Eddie Van Halen always played the role of a “bitch slap” in Gene Simmons’ life, the Kiss members said as he paid tribute to his late friend.

In a recent interview with Classic Rock, Simmons recounted how he tried and failed to sign Van Halen into the Kiss organization and how the younger band’s later success gave him the chance to tell his bandmates, “I told you so, you morons.”

Simmons recalled that his "final meeting [with Van Halen] was in Los Angeles. We bumped into each other on Sunset Boulevard. He was already deeply affected by cancer. I had read that he blamed his condition on using a metal guitar pick, putting it in his mouth. In my view that wasn’t the case. Ed smoked all the time.”

As a result, Simmons admitted he wasn’t sure what to say. "He brought it up at the start of the conversation: ‘Hey, man, how you doing? I’ve got cancer.’ I was embarrassed and wanted to reach out and hug him," he explained. "But standing there on the street with a cigarette in his hand, he opened his mouth and smiled: ‘Check this out,’ inviting me to look at the space where his upper palette should have been. He just shrugged: ‘I’ve got this disease - watcha gonna do? I’ll see you around.’

“It was typical Ed: happy-go-lucky … he never said a bad word about others. Eddie didn’t badmouth rival bands. He conducted himself with a shrug of the shoulders. He reminded me of Charlie Chaplin: At the end of a movie he could be left with nothing, tattered and torn, and he’d walk off down the road with nonchalance.”

Simmons noted, “That part of his character was always a bitch slap to me, with my big ego. I’m full of myself and I love the sound of my own voice. Spending time in the presence of Edward made me think, ‘I should probably stop this.’ You know, give up the airs and stupid stuff and just concentrate on being a human being.”

Describing Van Halen as “a lover of life” who always had a smile ready, Simmons added, “As much as his death was upsetting, it also made me a little furious that so many of our so-called younger generation remain unaware of his talents. For fuck’s sake, parents should be slapping mobile phones out of their kids’ hands and telling them to check out this guy. Our millennials need to know about the most important musician since Jimi Hendrix. There will never be another like him.”

Van Halen Lineup Changes

Three different singers and two different bassists joined the Van Halen brothers over the years.

More From US 103.1 FM