Gene Simmons has branded Prince's death "pathetic" because he "slowly killed himself with drugs and alcohol".

The Kiss singer-and-bassist was shattered to learn of the "tragic" passing of the late David Bowie in January at the age of 69 because he was taken by cancer.

However, Gene has no sympathy for anyone who dies from a drug overdose because it was their "choice".

It has been speculated that Purple Rain hitmaker Prince passed away last month at the age of just 57 due to long-term abuse of the painkiller Percocet.


Simmons - who is married to Shannon Tweed - said: "Bowie was the most tragic of all because it was real sickness. All the other ones were a choice."

Asked if he thought Prince's death was tragic, he told Newsweek Europe: "His drugs killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold?

"I think Prince was heads, hands and feet above all the rest of them. I thought he left [Michael] Jackson in the dust. Prince was way beyond that. But how pathetic that he killed himself. Don't kid yourself, that's what he did. Slowly, I'll grant you ... but that's what drugs and alcohol is: a slow death."

The Crazy Nights rocker met Prince after he took his former girlfriend Diana Ross to see him perform and he found the iconic pop star to be a "very shy" guy who was intimidated by the couple's fame.

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Asked if he had ever met Prince, the 66-year-old rocker shared: "I took Diana to see him when he was first starting out. He was playing a club and we'd never seen anything like that. Backstage when we came up to say 'you were great' we were expecting this huge personality and he was a very small, slight human being. He might have been five-foot-four, very shy, with his eyes to the ground, very self-effacing. He just couldn't take a compliment: 'Thank you, thank you.' He spoke in a whisper. It was shocking actually. He couldn't look Diana Ross in the face - he kept his eyes to the ground."

And asked if he thinks the circumstances surrounding Prince's death have tarnished his legacy, Simmons believe it's had the opposite effect.

He said: "No. Your legacy becomes even bigger, you become more iconic, if you die before your time - Marilyn Monroe, Elvis (Presley) and all that. They capture the youth."

- Bang! Showbiz