Simmons Taps Dylan, Zappa Songs For Solo Set

Gene Simmons' first solo record in 25 years will feature songs co-written by Bob Dylan and the late Frank Zappa, Billboard.com has learned. The as-yet-untitled disc will be among the first albums rele

Gene Simmons' first solo record in 25 years will feature songs co-written by Bob Dylan and the late Frank Zappa, Billboard.com has learned. The as-yet-untitled disc will be among the first albums released through his recently revived Simmons Records' new deal with Sanctuary Records.

The Dylan co-write, "Waiting for the Morning Light," was born out of a one-day writing session at Simmons' home in Los Angeles six or seven years ago, the Kiss bassist/vocalist reveals.

"Bob came up with the chords, most of them, and then I took it and wrote lyrics, melody, the rest of it," says Simmons, adding that he kept urging Dylan through the years to put lyrics to the song. "I'd see him on tour, and I'd say, 'Bob, you wanna write the song? And he would say, 'No, man, you write it, Mr. Kiss.'"

Of the one-day session, Simmons says, "We understood each other right away. He picked up an acoustic guitar, and we just tossed it back and forth, 'How 'bout this, how 'bout that?' And he started to strum, because he -- at least with me -- tended to talk and strum guitar at the same time. And as soon as I heard the first three or four chords, I went, 'Wait, wait, what's that? Do that again.' So I went and started to write a lyric around that."

Simmons says he also plans to build a song around an unused Zappa riff titled, appropriately, "Black Tongue." "The plan is for [Zappa's children] Dweezil, Ahmet, and everybody to play on it, and to take Frank's voice and create a brand new song. It's very dark, very sort of King Crimson, 'In the Court of the Crimson King'-kind of sound, with 7/8 time."

The bassist, whose previous solo album was a 1978 self-titled set released the same day as solo sets from his three Kiss bandmates -- singer/guitarist Paul Stanley, singer Ace Frehley, and drummer Peter Criss -- is also courting the likes of John Mellencamp, Axl Rose, and Trey Anastasio for guest vocals.

The album, previewed to Billboard.com, will surely surprise many. The funky, acoustic guitar-laced "Dog" recalls Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and the soulful, midtempo "Waiting for the Morning Light," a relationship song, is reminiscent of Daryl Hall. "Looking Out the Window" is a sentimental, Beatles-inspired number that features lap steel. Another cut, "A**hole," is more of a straightforward, rock guitar-driven track.

The solo set, for which no release date has yet been set, is just one of many projects Simmons is working on. Kiss is nearing the July 22 release of The Kiss Symphony: Alive IV," which captures the band's Feb. 28 performance with the Melbourne Orchestra, the first release from Kiss Records via Sanctuary. A summer co-headlining jaunt with Aerosmith begins Aug. 2 in Hartford, Conn.

"Sex, Money, Kiss," Simmons' second book, following the autobiography "Kiss and Make-Up," is due next week via his own Simmons Books (through New Millennium). Three more books are in the pipeline, "Groupies: Sex, Drugs, and Rock'n'roll," "Gene Simmons Mysteries," and "How to Raise a Rock Star," written by his longtime girlfriend, actress Shannon Tweed.

Simmons says he's also closing in on signing the first artists to Simmons Records in more than a decade. The label was last active in the late 1980s and was previously distributed through RCA/BMG. It released records by hard rock acts such as House Of Lords, Silent Rage, and Gypsy Rose with moderate success.

With the revived label, he says he's out to prove that "Van Halen wasn't a fluke." Simmons is credited with discovering the band.