Kiss's Gene Simmons: You can't leave this planet without experiencing Jeff Beck

Simmons is among the rock greats to remember Beck after the guitarist's death aged 78.

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons said people “can’t leave this planet without experiencing the astonishing Jeff Beck” as he paid tribute to the late pioneering guitarist.

Simmons, 73, is among the rock greats to remember Beck following a statement from his family on Wednesday announcing he died the previous day aged 78 after contracting bacterial meningitis.

Beck is known for his work with The Yardbirds and The Jeff Beck Group and performed alongside musical heavyweights including Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page.

Appearing on BBC Breakfast on Thursday, Simmons said he and his Kiss bandmates would listen to The Jeff Beck Group while putting on their signature black and white makeup before their shows.

He said: “Let me tell you something, if you haven’t experienced Jeff Beck, you must. You can’t leave this planet without having listened to the astonishing man.

“And if you’re a symphony fan, you must listen to the Jeff Beck version of Nessun dorma, the classic piece of music with a symphony orchestra. It will blow you away.

“So do yourself a favour, forget about Gene Simmons or anybody else talking about him on TV and, respectfully, all the fine folks on the BBC, turn down the lights, put on that first Jeff Beck Group album and witness greatness.”

In the interview, Simmons said he was emotional because Beck “meant so much to so many of us”.

He added: “I knew him personally, as well, but I will tell you that we all admire the great Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, you know the iconic, especially English guitarist, but they will all tell you that only Jeff Beck could play that instrument in ways that they couldn’t dream of.

“In fusion, modern fusion, jazz, blues, almost any form and the other great guitar players, Brian May and everybody, who I’m happy to say I know them and admire them so much, they will always point to Jeff Beck, the governor, as they say.”

Reflecting on Beck’s career, Simmons said “everybody wanted Jeff on their records” and claimed Stevie Wonder wrote his classic track Superstition with the intention of having Beck play on the song.

The rocker said although Beck may be seen as a “1960s iconic guitarist”, he feels his music is “evergreen”.

“Jeff Beck is here and now. He continues with us. And even though, sadly, he’s gone, his music will live forever”, he said.

Beck’s family statement announcing his death, posted to Twitter and Instagram on Wednesday, read: “On behalf of his family, it is with deep and profound sadness that we share the news of Jeff Beck’s passing.

“After suddenly contracting bacterial meningitis, he peacefully passed away yesterday.

“His family ask for privacy while they process this tremendous loss.”