Paul Frehley (better known as Ace Frehley) responded to an ad they put in The Village Voice for a lead guitar player, and soon joined them.Kiss released their self-titled debut album in February 1974.The name Klein, which means "small" in German, has the Hungarian equivalent Kis (a common Hungarian surname); this, however, did not give the band its name.

It blew me away that these four boys [from] the middle of nowhere could make that music." Simmons became involved with his first band, Lynx, then renamed The Missing Links, when he was a teenager.

Eventually, he disbanded the band to form The Long Island Sounds, the name being a pun on Long Island Sound.

In addition to playing guitar, Simmons is known for his large tongue and on stage is known for his demonic figure by spitting fire and vomiting stage blood. Most people only think about America in terms of rock & roll, movies and television.

During an interview in 1999, Simmons was asked about the source and significance of Kiss' stage makeup and personas: I've always been a fan of Americana, and Americana has always been about imagery, often above content. Kiss is very all-American, in the sense that our constituency has never had anything in common with critics ...

Dissatisfied with Wicked Lester's sound and look, Simmons and Stanley attempted to fire their band members; they were met with resistance, and they quit Wicked Lester, walking away from their record deal with Epic Records.

They decided to form the "ultimate rock band", and started looking for a drummer.

The new drummer was Paul Charles Caravello, who went by the stage name of Eric Carr, and played for Kiss from 1980 until his death in 1991.

The band hosted its own fan conventions in 1995, and fan feedback about the original Kiss members reunion influenced the highly successful 1996–1997 Alive Worldwide reunion tour. Since then, the original line-up has once again dissolved, with Tommy Thayer replacing Ace Frehley on lead guitar and Eric Singer (who performed with Kiss from 1991 through 1996) replacing Peter Criss on drums.

A significant influence on Simmons was the Beatles.