Bob Dylan Wrote a Song With Gene Simmons After Saying KISS Fans Were Going to Hell

TL;DR:

  • Bob Dylan released religious music after converting to Christianity.
  • Bob Dylan said KISS fans were going to hell, but he later wrote a song with Gene Simmons.
  • Gene Simmons said he has always admired Bob Dylan as a lyricist.
Bob Dylan wears a bolo tie and stands with his hand on his hip. Gene Simmons plays guitar and sticks his tongue out.
Bob Dylan and Gene Simmons | Michael Kovac/WireImage; Paul Kane/Getty Images

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bob Dylan converted to Christianity and began to release overtly religious music. Not all of his fans were happy about this, and they made it clear during concerts. In response, Dylan made a comment about listening to KISS on the road to hell. Years after this, he seemed to have revised his opinion on the group when he wrote a song with its co-lead singer, Gene Simmons.

The ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ singer converted to Christianity 

In 1979, Dylan released Slow Train Coming, an album that explored religious themes. He was raised Jewish but converted to Christianity in the 1970s. 

“Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me,” he said, per the Independent, adding, “I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up.”

He preached about his new faith in his music and day-to-day life. Dylan would even pick up hitchhikers to discuss it

“Although he was one of the most well known musicians in the world, he was also the same as anyone who wanted to know more about God — full of eager questions and fresh excitement about his spiritual discoveries. He told us that he loved to pick up hitchhikers and tell them about Jesus,” Christian musician Melody Green wrote in the book No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green. “They never recognized him because they drove a beat-up old car and wore a knit ski hat over his famous curls.”

Bob Dylan wrote a song with Gene Simmons after making a judgmental comment about KISS fans

Dylan’s fans didn’t embrace the new direction of his music, and they made it clear to him during concerts. At one show, a fan yelled, “rock ‘n’ roll!” in a plea for Dylan to play his more popular songs. 

“If you want rock ‘n’ roll, you go down and rock ‘n’ roll,” he snapped back, per the Portland Mercury. “You can go and see KISS and you can rock ‘n’ roll all the way down to the pit!”

Years later, Dylan no longer seemed to think that listening to KISS would condemn people to burn in hellfire. He even wrote a song called “Waiting for the Morning Light” with Simmons. 

“Everybody buys lottery tickets. What are their chances of winning? Not much. So what? There is a chance you can win, and I’m like that,” Simmons said on Pulse of Radio (via The Statesman). “So I called his manager: ‘Can I speak with Bob?’ ‘What do you wanna talk to him about?’ ‘I … I wanna write a song with Bob.’ And all of a sudden, within two days, an unmarked van shows up at my house and Bob gets out with an acoustic guitar in his hand, and tells his driver, ‘I’ll see you at the end of the day,’ comes up and we start strumming. I mean it was just like that.”

Gene Simmons said he has always admired Bob Dylan

Simmons said that he had always admired Dylan as a lyricist.

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“Next to [Frank] Zappa one of the other pivotal people for me is Bob Dylan,” he told Louder Sound. “There’s certainly no greater lyricist in pop culture. But Dylan is classic poetry to me.”

Because of this, he said he would never forget the experience of writing with Dylan.