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Face the Music: A Life Exposed

Face the Music: A Life Exposed

4.4 48
by Paul Stanley

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In Face the Music, Paul Stanley—the co-founder and famous “Starchild” frontman of KISS—reveals for the first time the incredible highs and equally incredible lows in his life both inside and outside the band. Face the Music is the shocking, funny, smart, inspirational story of one of rock’s most enduring icons and the


In Face the Music, Paul Stanley—the co-founder and famous “Starchild” frontman of KISS—reveals for the first time the incredible highs and equally incredible lows in his life both inside and outside the band. Face the Music is the shocking, funny, smart, inspirational story of one of rock’s most enduring icons and the group he helped create, define, and immortalize.

Stanley mixes compelling personal revelations and gripping, gritty war stories that will surprise even the most steadfast member of the KISS Army. He takes us back to his childhood in the 1950s and ’60s, a traumatic time made more painful thanks to a physical deformity. Born with a condition called microtia, he grew up partially deaf, with only one ear. But this instilled in him an inner drive to succeed in the most unlikely of pursuits: music.

With never-before-seen photos and images throughout, Stanley’s memoir is a fully realized and unflinching portrait of a rock star, a chronicle of the stories behind the famous anthems, the many brawls and betrayals, and all the drama and pyrotechnics on and off the stage. Raw and confessional, Stanley offers candid insights into his personal relationships, and the turbulent dynamics with his bandmates over the past four decades. And no one comes out unscathed—including Stanley himself.

People say I was brave to write such a revealing book, but I wrote it because I needed to personally reflect on my own life. I know everyone will see themselves somewhere in this book, and where my story might take them is why I’m sharing it.” —Paul Stanley

