Gene Simmons Recalls How His Mother Reacted To Him Changing His Birth Name

During his recent interview with Talking Wax, KISS bassist Gene Simmons remembered the time when his mother Florence Klein learned that he changed his birth name and what his mother said about changing his name.

Gene Simmons’s birth name is Chaim Witz and he was born on August 25, 1949, in Israel as the son of Florence Klein and Ferenc Yehiel Witz. His mother Florence survived the Nazi concentration camps and lost every member of her family except her brother. Florence and Ferenc’s marriage didn’t last long and she raised his son as a single mother.

Simmons and his mother moved to New York when he was eight years old. He changed his name from Chaim to Gene after he had gone to New York and took his mother’s last name Klein because it was easier to pronounce for Americans. He continued his life as Gene Klein until he decided to find himself a stage name that was inspired by singer Jumpin’ Gene Simmons.

In his recent interview, the host asked Simmons what his mother said when she learned that his name was changed to Gene Simmons. He revealed his mother’s reaction by saying that she didn’t say or do anything but support his career and being his guide. Simmons also added that his mother was a very caring person and worked so hard for her family.

Simmons said in his interview that:

No, my mother was a remarkable human being. She was my moral compass. Anything I learned about life, hard work, all the important things… Not well educated, but her perspective was actually much more important to me than anybody else…

I’m only pausing because it’s very emotional for me. She was 14 years of age when she was in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, so she had points of view about life, hard work, never giving up, and only worrying about the important things.

Whether your room is a mess or whether you have a toy for Christmas, those are not important – your health is important. All those corny things your parents told you about, yeah, they were right, especially your mom. And your friends from school, they’re the fucking morons. You listen to them, ‘Hey, man, let’s go smoke cigarettes… Let’s get high… Let’s go do this.’ They’re idiots. They’re wrapping fish in some supermarket right now, and that’s fine too, you can do that job as well.”

He went on:

“All those high-school jocks who became football players and stuff, one out of a thousand made a career, the rest of them had nothing to fall back on and are working with their hands because they never developed their minds. My mother always stressed the important things – don’t get high, don’t drink, don’t smoke, work hard, surround yourself with people who are more successful and smarter than you are. That’s a good piece of advice.

Get rid of your loser friends, they’re vampires, they will suck the life out of you, they want things from you. Be around people who look better than you, go to better places, are smarter, you’ll have something to learn. You’ll learn nothing from the corner winos, nothing.”

You can watch the interview below.