Gene Simmons, of KISS, meets fans at the Tops in Fayetteville on Friday. He was there promoting his premium soda line called MoneyBag Sodas. (photo by Lauren Young)
One of the most famous rock n’ roll musicians in the world visited the Tops in Fayetteville on Friday to unveil his transition to pop — well, soda, that is.
On Friday, Sept. 21, over a hundred KISS fans of all generations stood in line to see Gene Simmons — serial entrepreneur, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and co-founder of KISS, America’s no. 1 gold record-earning band of all time. He made an appearance at the Tops on 350 Towne Drive for his recent launch of a premium soda line called MoneyBag Sodas, which are bundled in vintage-style four-packs with custom crowns and include cola, diet cola, root beer and ginger ale.
For an autograph and picture with the rock star, over 100 fans bought a $20 ticket, which included a four pack of MoneyBag Sodas for Simmons to sign.
For many fans, some who waited in line for more than two hours, this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet one of their longtime favorite musicians, and even get a photo with him.
“I’ve been listening to his music for 40 years,” said KISS fan Mike Walker. “When else am I going to have a chance [to meet him]?”
For mega fan Jacqui Johnston, who has seen the band in concert “a lot” of times, she attended her first KISS concert at 16 years old — and was grounded for it.
On May 3, 1975 at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia, Johnston saw KISS for the first time, but was grounded when her parents found out she brought her 14-year-old brother along.
“[Gene Simmons] was spitting fire, blood,” she said. But the punishment? “Worth it,” she said.
Seeing the costumes in person, she said, was a memorable experience because they were unlike any other band at that time.
“No one was doing costumes back then,” she said.
Johnston even brought a copy of Simmons’ book “27: The Legend and Mythology of the 27 Club,” which he signed, despite his strict contract. She also brought him brownies she made herself this morning, which Simmons was eager to eat when it was her turn for an autograph and photo.
“He was so nice,” she said. “I asked about his mother and told him his book was so well-written.”
Kristin Aanonsen, another KISS fan who waited in line, said she has been a fan since she was “very little.”
“I grew up in a household with KISS fans and have seen them multiple times, but never met any of them,” she said. “This was a prime opportunity for me.”
Even a University of Scranton student was excited today — not because she got to meet Gene Simmons, but because her mother did.
“I texted her earlier this morning and she was so excited,” said mother Lisa Bruno, who waited in line to meet Gene Simmons with her daughter Liza’s KISS cardigan on.
“My daughter’s a big fan,” she said.
Bruno said when she visits her daughter for an upcoming parent’s weekend at the university, she’ll be sure to bring her autographed MoneyBag Sodas with her.
A giveaway for a four pack of concert tickets to the Gene Simmons Band concert that night at Turning Stone Resort Casino Event Center in Verona was also held. All proceeds from the event benefited Honor Flight of Syracuse, which transports veterans for free to Washington, DC to visit their memorials.
Simmons introduces MoneyBag Sodas in cooperation with Niagara Falls-based Rock Steady Sodas Inc., a subsidiary of Johnnie Ryan Bottling Company.
“Paul and John have an impeccable work ethic, as well as a prowess in the premium soft drink marketplace,” said Simmons in a press release. “The incredible flavor profiles they created and collectible packaging will be a crowd pleaser. I am very proud of MoneyBag Sodas and excited about my foray into the soda business.”
“We never dreamed it would be possible to work with someone we have idolized for decades. Gene is the ultimate entrepreneur and a very engaged business partner,” said Paul Janik in a press release.
To learn more about MoneyBag Sodas and Simmons’ next endeavor, visit Genesimmonsmoneybag.com.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.