Son’s admission made rock star Gene change views on clinical depression
Jewish Telegraph, October 2018
ROCK star Gene Simmons caused controversy four years ago with comments about mental health issues.
But thanks to his son Nick, his new book, 27: The Legend And Mythology Of The 27 Club (Powerhouse Books), will not add fuel to the fire.
The Kiss founder, born Chaim Witz, was forced to apologise in 2014 for comments including that when he sees someone threatening to jump from a building, “I’m the guy who says ‘Jump!’”
In his apology, he said: “I recognise that depression is very serious and very sad when it happens to anyone, especially loved ones. I deeply support and am empathetic to anyone suffering from any disease, especially depression.”
In the introduction to his new book — which looks at musicians who died at the age of 27, including Amy Winehouse — Israeli-born Simmons reveals that Nick’s own admission that he was suffering from clinical depression affected him.
The 69-year-old, who claims never to have been drunk or taken drugs, writes: “Sometimes it takes someone that you love to explain things to you before you can believe they are real.
“That was my first encounter with this strange thing, clinical depression, that I actually considered to be authentic.”
He added: “Once I realised my son was part of this thing, it made me regret things I had said publicly and its related issues.
“I have been harsh because I didn’t believe that people could be sick in that way. I believed it was a matter of willpower, a matter of character flaws, and I suspect many in my generation will feel this way.”
Simmons, who recently announced Kiss’s final world tour, said that after speaking to Nick, who helped edit the book, he decided its goal should not be “to chastise people or project my own views, but to simply understand — to dive deeply into the lives of these icons whose work I loved, from the perspective of a fellow musician, a fellow public figure and a fan.”
He continued: “I want this to be an olive branch to people whose choices I don’t necessarily approve of.”
Simmons writes that his own addictions — “attention, accolades, success, validation, even chocolate cake” — have helped him understand drug and alcohol abuse.
As well as Winehouse, Simmons, the son of a Holocaust survivor, also looks at the lives and deaths of Brian Jones, of the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Jim Morrison, as well as others who died around that age.
Simmons says his anger around Winehouse’s death is aimed at the “system of enablers around someone like Winehouse, especially toward her ex-husband (Blake Fielder Civil), who participated in the ‘drug trend’ . . . it undermined the real friends that tried to help her”.