Gene Simmons has taken to Twitter to publicly apologise for calling the death of pop icon Prince, "pathetic".

Simmons condemned Prince, saying he "slowly killed himself with drugs and alcohol", and Bowie's death was "the most tragic" because it was an illness, whereas "all the other ones were a choice".

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Now, he's posted a note to Twitter to apologise and explain where he was coming from.

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"I just got so much s*** from my family for my big mouth again. I apologise - I have a long history of getting very angry at what drugs do to the families/friends of the addicts," he wrote.

"I was raised in a culture/crowd where drug addicts were written off as losers, and since that's the narrative I grew up with, it's been hard to change with the times.

"Needless to say, I didn't express myself properly here - I don't shy away from controversy, and angry critics really don't bother me at all. If I think I'm right, I'll throw up a finger and dig my heels in and laugh. But this time, I was not. So, my apologies."

He added a post script at the end saying media outlets had been "quote-mining" things he'd seen in the past to apply it to a new situation, though admitted this didn't make what he'd said "any more tactful".

Results from Prince's toxicology tests are still pending.