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Originally published Saturday, March 30, 2013 at 5:12 PM

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Gene Simmons says music can save a child's life

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons made a surprise appearance at a Sioux Falls benefit concert Saturday, where he spoke of music's power to positively shape children's lives.

Associated Press

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. —

Kiss frontman Gene Simmons made a surprise appearance at a Sioux Falls benefit concert Saturday, where he spoke of music's power to positively shape children's lives.

Simmons's 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," Simmons said.

Music, Simmons said, is self-empowering.

"It doesn't matter if you become a star. If you don't believe in yourself and get up on stage, 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," Neil said. "And I think for kids, they could go into a whole other direction because they accomplished something."

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."

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Follow Kristi Eaton on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kristieaton.

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