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Book Review

Book Cover

Paul Stanley
Face the Music - A Life Exposed (Hardback)


Author: Paul Stanley and Tim Mohr
Publisher: Harper One
RRP: £18.99
ISBN: 978 0 06 211404 4
Publication Date: 05 May 2014

Well known for his onstage persona, the "Starchild", Paul Stanley has written a memoir with a gripping blend of personal revelations and war stories about the highs and lows both inside and outside of KISS. Born with a condition called microtia (an ear deformity rendering him deaf on the right side), Stanley's traumatic childhood experiences produced an inner drive to succeed in the most unlikely of places: music. Taking readers through the series of events that led to the founding of KISS, the personal relationships that helped shape his life, and the turbulent dynamics among his band mates over the past forty years, this book leaves no one unscathed - including Stanley himself...

Autobiographies are a funny thing. They're usually written with an agenda; to allow someone in the public eye to put forward their own take on their lives. At times this can be to justify why they've lived the way they have and in the case of KISS's Paul Stanley it's a chance to put his side forward on the infighting over the years with the other band members of KISS.

Face the Music: A Life Exposed examines Stanley's (aka The Starchild) rise to fame and looks at the bumps in the road along the way. Considering who he is, it's surprisingly lacking on scandalous exploits... mainly because Stanley appears to be neither a heavy drinker or drug taker.

I have to admit I've never been a huge KISS follower, and I didn't even know the name of any of the band members. All I was aware of was their makeup and that the one with "Demon" makeup had a tendency to flick his tongue around like a thing possessed. Of course I was aware of their music, but while I do like some of it, I've never bought one of their records. So coming to this book I was totally unsure of what to expect.

I was surprised by Stanley's work ethic - how the music and the fans mean way more to him than anything else. Drug use is a no-no, as is partying your life away - which is probably why there was a division in the band's original line up which saw him and Gene Simmons (The Demon) never really seeing eye-to-eye with Ace Frehley (The Spaceman) and Peter Criss (The Catman). It's telling that the only real beef that Stanley has in this book is with Frehley and Criss, but then he never really attacks them, it's more that he is frustrated with how they dishonoured the KISS name and its fans. In fact, he even pulls up Simmons on this from time to time.

The book opens with Stanley's childhood, which despite what he says, doesn't sound that bad at all. His parents weren't overly rich, so it's hardly surprising that they couldn't really provide for him. His father was a man of his time so it's not a great surprise to hear he didn't receive love and praise from him - that wasn't the done thing back then; it wasn't seen as "manly" for a father to do that.

When, for his birthday, the young Stanley doesn't receive the much wished for electric guitar and instead gets a second hand acoustic guitar... I kind of lost sympathy for him a little. I mean, who knows if this was just a flash in the pan? He could have played for a few weeks and given up. So later, when his first wife is rude to him when he buys her a car and it's not exactly what she wanted... well, I kind of hope he drew parallels with his own unintentional rudeness as a child. The difference being that Stanley's parents weren't awash with cash, an older Stanley certainly was.

It was interesting to learn that Stanley was born with an ear deformity which made it hard for him to hear people talking to him. And it's a tribute to his strength of character that he overcame this disability to become the music legend he is today.

His relationship with Simmons is a little lacking in detail, but then Stanley openly admits that none of the band members socialised together outside of touring (even though there are pictures of Simmons with Stanley's kids at the beach included). I suppose if you want to know more about Simmons, or any of the other band members take on events, you should pick up their autobiographies too.

Stanley comes across as a genuinely nice bloke; the sort of guy fans would be pleased to learn gives his fans the time of day and certainly isn't rude to when they meet him in the flesh. To him, KISS is simply a labour of love. He wants to do the best he can and give fans value for money. He sounds like he genuinely respects his fans and himself (something that certainly can't be said about other past band members).


Darren Rea

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