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Radio stations ban Gene Simmons music after controversial suicide comments

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March 10, 2014: Musician Gene Simmons of rock band KISS attends a news conference to announce his part-ownership of Arena Football League team, the Los Angeles Kiss, in Anaheim, California. (Reuters)

Gene Simmons is known for his outrageous remarks, but it seems this time the KISS musician may have crossed the line. In an interview with Songfacts.com at the end of last month, Simmons suggested that those who suffer with depression should kill themselves, sparking outrage.

Several radio stations, including Power97 and BobFM in Canada declared that they will no longer play KISS music, as did leading Australian station Triple M – which owns five metropolitan stations across the country. As the fallout continues, New York’s longtime WPYX DJ Uncle Vito has too joined the fray in banning Simmons’s songs.  

The hashtag “#BanGene” has also sprung up on social media, generating hundreds of angry tweets such as “as a sufferer of depression & long time listener I love seeing the stand that @Power97 is taking against crapbags like Gene Simmons,” and “Gene Simmons comments made me want to throw up.” One person even went as far as to say that he “may have just destroyed his career with one comment.”

“Why share thoughts like that on such a touchy topic? wrong wrong wrong,” the tweeter continued.

The rocker has shut down his Twitter account, and his rep did not respond to a request for further comment.

Simmons did, however, take to his Facebook page to make an apology noting that he was “wrong and in the spur of the moment made remarks that in hindsight were made with without regard for those who truly suffer the struggles of depression.”

“I have never sugarcoated my feelings regarding drug use and alcoholics. 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,” he added. “Unkind statements about depression were certainly never my intention.”

In the controversial interview, Simmons said that he was “the guy who says ‘jump!’ when there’s a guy on the building, after suggesting that drug addicts and alcoholics always think the world is a harsh place.

“My mother was in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany. I don’t want to hear f**k all about ‘the world is a harsh place.’ She gets up every day, smells the roses and loves life,” he said. “And for a putz, 20-year-old kid to say ‘I’m depressed, I live in Seattle,’ f**k you then kill yourself.”

But on the flipside, some have expressed support over Simmons’s right to freedom of speech.

“This #BanGene is just cultural Marxism for dummies. Self-serving censorship,” one wrote, as another weighed in:  “Democracy and freedom are nothing without free speech whether you agree with it or not.”

Simmons’s comments came to light as the world was mourning the death of prominent comedian Robin Williams, who took his own life last Monday amid a longtime struggle with depression and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. However, Simmons – who gave the interview a couple of weeks before Williams died – did tweet “RIP a kind and generous man” along with a suicide prevention hotline number on the day of his passing.

But his words still caught the ire of Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx, who condemned Simmons on both his radio show and later over Twitter, pondering whether the rocker would still say how depressed people or addicts should kill themselves if it happened to his wife or kids.

“I struggled with addiction and depression but found recovery,” Sixx continued. “Would you be happy if I killed myself instead? Also my four kids wouldn’t be born.”

Follow @holliesmckay on Twitter.

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