JOHN 5 Says He Got The Very Last Photo Of KISS's GENE SIMMONS With His Iconic 'Demon' Makeup On

January 21, 2024

In a new interview with Steve Black of "Chop Shop", guitar wizard John 5 — a huge KISS fan and an avid memorabilia collector of the band — spoke about attending the legendary rockers' final concert ever, which took place on December 2, 2023 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I really wanted to go to the show. And I just got home from Australia [from touring with MÖTLEY CRÜE] and I was, like, 'God, the last…' That flight to Australia is so long; it's, like — I don't know — 126 hours or something like that. So, I got home and the KISS show was right around the corner. So I was, like, 'Okay' — I don't know — I was really exhausted and everything. And I was kind of like bumming around the house, a little depressed and stuff, so my wife said, 'Get in an Uber. [We're] going to the airport. You're going to the show.' So she surprised me."

He continued: "I took a really late flight and got to New York at six in the morning and was just loving it and looking at all the stuff and blah blah blah, having a good time. [I] got to the show, and it was the very last show. And it was emotional for me, because I was, like, 'This is the last time they're playing 'Detroit Rock City' and 'Shout It Out Loud' and 'Love Gun'; it's the last time they're gonna play these songs with makeup. So, it was an incredible experience.

"But here's something really cool," John 5 added. "At the end of the show, I was at the soundboard, and I was waiting for everyone to leave, and everyone's going [one] way and I was gonna go [the opposite] way and I was gonna leave through the little backstage area. So I was making my way through. And it took a while for people to leave and stuff like that. So it was a good 20 minutes — I was just sitting there and saying hello to people. And so I finally get there, and I'm going back there and I see [KISS bassist/vocalist] Gene [Simmons]. And he's, like, 'John, John.' And I go over to him and talk with him and I thank him for all the music and the memories and all that stuff. And we just chatted for a while, and we took a picture. And then I watched him go in his dressing room. And I was talking to a couple of people and the door opens in and out with crew people coming in and out and I could see him taking his stuff [makeup and stage clothes] off. And I was, like, 'Did I just get the last picture of Gene Simmons with makeup on?', from the last show. And it's on my Instagram. And it was something very special."

John 5's KISS collection reportedly includes clothing, promotional items and merchandise that was originally made available between 1973 and 1983. The guitarist showcases this massive collection in an Instagram account dedicated solely to it, named "Knights In Satan's Service."

In an interview with Ultimate Guitar's Justin Beckner, John 5 said that the most valuable item in his KISS collection is Simmons's costume from 1974. "That was like his first costume, and you would know it well if you saw it; you would know it right away," he said. "It's on the cover of 'Hotter Than Hell'. I mean, it's been in a zillion pictures. It's the one with the skull and crossbones on his back, and he's got the bat wings, and he only had one. Now they have multiple costumes, just in case something happens, but they were very poor back then, and he would carry this costume on the subway with him. I guess that would be my favorite piece."

Asked if he got the costume right from Gene, John 5 responded: "Actually, yes. They had a big auction back in the day. So there's quite a collection, and it is a part of history. I mean, KISS is almost like this… the makeup and the logos are almost as recognizable as McDonald's."

Later this month, John 5 will embark on a tour with his solo band THE CREATURES. Support acts on the trek, which will kick off on January 26, 2024, at The Observatory in Santa Ana, California and wrap up on March 1, 2024 at The Observatory North Park in San Diego, California, will include former MEGADETH guitarist Marty Friedman, LILIAC, Jared James Nichols, Nikki Stringfield and VAN HALEN tribute act THE ATOMIC PUNKS.

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