TORONTO - Gene Simmons says he's heard enough celebrity tributes to Michael Jackson, and wants to hear from the kids who accused the late pop singer of molestation.
Simmons, the bassist/vocalist for classic rock stalwarts Kiss, says he's less interested in Jackson's talent than he is in accusations that the singer molested young boys.
"I want the kids who've accused him, to be blunt, of molestation, to have their say," Simmons told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Thursday.
"I want to hear what they have to say. Not celebrities. Let's celebrate the talent and everything later, let's just figure out if there are any victims here."
Jackson, who died last week, was tried for child molestation in 2005 but was ultimately acquitted of all charges by a jury. He faced a similar accusation in 1993 but that case was settled out of court.
For years, rumours swirled as Jackson hung around with child stars including Macaulay Culkin, and invited young boys for sleepovers at his Neverland ranch.
Despite being acquitted, those close to him have said he never recovered from the charges.
Since his death, glowing tributes have been rolling in from celebrities around the world, with few mentions of the allegations.
Even U.S. President Barack Obama paused Thursday to say that Jackson "will go down in history as one of our greatest entertainers."
Meanwhile, speculation raged Thursday about where the King of Pop will be buried, with some reports mentioning that there will be a public event in honour of the singer at the Staples Center in L.A. next week.
Officials are also probing the circumstances around Jackson's death, and whether drug use was involved.
Simmons, who's a popular - and reliably outspoken - reality TV star in addition to a rocker, said he initially declined to provide his opinion on Jackson, but that enough time had elapsed since the singer's death for him to break his silence.
Simmons said he knew Jackson roughly 26 years ago. At the time, Simmons was living with Diana Ross and found Jackson to be "charming and shy and self-effacing, you know, very pleasant, obviously talented."
Jackson paid millions of dollars to settle out of court with a 13-year-old who accused him of molestation in 1993, Simmons noted.
"I want to know what that boy has to say," Simmons said.
"So while it's sad that (Jackson) had this sad life and I understand, that's horrible - Michael's not the only victim. I want to know what these boys have to say."
Gotten a lot of questions from media and from quite a lot of you Re: Michael Jackson.
I have refused all media requests for interviews. There are enough people in the industry being quoted. Some altruistically, some for media coverage.
When I was going out with Diana Ross in the early 80's, I met Michael a few times through her. We spent social time together.
Found him to be gentle, charming...obviously very talented. And that was that.
The Michael of later years is someone I didn't recognize...nor like very much.
When there are children involved...when there are allegations (many) of child molestation...when there are admissions of inviting countless young boys to spend weekends and sometimes Michael's bed with them (Michael's quote), clothed or unclothed...makes no difference...when there are payoffs to the children making the accusations in the $20,000,000 range ($20 Million Dollars!!! -- as reported by Media) ....There's more than doubt in my mind.
This doesn't take into consideration Michael's children...none of whom are biologically his. All three of whom have had a "strange" upbringing. But then, we don't know much, except a "Father" who thought nothing of dangling his young child over the balcony (head covered in a towel), so his fans could get a thrill.
So, what's my comment Re: Michael's passing? I hope he finds peace. I wish his family and friends all the best in these very sad times.
But as regards Media coverage: celebs can always get media coverage.
But what about the children who spent nights with Michael in his bed? (he has admitted on camera he has done it many times, and would continue to do it). They need a voice. And, they should have a chance to have their say. With lie detectors attached. Maybe then, away from rich celebrities, tricky lawyers and LA court systems that can't seem to convict anyone....maybe then, we'll find out the truth about child molestation charges leveled at Michael Jackson from children (that's plural, not singular).
My comment? I recognize and respect his talent, but the rest is very tainted.
And I want to hear the truth, once and for all.