- Associated Press - Sunday, March 31, 2013

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Kiss frontman Gene Simmons made a surprise appearance at a Sioux Falls benefit concert Saturday, at which he spoke of music’s power to positively shape children’s lives.

Mr. Simmons’ appearance came on the final day of a week of concerts to benefit the music academy for Sioux Falls Boys & Girls Clubs members.

“This is about kids. We’ve had our chance. We’ve got to give them a chance. Anything that gets them off the street is a good thing,” Mr. Simmons said.

Music, Mr. Simmons said, is self-empowering.

“It doesn’t matter if you become a star. If you don’t believe in yourself and get up onstage, everybody is watching. You can feel the power … and it helps you get through life, especially when you’re impressionable.”

He said getting involved in music — whether it’s learning to play an instrument or sing karaoke — improves social skills, too.

Motley Crue singer Vince Neil was also at Saturday’s show, and he, too, expounded on the positive benefits of music.

“Say you finish your first song — it could be ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb,’ it doesn’t matter — but at least it’s something you’ve played,” Mr. Neil said. “And I think for kids, they could go into a whole other direction because they accomplished something.”

Mr. Neil said he was 10 when he first started taking guitar lessons.

“I was terrible,” he said laughing. “That’s why I’m not a guitarist. I went into the other direction.”