Paul Stanley (born Stanley Bert Eisen; January 20, 1952)[1] is an American musician who was the co-founder, frontman, rhythm guitarist and co-lead vocalist of the hard rock band Kiss from the band's inception in 1973 to their retirement in 2023. He was the writer or co-writer of many of the band's most popular songs. Stanley established The Starchild character for his Kiss persona. Stanley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014 as a member of Kiss.

Paul Stanley
Stanley in 2010
Stanley Bert Eisen

(1952-01-20) January 20, 1952 (age 72)
Other namesThe Starchild
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
Years active1970–present
  • Pamela Bowen
    (m. 1992; div. 2001)
  • Erin Sutton
    (m. 2005)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Member of
  • Paul Stanley's Soul Station
Formerly of

In 2006, Hit Parader ranked him 18th on their list of the Top 100 Metal Vocalists of All Time.[2] A readers' poll in 2010 named him 13th on their list of Top 25 Frontmen.[3]

Early life edit

Stanley Bert Eisen was born in upper Manhattan, New York City, near 211th St. and Broadway; the Inwood neighborhood near Inwood Hill Park. Both of his parents are Jewish. He was the youngest of two children; his sister Julia[4] is two years older. Their mother came from a family that fled Nazi Germany for Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and then to New York City. His father's parents were from Poland. Stanley was raised Jewish, although he did not consider his family very observant and did not celebrate his bar mitzvah.[5] His parents listened to classical music and light opera; Stanley was greatly moved by Beethoven's works.

Since Stanley's right ear was misshapen from a birth defect called microtia and he was unable to hear on that side, he found it difficult to determine the direction of a sound, and was unable to understand speech in a noisy environment.[6] Attending PS 98, he was taunted by other children for his deformed ear.[7]

Despite his hearing problem, Stanley enjoyed listening to music, and he watched American Bandstand on television. His favorite musical artists included Eddie Cochran, Dion and the Belmonts, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. Stanley learned to sing harmony with his family, and he was given a child's guitar at age seven.[8][9]

Stanley's family relocated to the Kew Gardens neighborhood in Queens in 1960.[10] He listened to a lot of doo-wop music, but when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones played on U.S. television he was inspired by the performance aspect, which he thought was not out of his reach. Stanley received his first real guitar at age 13, an acoustic one that he would have preferred to be electric. He played tunes by Bob Dylan, the Byrds, the Lovin' Spoonful and more.[8]

All through his childhood Stanley had been recognized for his talent in graphic arts, so he attended the High School of Music & Art in New York City, graduating in 1970.[11]

Kiss edit

Stanley's Starchild make-up

Before Kiss, Stanley was in a local band, Rainbow[12] and was a member of Uncle Joe and Post War Baby Boom. Through a mutual friend of Gene Simmons, Stanley joined Simmons' band Wicked Lester in the early 1970s. The band recorded an album in 1972, but it was never officially released. Wicked Lester fell apart and Stanley and Simmons answered Peter Criss's advertisement in Rolling Stone.[13][14][15] Soon after recruiting Criss, they held auditions for a lead guitarist, with Stanley placing an ad in the Village Voice. Ace Frehley won the group over with his playing, and was nearly a perfect fit to the group's sound. Kiss released their self-titled debut album in February 1974.

At this point, Stanley had the idea of changing his name not only for marketing purposes but also the fact he had always hated his birth name. Inspired by Paul McCartney and Paul Rodgers, he legally changed his name to Paul Stanley.[16][17]

Stanley's persona in Kiss was "the Starchild" displaying one star over his right eye. For a brief time, Stanley tried out a new character "the Bandit", with a "Lone Ranger" style mask design make-up pattern. This make-up design was used during a few 1973–74 shows and photo-shoots, some of which he was photographed with both designs in the same session. "I even tried painting my face all red," he admitted. "I looked like a longhaired tomato! Before settling on the star, I'd just paint a black ring around my eye… Each of us wears something that reflects who we are. I always loved stars and always identified with them – so, when it came time to put something on my face, I knew it would be a star."[18]

Stanley singing "Love Gun" in Montreal, Quebec

In his book Sex Money Kiss, Gene Simmons says Stanley was the driving force for KISS during the period in the 1980s when the band performed without makeup. Those years, Stanley noted, "were fine for me. I found them very satisfying because I got a chance to be out there without makeup, which I craved at that point. I think it was easier for me [than Simmons] because my persona was one that wasn't really defined by the makeup… The makeup was just reinforcing what you were seeing and who I was."[19]

In 2007, Stanley was hospitalized with tachycardia. In his absence, Kiss performed live as a trio for the first time in decades. The concert was the first Kiss performance Stanley missed.[20]

