Prince's 'pathetic' death sets off heavy metal feud

Musicians Nikki Sixx (left) in 2010 and Gene Simmons in 2015.
Musicians Nikki Sixx (left) in 2010 and Gene Simmons in 2015.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - The death of Prince has set off a feud in a very different realm of the music world with members of metal giants Motley Crue and Kiss taking each other to task.

The rift began when Gene Simmons, bassist of makeup-clad glam rockers Kiss, called Prince's April 21 death "pathetic" and described it as a choice because of the pop icon's reported use of painkillers.

Simmons, who is known for right-leaning views and earlier this year disparaged rap as an art form, apologised for his remarks about Prince but was hit by a stinging rebuke from Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx.

Sixx, who was also the main songwriter of the heavy metal greats who disbanded last year, said that Simmons was heartless and "not my hero anymore."

"When you're in Gene's position, you should have a little bit more than a narrow-minded, bullying sense of what's happening on the Earth," Sixx, who has battled addiction, said on his radio show.

"I think that he's an overrated, lucky guy that dresses like a clown, wrote some good songs, hasn't in a long time and loves to brag about himself," Sixx said of Simmons, also faulting him for favourable statements about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

His remarks brought an intervention from Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley, who wrote on Twitter this week that Simmons had an "undeniable" influence on music, whatever his public statements.

Stanley said that Simmons was generous to charity which "makes your ongoing rant, in the scheme of things, the unimportant but annoying squeak it truly is. Move on."

Sixx replied: "Actually Paul that's a great name for the next Kiss album. 'Move On.'"

Kiss and Motley Crue are two of the top-selling metal bands of all time, with both known for elaborate stage theatrics and unbridled sexuality.

But while Kiss found inspiration from comic books, Motley Crue, a generation younger, took a darker turn lyrically with tales of addiction and street life.