PASADENA, Calif. – The flamboyant, Israeli-born rocker Gene Simmons has sent a televised message of support to am Israeli soldier seriously wounded in fighting in Lebanon, calling him his 'hero.'
Simmons, 57, founded the heavy metal band Kiss in the 1970s and became famous for wearing white and black face makeup, spitting fire and sticking his tongue out at sold-out elaborate performances.
Simmons, the band's bass player, was born Chaim Witz in the northern Israeli city of Haifa before emigrating to New York as a child.
Simmons sent a video message this week to Ron Weinreich, an Israeli soldier and die-hard Kiss fan, who was seriously wounded in Israel's 34-day fight with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Weinreich remains hospitalized and is paralyzed from the chest down. Above his hospital bed, a Kiss poster is spread across the wall.
Weinreich's brother had his wedding relocated this week to the hospital, so his brother could attend. At the wedding, the surprise recording was played.
"Hi Ron, this is Gene Simmons. I'm talking to you from my home. I can't tell you how proud I am of you, and how much the world and Israel owes you a debt of gratitude," he said. "From the bottom of my heart, you are a real hero, you are everybody's hero, you are my hero and I wish I could be there with you."
Suddenly switching to confident Hebrew, Simmons added: "My name is Chaim, I was born in Haifa."
He concluded by saying in English: "I wish you my best, a happy life and I hope the wedding comes off and everybody should honor you because you are a real hero."