December 13, 2004

The family of slain DAMAGEPLAN/ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott has requested a "Kiss Kasket" (photo) for Abbott to be buried in, KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons revealed during an appearance on Fox News' "The Big Story Weekend Edition with Rita Cosby" on Saturday (Dec. 11). The coffin features the faces of the four founding members of KISS, the KISS logo and the words "Kiss Forever". A transcript of Simmons' appearance on the program follows:

Rita Cosby: Gene, it's great to see you, my friend. I wish it was under better circumstances.

Gene Simmons: Thank you, thank you.

Cosby: Now, I understand there was something special. This just came down recently. Darrell Abbott's family requested something sort of special tied with your band. Tell us about it.

Simmons: Well, I wasn't really prepared to talk about it, but the family requested, as a personal issue between the family and the grieving people who are going to be there, to send a Kiss Kasket. We initially did it as a promotion. And you know, I think it meant a lot to Darrell when, you know — when he was alive, he gave lots of people great joy. I mean he had the band tattooed onto his chest. He was a major figure in rock and roll. He's going to be greatly missed. And the family wish — you know the one last wish they had was that he be buried in a Kiss Kasket. And I think it's a private matter for the family and the fans actually.

Cosby: No, and I think that's beautiful that that's happening, too, because I'm sure, it obviously, as you said, meant a lot to him. How big of a shock was this? You know this guy really was a legend and so well respected in the industry. How big of a shock was it to you, Gene, when you heard what happened?

Simmons: You know it's about as shocking as it can get. The unfortunate thing is that the media will tend to sort of look at the visuals, you know, the flying hair and the crazy look and all of the over- the-top stuff, which is what performing is all about. But people forget that underneath all of that, actually, Darrell was a very, very sweet guy, very upstanding, very quiet in his own way, immensely talented. PANTERA was a very, very important band. And I'm sure all the fans are going to miss him very much. I know I do.

We — KISS played at the stadium in Argentina and we invited PANTERA to join us. And it was one of the highlights of any of the tours we have ever played. Darrell was just a sweet guy.

Cosby: Gene, how vulnerable are you guys to fanatical fans like this mad man who did this horrible act?

Simmons: You know people often forget that the word "fan" actually comes from the word "fanatical". Most people are very nice. Most people respect your privacy. But here's no secret, most celebrities check into hotels under pseudonyms and the reason is not because I don't love the fans but because you've got to be able to keep everybody at arm's length because every once in a while you're going to get a nut job. The only justice, as far as I'm concerned is that this nut case is no longer around to do this to anybody else.

The unfortunate thing about the judicial system, if you'll allow me, is that, if he were caught, somebody would bring up the point he had a troubled childhood and that we should rehabilitate him. And I'm not a fan of that, I have to say. Whether he was troubled or not, if you resort to violence and you kill somebody, you should be taken off the face of the earth.

Cosby: No, and it is — absolutely, I agree with you. How do you protect yourself, Gene? I mean you talk about this balance — you got so many wonderful fans, you in particular, you know, folks — and you want to have that access, you want to have that one-on-one. But then there's that wild one all of a sudden who does something horrible. How do you find that balancing act?

Simmons: You've got to be able to separate the fact from the fiction, the stage histrionics from the private life. When you walk down the street, you've got to be aware that everybody is not necessarily your best friend and then — you know, sometimes somebody is going to have an ulterior motive, which is why when you check into a hotel, you have to do it under an assumed name. And when you go some place big and public and where there are lots of people, you've got to take security with you both for legal issues. I mean if I did something with this fist to somebody who was getting in my face —- and I'm 6-foot-2. I'm not shy. If you get in my face, I'll take you out. You literally can't do that. You've got to be able to have a buffer, somebody else between you and somebody who's — you know who's being improper.

Celebrity is not everything that everybody believes it is. It is a precarious position in life. But, you know we do it because we love it.

Cosby: And Gene Simmons, we love you and thank you so much for coming here and talking about this. We appreciate it.

Simmons: I just want to say one last thing, which is.

Cosby: Yes, real quick if you could, Gene.

Simmons: Our hearts and our best wishes go out to the family. He was a great guy. He's going to be sorely missed.

Cosby: Thank you, Gene, very much, and he definitely will. And we appreciate you're coming here. Thank you, Gene, very much.

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