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Could you imagine heavy metal without Kiss? They brought a level of theatricality to the genre which paved the way for a whole host of artists, from GWAR to Rob Zombie to Marilyn Manson. Although they might not be as respected as Ludwig van Beethoven, they’ve certainly had a huge impact.

However, impactful artists don’t always value their own work. Gene Simmons has been outspoken for much of his career. This raises a question: Is Simmons a fan of Kiss?

Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley of Kiss | Ginny Winn/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

What Gene Simmons has to say about Kiss

Simmons knows how to market Kiss. The group is one of the most valuable brands in the history of rock music. Just because a band is a brand doesn’t mean that they can’t make great music. After all, the Beatles continue to be merchandised beyond belief.

Simmons, who’s often accused of being an egoist by his detractors, actually seems to have a low opinion of his own group. According to Intellectual Property and Information Rights for Librarians, Simmons asserted “Kiss is a brand, not a band.” He dismisses the band more than many of its fiercest critics – some of the time.

Gene Simmons performing in full Kiss regalia at the Beverly Hilton Hotel | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for Race To Erase MS

In a Rolling Stone interview, he seemed to have a somewhat higher opinion of his band. Simmons seemed to say the peak years for music were from 1958 to 1988. He said “You can play the game, 1958 until 1988 is thirty years, Elvis, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Madonna, Prince, [Michael] Jackson, U2, AC/DC, [and] maybe Kiss.” It’s not clear if the acts he was listing were his favorite from that period or the most popular from that period. Either way, he thinks Kiss might make the cut, but he showed a little hesitancy to put his band on the same level as Elvis Presley or Madonna.

What do critics think of the band?

Kiss might not be as poetic as other bands. However, they sure know their way around a good rock hook. While they weren’t very respected during their initial run. Critical attitudes towards the band seem to be changing.

Kiss’s Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Ace Frehley getting inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame | Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Chuck Klosterman is perhaps the most revered music critic working today. He wrote an article where he revealed Kiss is his favorite band. Not just a band he likes, but his favorite band. He said it’s impossible to simply like Kiss without loving them.

On top of that, Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has had its share of controversies over the years, with many fans feeling it has failed to induct many deserving artists. However, Kiss’s inclusion in the Hall indicates there’s been a sea change in the way the band is perceived. Maybe Simmons isn’t a huge Kiss fan – but a lot of tastemakers are.

Also see: These Classic Rock Bands Are Still Touring