to keep Deep Purple and the Dave Clark Five and great rock bands out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And get Run DMC and other hip hop acts into the Hall of Fame.” KISS eventually found their place in the Hall of Fame in 2014, thanks to guitarist Tom Morello, while Deep Purple had to wait until 2016 to be inducted, with Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, doing the honors.

As we reflect on the journey of KISS, Gene Simmons’ admiration for Ritchie Blackmore, and the controversies of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, one thing becomes clear: the world of rock music is a diverse and fascinating tapestry, woven with the stories of talented musicians who have left an indelible mark on our hearts and souls.


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