Gene Simmons

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Is rock music dead? Yes, says Gene Simmons, the outspoken bassist and vocalist of iconic band KISS.

The 65-year-old rocker's son Nick Simmons, 25, who co-starred with him and the rest of their family on the A&E reality show Gene Simmons: Family Jewels for seven seasons, interviewed him for a recent Esquire magazine interview that has since gone viral on social media, especially among rock fans who have lamented the decreased popularity of their favorite music genre.

Gene maintains record companies were more supportive, financially, of rock artists when he was "coming up" in the music world.

"There are still record companies, and it does apply to pop, rap, and country to an extent," he said. "But for performers who are also songwriters — the creators — for rock music, for soul, for the blues — it's finally dead."

"Rock is finally dead," he added. "I am so sad that the next 15-year-old kid in a garage someplace in Saint Paul, that plugs into his Marshall and wants to turn it up to 10, will not have anywhere near the same opportunity that I did."

Gene Simmons, Tongue

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Simmons has expressed pessimism about the future of rock before and made similar comments to the U.K.-based TeamRock Radio station in October 2013, citing a "kid in Brighton in his mother's garage, who starts to turn up his Marshall amp and starts to strum."

Gene's band, known for its lavish stage makeup, formed in 1973 and released hits such as "Rock and Roll All Nite" and "Detroit Rock City." KISS has toured continuously over the years, most recently with fellow veteran rock group Def Leppard, which was most popular in the ‘80s.

"The death of rock was not a natural death," Gene said in the Esquire interview. "Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered. And the real culprit is that kid's 15-year-old next-door neighbor, probably a friend of his. Maybe even one of the bandmates he's jamming with."

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While music consumers mostly purchased entire albums decades ago, sometimes just to be able to listen to one song, nowadays tunes are downloaded and streamed individually, including legally, via services such as iTunes, Pandora and Spotify.

"The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing because there's a copy left behind for you — it's not that copy that's the problem, it's the other one that someone received but didn't pay for," Gene said.

"You're better off not even learning how to play guitar or write songs, and just singing in the shower and auditioning for The X Factor," he added. "And I'm not slamming The X Factor, or pop singers. But where's the next Bob Dylan? Where's the next Beatles? Where are the songwriters? Where are the creators?"

(Pictured below: Gene Simmons appears with partner Shannon Tweed and daughter Sophie Simmons on the FOX show The X Factor on Sept. 26, 2012.)

THE X FACTOR, Sophie Simmons, Shannon Tweed, Gene Simmons

Ray Mickshaw/ FOX

For years, the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart has been dominated by pop, country pop, dance, R&B and rap music. As of Saturday, the list of top artists includes pop stars Taylor Swift, who is No. 1 with her new pop hit "Shake It Off," and Ariana Grande, rappers Nicki Minaj andIggy Azalea and "Stay With Me" crooner Sam Smith. Rock and pop band Maroon 5, led by Adam Levine, is No. 11 with "Maps."

Spotify's "Top Hits" offerings on Saturday included songs by GrandeJessie J as well as pop stars Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran and rapper Wiz Khalifa.

Nineteen out of KISS' 20 studio albums are currently available on Spotify, which offers a premium paid subscription service. Like in radio, each time a song is streamed, its band or artist gets paid. According to BusinessInsider.com, the sum can be as small as 0.6 cents per song.

KISS, which retains a huge and loyal fan base, last appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart in 1990, reaching No. 81 with "Rise to It." The group's hit power ballad "Forever," also released that year, reached No. 8 and remains of their highest-charting singles of their 20-year career. 

The MTV Video Music Awards have changed over the years as well to reflect popular music taste. The most recent show featured R&B singer Beyoncé as its big closing act and two rock bands—Maroon 5 and 5 Seconds of Summer—out of 10 performing acts.

The 2004 VMAs: Four rock bands out of 14 performers—JetHoobastankYellowcard and The Polyphonic Spree.

The 1994 VMAs: Nine rock music performers out of 12 total—Bruce SpringsteenAerosmithThe Smashing PumpkinsThe Rolling StonesGreen DayThe Leningrad CowboysTom Petty and the HeartbreakersStone Temple Pilots and hip-hop rock trio the Beasie Boys. In addition, the show featured a tribute to Kurt Cobain, who died earlier that year.

He received another tribute earlier this year when his band, Nirvana, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The other inductees included pop rock duo Hall & Oates and KISS.

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