During the first leg of the band's final tour, Stanley was accused by fans of lip syncing and using backing tracks.[21] In response to the allegations, Stanley did not confirm nor deny that he lip syncs on stage, saying he is taking care of his voice.[22] Accusations were later revived by fans following the band's performance in Belgium on June 6, 2022, when a slip-up occurred with the fireworks and drum cues a measure late on the opening song, "Detroit Rock City".[23] Doc McGhee, the band's manager, later confirmed simultaneously that Stanley did sing fully, but will sing to tracks, denying that he was lip syncing.[24]

Solo career edit

Stanley released his first solo album Paul Stanley as part of the four simultaneously released Kiss solo albums, but he has rarely recorded or performed outside of Kiss. He wrote and recorded material for another album in 1987–88, but it was shelved in favor of the Kiss compilation Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. While never officially released, songs such as "Don't Let Go" and "When Two Hearts Collide" have circulated as bootleg recordings. One song from the project, "Time Traveler", was released as part of Kiss' 2001 box set.[25]

In 1989, Stanley embarked on a brief club tour. His touring band included guitarist Bob Kulick and future Kiss drummer Eric Singer. The same year, Stanley shared lead vocals with Desmond Child on the title track for the soundtrack of the Wes Craven horror film Shocker.

Stanley, Singer and Thayer performing at the Azkena Rock Festival; June 26, 2010

Twenty-eight years after releasing his first solo album, Stanley released a second album, Live to Win, on October 24, 2006. Its title song "Live to Win" appears in the South Park episode "Make Love, Not Warcraft". In October and November 2006, Stanley embarked on a theater tour in support of Live to Win. His touring band was the house band from the CBS TV show Rock Star, composed of Paul Mirkovich (keyboards), Jim McGorman (guitar), Rafael Moreira (lead guitar), Nate Morton (drums), and Sasha Krivtsov (bass). In April 2007, Stanley extended the tour to include Australia, playing in Coolangatta, Wollongong, Newcastle, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide. Portions of the tour were filmed for a documentary titled Paul Stanley: Live to Dream by the Chicago-based Film Foetus.[26] The band's performance at the House of Blues in Chicago was captured on film and released in 2008 on DVD and digital audio download formats as One Live Kiss.[27]

In 2008, Stanley sang a duet with Sarah Brightman, "I Will Be with You", on her Symphony album. In 2016, he guested in Ace Frehley's covers album Origins, Vol. 1, singing "Fire and Water" by Free.[28]

In 2015, Stanley established Paul Stanley's Soul Station, a tribute band playing a mix of soul oldies from the 1960s and 1970s with original songs in the same style. Paul Stanley's Soul Station released its first album in 2021, along with its lead single, the original "I, Oh I."[29]

Vocals and playing style edit

Possessing a tenor vocal range, Stanley tends to sing in the high registers and is known for his falsetto.[30] Stanley uses Ibanez guitars (with various signature models currently available), Seymour Duncan pickups, Ernie Ball strings and ENGL amplifiers, as well as custom made KISS signature picks. He has also used various other makes of guitar over the years, including Washburn (with whom he also had a signature model), Gibson, B.C. Rich, Ampeg and Ovation among others. He has also previously used amplifiers by Fender and later Randall.[31]

Other projects edit

Stanley and Thayer in concert with Kiss at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California in 2006

In 1999, Stanley starred in a Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera,[32] in which he played the role of the Phantom. He appeared in the musical from May 25 to August 1, and again that year from September 30 to October 31, 1999, closing the show's ten-year run in Toronto. Stanley made his debut as a painter in 2006, exhibiting and selling original works of art. Stanley collaborated with Boston-based power pop group Click Five on their hit single, "Angel To You (Devil To Me)".

Stanley produced a debut album for the band New England. Their first single from that album in 1978 "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya" reached the Top 40 in 1979.[33]

In 2012, Stanley partnered with Gene Simmons and three other investors to form the restaurant franchise Rock & Brews.[34]

On August 15, 2013, Stanley, Gene Simmons and manager Doc McGhee became a part of the ownership group that created the L.A. Kiss Arena Football League team, which played their home games at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The team folded in 2016.[35]

In April 2014, Stanley published his memoir, Face the Music: A Life Exposed (ISBN 978-0-06-211404-4).[4][36][37][38] In the memoir, Stanley, who is Jewish,[39] accused former bandmates Ace Frehley and Peter Criss of antisemitism.[4][40]

An unreleased song written by Stanley along with Jean Beauvoir, titled "Like a Bee to the Honey", was recorded and released by the Finnish hard rock band Lordi for their album, Killection.[41]

