Gene SimmonsIt's a long way from playing to 20,000 screaming fans in Detroit Rock City, but KISS co-founder and bassist Gene Simmons made sure his message to the 60-or-so suits in a Beverly Hills conference room was clear, if not quite as loud.

"At the end of the day, you need to think about three important things: mental health, physical health and financial health," Simmons said on Tuesday, speaking to the British American Business Council of Los Angeles (BABC LA) at Beverly Hills' Peninsula Hotel. "I'm in the highest tax bracket. What are my choices in life?"

Plenty of Green Behind the Black-and-White Makeup

Simmons was pitching Cool Springs Life Equity Strategy, a financial advisory group he joined last year to help broaden their client base and attract members of the well-heeled entertainment industry. The Franklin, Tenn.-based company, whose co-founders include former Transamerica executives David Carpenter and Simon Baitler, specializes in asset protection to individuals with a net worth of more than $20 million. More specifically, Cool Springs, among other things, secures large life insurance policies with little or no cash outlay by arranging for low-interest loans to pay the premiums.

It may seem like an odd fit for Simmons, who's far better known for his fake-blood-spitting, on-stage "Demon" alter ego than for his financial acumen. But Simmons has never made any bones about making sure there was plenty of green behind his group's the black-and-white face paint.

KISS, which has sold more than 100 million CDs and DVDs, was hawking band-themed merchandise, ranging from lunch boxes to toy dolls, as far back as the 1970s. The group, which Simmons co-founded in 1973, holds merchandising licenses to more than 3,000 items.

A Rock-and-Roll Success Story

"I didn't buy my first car until I was 34. . . . I didn't buy my first house until I was 36," Simmons said in an interview with DailyFinance. "Why do you need them when you're always on the road? I lived with my mother until I was about 20. You wanna go out and have some privacy? You go to a hotel."

His approach is a far cry from the dozens of well-known artists who have may have sold tens of millions of albums, yet found themselves in financially precarious situations because of questionable record deals, overspending or financial mismanagement. For every Paul McCartney -- whose net worth was reported last year by U.K.'s Sunday Times to be almost three-quarters of a billion dollars -- or Bruce Springsteen, who according to Forbes earned $70 million in 2009, almost three decades after his first album release, there's a Billy Joel or TLC -- acts that declared bankruptcy in the midst of their popularity because of bad record deals or management. Then, there's Michael Jackson, who was reportedly about $400 million in debt when he died in 2009.

All of which made Simmons a natural choice for Samuel Watson. The Cool Springs CEO was looking for a partner famous enough to appeal to high-net-worth individuals in the entertainment industry -- an industry Watson had little access to -- yet financially savvy enough to pitch Cool Springs' services with a sense of authority. Dressed in dark shades and a suit jacket, Simmons preached financial responsibility to the BABC audience for about an hour Tuesday morning. He then gladly posed for pictures with many of the women in the audience after the presentation.

"I needed a marketing machine, and if you were to define 'marketing machine,' Gene Simmons's picture would be there," said Watson. "There's not a door he can't open."


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March 13 2011 at 8:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tresboonekhood

rock & roll over

March 10 2011 at 3:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
marknjay

GENE SIMMONS is a pure genius....stayed on top in the 70,s and 80,s....banked his wad of money...make good investments....remarkable as to what hes accomplished in his life....his family is super sweet....he deserves every penny hes made....not to mention he does not drink nor do drugs....

March 10 2011 at 1:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sam Das

jimall3...why are you asking a question which is self explanatory. You know the answer.

March 09 2011 at 11:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
sunnydawn95

I'm still trying to figure out what's the big deal about this man. I grew up with KISS in the 80's and I didn't see it then either. I watched his show a couple times with my kid and he acts so conceited and he loved to brag about all of his sexcapades. His woman must be a saint to put up with him.

March 09 2011 at 7:46 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
debbie

Nice to see someone in this position talk about something really important for a change. Notice he does not dismiss his wealth, but talks about what to do with it for the good. Way to go !!!!

March 09 2011 at 6:54 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
carriebnarry

This is a good man. I've read some of his history all the way from Israel to Kiss and this is a good man. I'd love to shake his hand one day. Cher talked about how great he was to her child and what a good man he is. I wish him well on this new company and I'm sure success will continue to follow him down this road.

March 09 2011 at 5:46 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
King Dave

well we all know Jews are good with money.

March 09 2011 at 4:54 PM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
muenft

He is just a pitch man for what ever he is selling today...mens perfume, kiss trinkets. having the camera follow him arund the house,,whatever. But at least he is out there making money for himself and not waiting for a big barrack obama check in the mail like the unions that bank rolled that imposter.
He is out there making money in the purest israeli tradition

March 09 2011 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Angela

He's so funny. But if part of his "estate planning" advice is to NOT marry your partner of over 20 years, the mother of your children, then please exit to your left.

March 09 2011 at 1:15 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply