Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz on August 25, 1949) is an Israeli-born American hard rock bass guitarist and vocalist. He is best known as "The Demon", his blood-spitting, fire-breathing, and tongue-wagging persona in the hard rock band Kiss, an act which he co-founded in the early 1970s.
Simmons was born in Israel, and at the age of eight he immigrated to New York City, United States, with his mother Florence Klein—a Jewish Hungarian immigrant and the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust. His father, Feri Witz, had abandoned his family years earlier. When Simmons was young, (as he has discussed on Gene Simmons Family Jewels, a reality-based television program on the American cable network A&E), his mother's long absences while working two jobs in order to make ends meet left emotional scars which left him with a strong desire for wealth. After arriving in the U.S., he took the name Eugene Klein (later Gene Klein, Klein being his mother's maiden name). In the late-1960s, he changed his name again, to Gene Simmons.
Simmons became involved with his first band, Lynx, then renamed The Missing Links, when he was a teenager. Eventually he disbanded The Missing Links to form the Long Island Sounds. While he played in these bands, he kept up odd jobs on the side to make more money, including making fanzines and buying used comic books. Simmons then attended Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, New York. He then joined a new band Bullfrog Beer, and the band made a demo, "Leeta", which was eventually released on the Kiss box set in demo form.