Personal life edit

Stanley performing with Kiss in 2019

In 1982, after he turned 30 years old, Stanley had reconstructive surgery for the microtia in his right ear done by Frederic Rueckert, who had been performing the procedure primarily on children. The new ear was formed from cartilage from one of the singer's ribs, with skin grafts put over it. Stanley said the surgery had given him "a new lease on life" and was so grateful to Rueckert that he gave the doctor a Rolex watch upon his retirement.[42] Because of this birth defect, Stanley is an ambassador for the charitable organization AboutFace, an organization that provides support and information to people with facial differences. He has appeared at fundraising events and in videos to raise awareness.[43]

In 2001, Stanley's first wife, actress Pamela Bowen,[44] filed for divorce after nine years of marriage. They have one son named Evan, born in June 1994. On November 19, 2005, Stanley married longtime girlfriend Erin Sutton at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Pasadena, California. The couple had a son in September 2006, a daughter in January 2009 [45] and a daughter in August 2011.[46][47]

Stanley has had two hip-replacement surgeries: one after the "Rock the Nation" tour in October 2004, and a second in December 2004 after complications arose from the first surgery. He had announced in 2005 that he will require a third hip surgery in the future. He regards the degeneration of his left hip as partly the product of thousands of shows performed in platform boots since the early 1970s.[citation needed]

In October 2011, Stanley had surgery on his vocal cords. He said, "I hold myself to a higher standard than others do. With that in mind, I wanted to remedy a few minor issues that come with 40 years of preaching rock 'n' roll."[48]

Awards edit

  • Inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006[49]
  • Showman of the Year award of the Classic Rock Awards for 2008
  • Classic Gold Telly Award for his concert film One Live Kiss in 2009
  • Sound Partners Lifetime Achievement Award from the House Research Institute[50][51]
  •'s Reader's Poll listed Stanley among rock and roll's 25 top frontmen and -women.[3]
  • Stanley, along with original Kiss members, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.[52]

Discography edit

Studio albums edit

Solo edit

Paul Stanley's Soul Station edit

  • Now and Then (2021)

