Kiss performed a rare acoustic gig on Monday in Lake Oswego, Oregon to help raise funds to build a military museum in the Beaver State. For three years, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have assisted Oregon’s Historical Outreach Foundation toward building the $15 million project, but the sans-makeup acoustic show was the first time Gene Simmons and the band had performed at the charity event. In all, Kiss raised over $1 million, $20,000 of which came from an auction of a guitar that Paul Stanley had played since 1989, the Oregonian reports.
Kiss guitarist and Oregon native Tommy Thayer is heavily involved in the museum, which will be named after the guitarist’s father, Brigadier General James B. Thayer, a 93-year-old World War II veteran. In 1945, Thayer’s father was tasked with freeing the prisoners of the Nazi concentration camps. Simmons’ mother was one such prisoner and a Holocaust survivor, and while Simmons is unsure whether Thayer’s father actually helped liberate his mother, given their family histories, the idea of a military museum resonated with the band.
“A museum is a living history book, because young people today and the future generations can’t just read books or watch it on video because it’s unemotional,” Simmons told the Oregonian. “Going into a building and seeing remnants, vestiges of what it all means just cuts out all the sound and images on the outside world, lets you focus a little bit and makes you understand that this is real life and death stuff, and America exists, as far as I’m concerned, as the last bastion of hope for all of humanity on all of Planet Earth.”
“It really is about the men and women of the military that make my life and your life possible,” Simmons added. “There’s chaos in the world. If you go to the Middle East, there are people… ‘evil,’ is a good word. Forget about different religious beliefs or political views; there is evil in the world. People are being beheaded today, not in some medieval time.”