Hey there, Campers!
Did you know that well over a hundred of our favorite celebrities have spent at least a summer or two at summer camp? I’ll bet you’re just about ready to camp out all night and party every day! Well, Gene Simmons was when he was your age!
That’s right! Today I’ll be telling you about the amazing Gene Simmons from Kiss who went to Surprise Lake Camp in Cold Spring, New York. Surprise Lake Camp (SLC) was founded in 1902 and seems to have frozen time in that spot since it first started. The site is beautiful, the people are good, and the program is great!
Look what it did for Gene Simmons—the popular rock star from the hairband era! Along with Kiss, Gene Simmons has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide! Few people know that Gene was actually born Chaim (pronounced Hi-um) Witz in 1949, Israel.
It wasn’t until he was eight-years-old that he, along with his mother, Florence, immigrated to Queens in New York City. As they both began to blend into the United States, Chaim had his name changed to Eugene Klein which later became Gene Simmons.
Before beginning his musical career, Gene went to summer camp (obviously) and had a number of jobs throughout the New York City area as assistant to an editor for Vogue Magazine as well as a sixth-grade instructor on the Upper West Side.
When Gene did get involved with his first band, he got very into it. Lynx, then renamed The Missing Links was Gene’s first band. It didn’t last very long. After that he formed The Long Island Sounds. In Community College, Gene joined a new band—Bullfrog Bheer. The band recorded a demo but never got much further than that.
In the early 70’s, Gene formed the rock band Wicked Lester with Paul Stanley which produced one album that never got released. Still unhappy with their band, Wicked Lester did not survive. But after that Gene and Paul Stanley set out to form the ultimate rock band.
After finding Peter Criss and Ace, Kiss was formed. A true rags to riches story, Gene was never afraid of a little hard work and persistence which ultimately led to one of the most popular rock bands of all time.
Till next time, Campers!