with Kiss edit

Live albums edit

Guest appearances edit

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ Rose, Mike (January 20, 2023). "Today's famous birthdays list for January 20, 2023 includes celebrities Questlove, Rainn Wilson". Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  2. ^ "Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists". Retrieved August 5, 2020.
  3. ^ a b " Readers Poll – Top 25 Frontmen (and Frontwomen)". August 27, 2010. Archived from the original on August 30, 2010. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Getlen, Larry (April 6, 2014). "Paul Stanley: KISS members were anti-Semites". New York Post. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  5. ^ Stanley, Paul (April 8, 2014). Face the Music: A Life Exposed. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0062114044. My family lit candles and observed Jewish holidays in some vague ways, but we weren't very observant. I was never bar mitzvahed. . . . sure, I felt Jewish, but I didn't want to subject myself to being around any more people.
  6. ^ Stanley, Paul (2014). Face the Music: A Life Exposed. HarperCollins. p. 13. ISBN 9780062114068. I was born with an ear deformity called microtia, in which the outer ear cartilage fails to form properly and, to varying degrees of severity, leaves you with just a crumpled mass of cartilage. . . . That left me unable to tell the direction of sound, and more importantly, made it incredibly difficult for me to understand people when there was any kind of background noise or conversation.
  7. ^ Duca, Lauren (April 15, 2014). "Kiss Frontman Paul Stanley Was Born With Only One Ear, Had A Generally Nightmarish Childhood". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Leaf, David; Sharp, Ken (2008). KISS: Behind the Mask – Official Authorized Biography. Hachette Digital. pp. 25–26. ISBN 9780446553506.
  9. ^ Stanley 2014, pp. 11–14
  10. ^ Leaf/Sharp 2008, p. 24
  11. ^ "Notable Alumni". Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved August 4, 2009.
  12. ^ "Kiss Singer Paul Stanley Faces the Music in Candid Autobiography". Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Gooch and Suhs, Kiss Alive Forever, pp. 14.
  14. ^ Gill, Focus, pp. 68–71.
  15. ^ Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask, pp. 20–21.
  16. ^ Stanley, Paul. ""Face the Music" by Paul Stanley Disc 2". YouTube. Retrieved December 7, 2022.
  17. ^ Blum, Jordan. "10 Rockers Who Legally Adopted Their Stage Names". Loudwire. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  18. ^ Kitts, Jeff: 'Kiss 'N' Makeup', Guitar World, September 1996, p73
  19. ^ Uhelszki, Jaan (May 2017). "Who Is The Real Paul Stanley?". Classic Rock. No. 235. p. 65.
  20. ^ "PAUL STANLEY Hospitalized Prior To California Gig; KISS Performs As Three-Piece". July 28, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved July 28, 2007.
  21. ^ Buchanan, Brett (February 8, 2019). "KISS Accused of Lip Sync Screw Up in Video: 'That Was Pathetic'". Alternative Nation. Archived from the original on April 10, 2019. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  22. ^ Buchanan, Brett (February 28, 2019). "Kiss Reveal the Truth After Lip Syncing Allegations". Alternative Nation. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  23. ^ "Kiss 'Backing Tracks' Accusations Revived After Eric Singer's 'Mistake' At Antwerp Concert". June 7, 2022. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  24. ^ "Kiss's Longtime Manager Addresses Paul Stanley 'Lip-Sync' Accusations". February 5, 2023. Retrieved February 12, 2023.
  25. ^ "KISS - KISS: The Box Set". Discogs. Retrieved September 15, 2022.
  26. ^ "Paul Stanley: Live to Dream". Archived from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  27. ^ "Paul Stanley: One Live Kiss (2008)". IMDb. October 21, 2008. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  28. ^ Grow, Kory (April 14, 2016). "Hear Ace Frehley and Paul Stanley's First Song Together in 18 Years". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  29. ^ Greene, Andy (March 5, 2021). "Paul Stanley's Soul Station Releases First Original Song". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 31, 2022.
  30. ^ Campion, James (March 6, 2016). "Music From the Elder: Explaining the Kiss Album Everyone Hates". Vincary Media. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  31. ^ "Paul Stanley". May 8, 2021. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  32. ^ Lalley, Heather (July 21, 2000). "Goodbye Kiss?". Spokane, Washington: The Spokesman-Review. p. 4. Retrieved April 28, 2022. Stanley has already starred in "The Phantom of the Opera" in Toronto
  33. ^ Lamb, Bill. "Greetings From Imrie House – The Click Five". Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved December 22, 2009.
  34. ^ Simms, Kelley (August 27, 2019). "A KISS-tied restaurant in Des Moines? It's a possibility, says band member Paul Stanley". Des Moines Register. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  35. ^ Kartje, Ryan (October 18, 2016). "Arena Football League's L.A. KISS apparently have folded, leaving players and fans in the dark". OC Register. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
  36. ^ Blatt, Ruth (April 8, 2014). "KISS's Paul Stanley Overcame Deafness, Deformity And Bullying To Become A Rock Star". Forbes. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  37. ^ Stanley, Paul. "Face The Music". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  38. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: Face The Music: A Life Exposed by Paul Stanley". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  39. ^ Stanley, Paul (April 8, 2014). Face the Music: A Life Exposed. HarperOne. p. 447. ISBN 978-0062114044. I'm Jewish and I believe in God, but I don't picture God as an old man with a beard and a robe sitting in heaven judging us.
  40. ^ "Paul Stanley: Former KISS members were anti-Semitic". Fox News Network. April 8, 2014. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  41. ^ "Lordi Posts New Lyric Video "Like A Bee To The Honey" Online". Metal Underground. January 19, 2020. Retrieved September 25, 2020.
  42. ^ Amabile Angermiller, Michele (May 5, 2017). "The Amazing Story of KISS Guitarist Paul Stanley's Missing Ear, and the Doctor Who Reconstructed It". Variety. Retrieved July 22, 2019.
  43. ^ "Improv-ing self-esteem– Acting classes help children with facial differences". December 23, 2000. Archived from the original on February 3, 2012. Retrieved December 7, 2011.
  44. ^ "Pamela Bowen". IMDb.
  45. ^ "Kiss Singer Paul Stanley Welcomes a Daughter". People. February 10, 2009 – via
  46. ^ Byrne, Alla (August 10, 2011). "Paul Stanley of KISS Welcomes Fourth Child – Kiss, Babies, Paul Stanley". People. Retrieved December 7, 2011 – via
  47. ^ Stanley, Paul (April 8, 2014). Face the Music: A Life Exposed. HarperOne. p. 478. ISBN 978-0062114044.
  48. ^ Duke, Alan (October 26, 2011). "KISS front man Paul Stanley undergoes vocal cord surgery". CNN.
  49. ^ "Paul Stanley". Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 6, 2021.
  50. ^ "30th Annual Telly Awards 2009: Classic Telly Classic Winners". Retrieved September 22, 2009.
  51. ^ "House Research Institute Awards Paul Stanley with Sound Partners Lifetime Achievement Award". Newswise.
  52. ^ Reilly, Dan. "Kiss Enters Rock Hall With Little Drama, But Stern Words for Voters". Billboard. Retrieved August 28, 2019.

Sources edit

  • Stanley, Paul (2014). Face the Music: A Life Exposed. New York City, New York: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-211404-4.
  • Stanley, Paul (2019). Backstage Pass (First ed.). New York City, New York: HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-282028-0.

External links edit