Gene Simmons Recalls Giving Geddy Lee a Bass Lesson After Learning He Didn’t Know a Blues Scale
Rush's Geddy Lee is considered one of the greats in music, but as Gene Simmons revealed during a recent chat with Ultimate-Guitar.com, not everyone approaches music in the same manner. If fact, Simmons says he once offered an impromptu lesson to Lee upon learning they were not on the same page during a jam session after a show.
In speaking as part of a larger discussion about how to teach people to play as someone who himself admits he can't read or write music, Simmons started discussing some of the legends who weren't able to either, such as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Rich. That's when his attention turned to sharing the Geddy Lee anecdote.
"I'll tell you a telling story. KISS took out Rush on their first tour," recalled Simmons. "They came out to support us, you know, because we liked what they did. And this was in the, in their 'Working Man' period, when they sounded kind of like a Canadian Zeppelin, which I still prefer, sound-wise, but obviously, they've done very well, and we used to hang out with the guys and joke around everything."
"One night back at the hotel or backstage someplace, Geddy [Lee] and I were sitting down, trading licks, and I said, 'Do you want to do a blues scale? You go first, and then I'll continue the chord pattern,' and he said, 'I don't know what you mean.' At least from what I recall, Geddy didn't understand what a blues scale was or what '1,4,5' meant. That also bears noting that when you go '1,4,5' to a musician, that means something, it's a relationship of notes or chords," explained Simmons.
"So I go, 'Well, okay then, you hit a G, either octave or low,' and he said, 'Which one is that?' Geddy played purely by ear. Now of course later on, he learned what the notes were and stuff like that," revealed the KISS bassist.
He also singled out another famous guitarist, revealing, "It's the same thing with The Edge. The reason you heard 'jingle jangle jingle jangle,' kind of thing — that became the style of U2's guitar sound is when The Edge started playing guitar in a band, he couldn't play chords. He just strummed various notes so, it's all open to ... Music is an interesting thing. You don't have to get complex about it, just start."
Elsewhere in the chat, Simmons revealed of himself, "I can write songs and I can play various instruments, guitar, bass keyboards, and something like that, and even though I understand the basics of it, I understand that this handheld chord on a guitar is an, A minor, or A major, I understand that. But I can't read or write music. Nor could Jimi Hendrix or Lennon and McCartney or anybody who's in popular music almost without exception. And likewise, I can speak various languages, although it's not important to be able to read or write."
While he may not be able to read or write music, that hasn't stopped Simmons from a legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career. KISS are currently wrapping up their "End of the Road" tour, which will finish out their touring career later this year.