UPDATE: Simmons has apologized for his comments regarding Prince's death. See his full statement here.

For Gene Simmons, not all music legend deaths are the same.

The Kiss co-founder explains his thinking by comparing the recent passings of David Bowie and Prince. “Bowie was the most tragic of all because it was real sickness,” Simmons told Newsweek. As for Prince, “his drugs killed him. What do you think, he died from a cold?”

Bowie succumbed in January at age 69 after a previously undisclosed battle with cancer. Prince, 57, was found dead in April, and rumors of prescription drug use have gained momentum ever since. A final medical determination has not yet been announced in Prince's death.

Simmons added that his comments don't diminish his regard for Prince as a musician. “I think Prince was heads, hands and feet above all the rest of them," Simmons said. "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.”

Now 66, Simmons says he'll never understand how such talents come to bad ends, noting that he's never been high or drunk. "The one question I have is: When we all start out and we have these big dreams and you finally get your wish. You have more money than God and fame," Simmons mused. "What is that insane gene in us, well, a lot of us, that makes us want to succumb to the cliché of clichés: drugs and alcohol?"

Simmons has other plans – namely to live for a very, very long time. "At some point, my hair and teeth are gonna fall out," he said. "At some point, you’ll see pathetic Gene Simmons at 80 years old with a colostomy bag and a wheelchair. I’ll grant you it’ll be a studded wheelchair and I’ll have a hot nurse wheeling me around. ... I really enjoy getting up every day. If it means at the end I become a pathetic version of what I am, so be it. My gravestone will not say: 'I wish I woulda, shoulda, coulda.'"

Simmons' longtime Kiss bandmate Paul Stanley was more sympathetic in his public response to Prince's death. Stanley, who overcame what he termed a long and painful recovery after his own hip replacement surgery, asked his fans not to "jump to judge" the tragedy in a Facebook post dated April 22: "If you need hip replacement and can't do it, [the] pain can be excruciating and unrelenting."

UPDATE: Stanley has offered an apology for his bandmate's words. "Embarrassed by cold clueless statements re Prince's death. Without all the facts better to say nothing," he wrote on Twitter. "My apologies."

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