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Born with an ear deformity called microtia—a condition in which cartilage on the outer ear fails to from properly—which left him with an ugly stump on the right side of his head, Stanley, co-founder and lead singer of KISS, faced ridicule and taunts from classmates and found little sympathy or affection from his unhappy family. By the time he was 12, the Beatles blew into his world on the Ed Sullivan Show, and he discovered rock and roll; he eventually picked up a guitar, joined a band, and music eventually became his refuge. Elegantly and thoughtfully, Stanley takes us behind the mask of Starchild, his KISS persona, and shares intimately his own insecurities about his physical appearance and his emotional life. Along the way, he chronicles the meteoric rise of KISS—he and Gene Klein, who changes his last name to Simmons, just as Stanley Eisen becomes Paul Stanley, start playing in a band in high school—in the 1970s, their difficulties, and their eventual fall from fame. Throughout the glory years, Stanley remains lonely and feels like an outsider off stage. In 1998, his starring role in the Phantom of the Opera dramatically prompts Stanley to face himself: “Why had I let my birth defect keep me from sharing myself with people, from embracing people—from embracing the fullness of life?” He starts working with children with facial deformities in an organization called About Face, and here he movingly shares the lessons he’s learned: “It’s not about being perfect, being normal, or seeking approval; it’s about being forgiving of imperfection, being generous to all sorts of people, and giving approval.” (Apr.)
No SourceJimmy Page
“Paul Stanley proves himself as an artist in music and on canvas and now with a great book.”
Library Journal
Before Stanley cofounded the rock band KISS, he was Stanley Harvey Eisen, a boy born partially deaf with a stump for an ear. Kids were unkind, and he had an unhappy childhood and unsatisfying family life. College wasn't for him, but he found his calling in writing and performing music, not letting his birth defect stop him. After working hard and hanging out with the right people, KISS became larger than life for a time, but drugs and egos interfered. Stanley never gave up, though, and managed to keep the band alive as musicians came, went, or lost focus and as the music scene changed. This year marks the 40th anniversary of KISS's first album, and Stanley has seemingly found happiness and stability with the current lineup of members, his children, and his second wife. The author is the last of the founding KISS members to tell his story in a book, and the result, while entertaining and revealing, is bloated with analogies and euphemisms. Apparently, very few people in his life failed to disappoint him in some way, and he incessantly makes his disdain for former bandmate Peter Criss abundantly clear. Despite all the negativity, though, Stanley wishes to inspire readers to improve their lives and be happy. VERDICT Essential for the KISS Army and for fans of rock and roll tell-alls.—Samantha Gust, Niagara Univ. Lib., NY
Kirkus Reviews
KISS' flamboyant "Starchild" unplugs his high-wattage amps and introduces fans to an even more intriguing character: Stanley Harvey Eisen. Few who experienced the power of a KISS concert during the 1970s could have imagined that one of the preening men commanding the exploding stage in makeup and high heels was actually an anxiety-riddled loner from Queens hiding a rare facial deformity called microtia. Growing up, the condition left Stanley half deaf with a "stump of an ear" that prompted sensitive neighborhood kids to jeer him as "the monster." The axe-slinger behind some of KISS' most anthemic songs displays a laudable frankness in discussing those troubled times, made all the more trying thanks to a set of emotionally unavailable parents and a mentally disturbed sibling. The bleakness of the music-obsessed teen's existence eventually drove him to seek out his own psychotherapist. Still, the author possessed an almost uncanny certainty that music would be his life. That unconquerable drive, coupled with a deep and abiding desire to belong to something, brought him into the orbits of three decidedly disparate characters: Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Stanley describes the halcyon days of KISS' formation as the realization of his dreams—but there were problems from the inception. Despite a dynamic conceived as a sort of fun-house reflection of the Beatles, the KISS brotherhood, as Stanley regards it now, was always built on suspect fortifications. Those weaknesses would come to light at the end of the 1970s, after the band had already conquered the world and intra-band friction took hold. Stanley recounts the worst of it—the 1996 reunion tour that, while successful, fell woefully short of the bombastic comeback the Starchild had envisioned. None of Stanley's band mates escape his withering criticism, but Criss is clearly his favorite target. At peace with the state of KISS today, Stanley reveals that the most precious things in his life now are his sense of enlightened awareness and cooking elaborate meals with the wife and kids. An indispensable part of KISStory.
Mitch Albom
“An entertaining yet piercingly honest journey from self–conscious child to the world’s most visually famous rock band, to, finally—with the makeup wiped away—a place of peace as a father and a man. Paul Stanley’s story is both ordinary and extraordinary, which makes it inspiring.”
Guitar World Magazine
“For years the members hid their true identities behind cartoon personas and hard rock anthems... After years of carefully maintaining his Starchild superhero identity, Stanley lets down his guard and unleashes a torrent of pent-up feelings that erupt and flow over 400 pages like molten lava.”
“Most people will probably not associate sensitivity with the flamboyant heavy-metal rock band KISS, and yet in his memoir, front man, rhythm guitarist, and cofounder Paul Stanley succeeds in making a connection with the reader, KISS fan or not.”
Sir Elton John
“Both honest and inspirational. Amazing tales from one of rock’s great frontmen.”
Jimmy Page
“Paul Stanley proves himself as an artist in music and on canvas and now with a great book.”
Dave Grohl
“Paul is a great man who has achieved great things. From the Popcorn Club all the way to the Hall of Fame, his story is inspiring and motivating for anyone who dreams big.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)


Meet the Author

Paul Stanley is the frontman and rhythm guitarist for KISS, which he cofounded in New York City in 1973. He is the designer of numerous KISS album covers, costumes, and concert stages, in addition to writing many of KISS's most successful songs. With sales of more than one hundred million records worldwide, KISS sits atop the list of American bands, with the most gold-certified albums earned in history. Along with his bandmates, Stanley was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. A painter, with art sales reaching two million dollars; a solo musician; a musical stage performer; founding partner in Rock & Brews restaurants; and co-owner of the Arena Football League's L.A. KISS, Stanley is a committed and active supporter of various Wounded Warrior Project organizations. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Erin, and four children.

