Gene Simmons touched upon the importance of Jews in modern culture during a new chat with American Songwriter. Simmons, the son of a Nazi concentration camp survivor, whose father served on the weekends in the Israeli army, was born Chaim Witz in Tirat Carmel, Israel and only moved to the U.S. at the age of eight.
Simmons spoke about the crucial role Jews played in the creation of rock n' roll, explaining, "The real secret that’s not widely talked about is that it was Jews — y'know, originally, it was race music. Black music was not allowed to be heard on white radio. And it was really the Jews — (Jerry) Leiber and (Mike) Stoller, who wrote, 'You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog' and 'Give me fever in the morning,' all that black music. The Coasters and Ben E. King and all that, written by two Jews. Two Jews who couldn’t stand Broadway and that kind of schmaltzy music that the other Jews were doing. They loved black music and they were responsible for a lot of the black music that came out there. Elvis (Presley), Big Momma Thornton, and all that. "
He went on to say, "The truth is that if it wasn’t for Sam Phillips and a lot of the other guys, early rock ‘n’ roll, including Elvis, would have never happened. It was these Jews who owned the record companies that opened the doors to black music. Sam Phillips recorded Bo Diddley and lots of other stuff while the rest of the record companies would never touch them."
Simmons said he learned to acclimate to the American way of life by reading comic books, adding, "By the way, it’s worth noting, that all the superheroes were created by Jews. Yes, they were. Yup — Superman, Batman, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Human Torch, Sub Mariner, Captain America — Jews created it. Jack Kirby? Not his real name. Jacob Kurtzberg. Stan Lee? Stanley Lieber. And Bob Cane was actually 'Kahn.'"
He recalled that the mixture of comics and rock helped define him: "When I heard rock, words like 'you ain’t,' which was considered vulgar, I heard how people actually spoke. The best teachers I had were rock n' roll and comic books."
Gene Simmons recalled his life with his mother in Israel prior to emigrating to America: ["My father left us when I was about six or seven, and one day, a box came in. It was a cardboard box. Later on I figured out it was a care package. I picked up my first can of food. It was canned peaches, I had never seen a can, y'know, we didn't even have a toilet when I was growing up. And she opened it up with a knife, y'know, she had to break through it, opened up, and I remember tasting those canned peaches — sweetest things I ever had. And all of a sudden I had the idea that somebody cared. And once I grew up I promised myself, I gotta make a difference. You can't go through life and die and leave things the way they are."] SOUNDCUE (:37 OC: . . . way they are)
Gene Simmons On Early Days In Israel :