Famous Immigrant of the Week - Gene Simmons

It's Friday, and that means I'm ready to rock-n-roll all night thanks to legendary Gene SimmonsKISS band member Gene Simmons! 

Gene Simmons was born Chaim Witz on August 25, 1949 in Haifa, Israel.  From his page at Biography.com:

His mother, Flora, was a Hungarian Jew and Holocaust survivor, who watched her family die in the concentration camps when she was only 14 years old. After the end of World War II, Flora headed to Israel. It was there that she met carpenter Yeichel Witz, the man who would eventually become Chaim's father.

Gene's mother and father split when he was young and he never saw his father again. 

In 1958, when Chaim was eight years old, he and his mother immigrated to New York to live with relatives in Flushing, Queens. After entering the country, Chaim changed his name to Gene, because it was easier to pronounce, and took his mother's surname of Klein. Gene quickly learned English through comic books and television, and entered the Hasidic theological seminary, called yeshiva, at the age of nine. He studied rigorously while his mother worked at a button factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

After seeing the Beatles on television one night, he decided he wanted to be in a band so screaming women would fall in love with him, and after graduating college, he formed the band KISS.

Throughout the 1970s, the band toured virtually nonstop, and became hugely popular for their over-the-top stage antics. KISS developed a large cult following during this time, with fans—called the "KISS Army"—often imitating the group's dress and make-up. But although KISS hit the road consistently, they wouldn't gain popular appeal until their live album Alive! (1975), hit the stores. The album spawned the group's first hit single, "Rock and Roll All Nite," which jumped onto the Billboard Top 40 charts.

KISS continues to tour the world and is still hugely famous.  Gene Simmons is an interesting character, to say the least, and whether you like KISS' music or not, he's definitely an asset to America!

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