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Face the Music: A Life Exposed 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew this book would bring out the KISS haters and according to one of the Anonymous reviews it did. I'm sure this book is better than any of the "drivel" he/she can write.  BTW, have you ever heard of Van Halen, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Garth Brooks, Metallica, Lenny Kravitz, Poison and Motley Crew?  Just a few of many influenced by KISS.  It would be nice if people did their research before making ignorant comments.  Great book, great man, great band.  Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book!!!! Definately was worth the wait. Paul was very honest from the beginning,from his childhood where he had to overcome such a stigma of his deformality to the crazy way Kiss began and all the ups and downs of the 80's ..finding love and children..dealing with certain band members addictions and egos if you're a fan of Kiss this is the book to read...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once upon a time I had a crush on him. Now after reading his articulate honest biography, I adore him. We are all broken. We can all be fixed. Well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down... I have met Paul personally and he was nothing but kind and cordial. Amazing story of how he overcame the youth adversity and abuse he suffered to live in his own skin comfortably and happy! BRAVO!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After waiting years for all the stories by the man who made them happen and lived them, this book does indeed tell it all: the heartache, the pain, the joys and the ecstasy. There are stories and anecdotes from every phase in his life, both the good and the bad, which describes what turns a man into a rock and roll legend (dare I say "God"?). After all of the years of waiting, I am thrilled to say that the wait was worth it. The author truly shows that, as well as being famous for strumming a guitar and strutting on a stage, he is also human; with all of the pains and frailties that we all have and live with every day. Then there is the joy and happiness in life. His feelings when he takes the stage, regardless of what occurs before or after. His loves, his problems, his ups and his downs are all stated, as in No Holds Barred. Love him or not, love the band or not, I feel this book gives a look into the life and soul of a legend. This book could not have been before, it would not have been complete. The time was right, the way it was told was captivating and enticing. "God Gave Rock and Roll to You", but I also thank Him for giving us Paul Stanley and I thank him for giving us this opportunity to learn and experience his life through his own words. Thank you.
Anonymous 7 months ago
I'm familiar with about 1 song by Kiss...but as an old hack bass guitar player in my own band, I'm fascinated with the real deal; the life style, the equipment, thepersonality conflics and Mr Stanley got me into his book--although this book was an obvious therapeutic psycho-exorcism project for Paul. Regardless, I dont think he's the human freak we'd expect a pampered old rocker to be, but indeed a very cool guy. Well written. Review by Tallman
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading the bios from Ace and Peter, I was expecting this book to be a testament to how awesome Paul is, and how no one else in the band contributed. While there was a little self aggrandizement, there wasn't as much as I expected. Paul is brutally honest in his opinions of the other band members, as well as himself. Definitely worth the read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you wonder how one becomes a rock star this is the book for you. I couldn't help but laugh as Paul discussed growing up and his parents not giving him any direction. It will hit home with many readers. Ever wonder what happened to Ace and Peter ? This book will answer those questions too. I'm not a KISS fan but this book does keep you wanting more. Rock and Roll ! augh when Paul tells his story about growing up
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typhoon More than 1 year ago
Very well written. Paul did a great job of making you feel the highs and lows of a life that wasn't the party it seemed to be. Nice to see that behind the make up he's just like the rest of us with the same problems only on a different scale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
To me the best of the four. Hands down!
BabyJ69 More than 1 year ago
I am a KISS fan and most of all a Paul Stanley fan!! This book was hard to put down and placed so much of his life into perspective for me that I never knew. Admire him even more now!
uptheirons63 More than 1 year ago
OK, My second book from a member of KISS, and probably my favorite member of the band. Which I started following in 1975. That being said, some of the chapters in this book feel very bitter to me, and were a little depressing. As it goes on, you begin to get a better scope of what Paul is going for. I identify a great deal with his childhood, and I appreciate his candor. If you are a fan of the band, and need more details of their rise and fall, and rise again history. This will help fill in the gaps.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After reading Gene's, Ace's and Peters books and being a huge fan of the original group and not liking the idea of what Paul and Gene have been doing with the Cat and Spaceman makeup.... I went into this reading with a disliking for the two them.....I've come away with a better understanding of the Starchild. He is the heart and soul behind KISS and I thank him for clearing so much BS up. Great Read..!!!!