Gene Simmons says that he had candid discussions with Layne Staley and Scott Weiland about their drug use years before they died.
The KISS bassist/vocalist, who claims he has never used drugs or drunk alcohol, spoke about the conversations he had with the late ALICE IN CHAINS and STONE TEMPLE PILOTS singers during a recent interview with Meltdown of Detroit, Michigan's WRIF 101.1 FM radio station.
Recalling KISS's biggest-ever concert in Detroit, which happened during the band's reunion tour in 1996, Simmons said (hear audio below): "The saddest part of all was that the Tiger Stadium show was originally gonna have STONE TEMPLE PILOTS opening up.
"I met Weiland at a club and I said to him, 'Look, you've gotta be straight, cut it out with all the heroin and the crap, respect the fans, get up un stage, do a great show, it's all yours. We'll support you, but I want you clean on stage.'
"[He told me] 'Gene, I promise!' It's like what anybody who's a drug addict and alcoholic says. 'I've been clean for a million years,' and stuff. And then he died.
"And I had the same conversation with Layne. Right before they went up on stage [in Detroit, where they supported KISS], I said, 'Layne, here they are, they're fans, they're lined up, it's all yours. Just go out there and do great.' 'Gene, I have been straight, I straightened up,' and all that. And then he died."
Simmons went on to say that he has had the same talk with other musicians over the years. "And I don't believe it [when they tell me they have beaten their addictions]," he said. "If you were an alcoholic or a drug addict, you're gonna be that for the rest of your life. And that's what they tell you in AA and other organizations — that every day it's gonna be a decision. You're gonna have to make that decision to be straight or ruin your life and hurt everybody around you.
"But what I'm saying, of course, is not [considered] cool. You're supposed to get wasted and [say] 'hope I die before I get old' and all that stuff," he added.
Gene revealed that his next book, titled "27", will be "about all the sadness with these people who killed themselves. Frances Bean, Kurt Cobain's daughter, is friends with my son, they hang out," he said. "You should read the quotes she does in the media. 'Hey, it's real cool your father dies while you're still a baby from drugs.' No, it ain't. It sucks."
Speaking in more detail about the inspiration for his upcoming book, Simmons said: "You'd be shocked at how deep this runs mysteriously. But, again, it's not about the idea that it's 27, although we ask that question: 'Why then? Why not 28? Why not 30?' and all that. But it's really about when you become rich and famous and everybody admires you, what is that thing that makes people destroy themselves, even to die? What is that?
"The rest of the world adores you and your fans love you and they give you money and fame and all that, and then you kill yourself. I don't get it."
Gene went on to reiterate that he has "literally never been high or drunk" in his life, "other than [while sitting] in a dentist chair. And that's because of my mother," he explained. "My mother was 14 years of age when she was in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, and she had a horrific life. And what right do I have to torture her and make her unhappy? No, that's never gonna happen."
Simmons also denied that he has ever been tempted to turn to alcohol or drugs for solace while dealing with the pressures of being on tour.
"What temptations?" he said. "If you drink enough, your equipment won't work. If you get high, trust me, you're not gonna be witty or look cool. No, there's nothing about that. We've gotta tear down this stupid fascination with it; it's self-destructive.
"What's happening with opioids is killing everybody," he continued. "No, there's nothing cool about that. I'll tell you what's cool — somebody who arches their back, stands up straight and says, 'Every day above ground is a good day. Now watch me burn rubber.' That's cool."
Staley died of a drug overdose in 2002. He was 34 years old.
Weiland was found dead of a drug and alcohol overdose on his tour bus in December 2015, while on the road with his solo band THE WILDABOUTS. He was 48.