Sunday, June 29, 2014

Paul Stanley's "Face The Music, A Life Exposed" Grips Your Attention With A Stranglehold

     I wrote about the mega, super rock group, "Kiss,"  in an earlier blog of mine. It was about my first and only Kiss concert that I ever attended in December of 1978 at The Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, Tenn., when I was 16 years-old. http://acriticfromthesouth.blogspot.com/2011/01/all-way-to-see-kiss-at-mid-south.html  I went by myself because none of my other friends wanted to go with me.  I heard recently on a podcast that "Lifelong, die-hard Kiss fans take a lot crap throughout their lifetime."  I think that statement is somewhat true.
The cover of Paul's book
Me and Paul at his book signing in Bowling Green, Ky.
    And as far as the individual members of the group are concerned, to be honest, I never thought a whole lot about lead singer and guitar player, Jewish born Paul Stanley, "The Starchild," as being my favorite member of the group.  I suppose I've always liked Jewish born Gene Simmons the best, the fire-breathing, blood spitting "The Demon," bass player of the four male members who wore make-up and black costumes on stage for years. Originally, there was also drummer Peter Criss and lead guitarist Ace Frehley too.  Gene, however, always seemed to be the most colorful to me catching my attention, on and off camera.  And now since Peter and Ace are out of the band again, now there's Tommy Thayer on lead guitar and Eric Singer on drums and they are wearing the original make-up of Ace and Peter, the Spaceman and the Catman. But for me, I had been seeing Gene on television the most throughout the recent years thanks to his hit A&E reality show, "Gene Simmons Family Jewels."  I felt the show gave me a real sense of who Gene Simmons really was.  Especially when you saw behind the scenes of his life where you got to know his beautiful wife, Shannon Tweed, and his kids, Nick and Sophia Simmons and his lovely mom who still lives in New York City.  As far as Paul was concerned throughout the years, I would catch headlines of him some in the past.  Such as the time he began to paint and sold some of his paintings at auctions and where he made over $2 million dollars from selling them according to media sources at the time. And I think that I heard somewhere along the way that he liked to cook too.  But that's about it that I can remember about Paul.
    But this book. OMG!  Wow, did I get to know Paul Stanley! Now I feel like I really know him. It all began when I got a chance to meet him at our local library in Bowling Green, Ky., for a book signing in May. I wrote this too in a recent blog and I even included a video of the event that I made. http://www.acriticfromthesouth.blogspot.com/2014/05/kiss-paul-stanley-brings-people-out-of.html  I was able to purchase a pre-signed copy and I had my picture made with him.  When I met him, I realized he's just a human being like me while side standing next to him.  He didn't shake my hand but he fist bumped me.  (I guess if I had to meet that many fans during a book signing tour, I would be a little concerned about germs or injuring my guitar playing hand too)  Before I left after our very brief meeting, I told him that my wife and I were going to see Kiss in concert in Nashville, July 16th.  He said, "We'll see you there!" he said and then smiled. I said goodbye. And that was it.  I still have my picture with him to show for it.
      Paul seems to be completely honest in his book.  Early in this 462 page turner with several great color and black and white photos, he writes about an ear defect that he was born with and how he was teased about it during school.  He writes of his home life and some of the struggles that his family endured growing up in the NYC.  He also writes about of his early years of how he became a musician and how he met Gene and how they recruited Peter and Ace and how they eventually became to be one of the biggest and hottest bands in the world.  There's a lot discussions about some of the different personalities of the different band members through the years such as Peter, Ace and Eric Carr, a drummer that passed away of heart cancer in the early 80's.  You learn about his first sexual experience and all the women that passed through in his life. Tons of them!  I thought Gene lead the field in that area, but now I'm starting to wonder if Paul has just as many sexual encounters with women as him.  You learn about Kiss' management team and original record label, Bill Aucoin and Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records.  You learn about the ups and downs of the band and their roller coaster ride to the top.  After I went to college at the University of Mississippi in their early 80's, I pretty much lost contact with Kiss.  I didn't keep up with them a lot then.  Oh, I would see them from time to time on MTV with a new video here and there they had out or something like.  But that was about it. Or I also saw where they had some new band members and went "Unmasked" to the public.  But those years, during and after college as a Kiss fan, it went totally blank for me.  I had also gotten married in 1986 and my son was born in 1987 and I had moved to Kentucky and went to work full time to raise a family.  So the book was very helpful to me to fill in the blanks of the missing Kiss years from the early 80's all the way up to about 1998 when I saw them on national television during the Halloween concert at the LA Dodgers Stadium during the reunion tour with all four original members on stage again.
