Music | August 22, 2021 12:52 pm

Gene Simmons and David Lee Roth’s Feud Involves Elvis References and a Lot of Middle Fingers

As musical feuds go, this one's pretty minor

Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons of KISS performs onstage during the Tribeca Festival screening of "Biography: KISStory" at Battery Park on June 11, 2021 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for A&E

For decades now, both Gene Simmons and David Lee Roth have been icons of a certain swaggering strain of rock music. Simmons is best known for his work with KISS; for Roth, he’s had both an impressive solo career and a career-making period as Van Halen’s vocalist. Before the pandemic, Roth was opening for KISS’s farewell tour. The tour is back on now, but Roth is no longer the opener. And that seems to be where the trouble began.

As Ultimate Classic Rock reports, Simmons explained Roth’s absence from the tour in less-than-glowing terms. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Simmons didn’t hold back.

“[Roth] took being a frontman way beyond anything. And then, I don’t know what happened to him … something. And you get modern-day Dave,” Simmons said. “I prefer to remember Elvis Presley in his prime. Sneering lips, back in Memphis, you know, doing all that. I don’t want to think of bloated naked Elvis on the bathroom floor.”

Roth took to Instagram with a succinct response — a photo of a child with middle finger extended and the text “Roth to Simmons:”.

He then posted it 18 times.

Which sounds gloriously petty, and also a relatively appropriate response to someone who’d just compared you to dead Elvis. As of yet, there’s been no response on Simmons’s Twitter feed, which has largely focused on Tweets about the importance of being vaccinated, dispatches from the road and thoughts on cryptocurrency. As musical feuds go, it’s an odd one — but entertaining as well.