Gene, Shannon and Paul
     I suppose what struck me most about this book besides Paul's honesty is how hard this man has worked to be the musician that he wanted to become and the driving force to keep Kiss together all the years.  He admits that he smoked a little pot during the early days but he has nothing against drinking and absolutely loves women or sex if you will.  That was his main vice he said, relationships and women. He gets into depth about his first marriage to actress Pam Bowen and the birth of his son, Evan, the divorce and eventually the marriage to his new wife, Erin.  I really liked this paragraph in the book where he talks about seeing Erin for the first time, "If there was ever going to be a moment that proved to me the existence of God--and I do believe there is a God--then this was it.  Sure, some people might choose to call it luck. Too me, luck, is taking advantage of a situation God puts in front of us. The woman's name was Erin. She was tall as me and had a great laugh. And she was a practicing attorney."
All of the members of Kiss throughout its history
    The only negative criticism I have about Paul's book is that I realize now what a stumbling block Peter and Ace eventually became for the band as well as their originally manager Bill Aucoin.  Some of the things, he writes about Peter and Ace are sometimes overbearing but I have to admit, they did say and do some stupid shit according to Paul in the book.  Also, I couldn't understand why he didn't invite Gene to his wedding to Erin. Technically, I understand his reasoning why and the principal behind it because Gene went around for years stating to the public and press that he did not believe in the institution of marriage.  Of course, Gene finally married Shannon after many years on their reality show, "Family Jewels."  But come on, Gene is Paul's best friend and business partner.  Gene even took Paul in and let him live in his guest house when him and his first wife separated and Gene and Paul hung out together doing things together during those times.  I feel like it probably really hurt Gene's feelings but I'm sure would never would admit it.
    In this book, I realize that Paul Stanley, at age 62, as a musician, a rock star, a husband, a father and as a human being is now self-actualized.  Throughout the book, Paul was not to afraid to admit that he pretty much has or had sought out the help of a psychiatrist and counseling to deal with a lot of his personal issues even an early age.  I really admire that. And the fact that he is strictly a hard driving, creator, co-musician and the mega force behind Kiss, who has always tried to keep the band moving forward, Paul Stanley has achieved a mountain of success in his lifetime by somebody who pulled himself up by the booth straps and did it on his own along with three other unknown musicians in make-up from NYC.  But the beautiful thing about Paul Stanley, the rock star, is that he also found the inner beauty of life with a family-his wife and four children. When he is not on the road or on tour, he admits these days he would rather be home with his family at his mansion in the hills of LA over looking the ocean, baking pizza in his brick oven on his patio. And he admits, it's not about the money anymore because you know he is worth millions of dollars like Gene, but it's about quality family time.  He admits that he loves cooking too for family and friends and I think that's really cool.  I can understand that.  That's where his human side really shines through to me.  Here you have a rock star who has survived the music business for 40 years and still rocking on the stage.  He is also business partners with Gene, owning a chain of restaurants and an arena football team.  And now he is a published author with a best selling book and a highly successful book signing tour.  I  suppose that I will never meet Paul Stanley in person again or stand that close to him.  However, after reading his book, I realize that he is just a human being just like you and me but had a drive to succeed and never give up like no other person in the music industry has before. Also, I think he sincerely cares about Kiss fans and is interested in their lives like we are his.  But thanks to modern technology, you can reach out to him on daily basis on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Just remember, Paul Stanley is "Watchin You" because he'll see that you are watching "The Starchild" too.  Go buy and read the book.  You won't be disappointed and you find it hard to put it down.  Thanks Paul Stanley for sharing your life with us!

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