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How Kiss' Reunion Almost Fell Apart: Preview Paul Stanley's Memoir

Read an exclusive chapter from the Kiss guitarist's upcoming autobiography 'Face The Music: A Life Exposed'

March 31, 2014 4:05 PM ET
Paul Stanley
Paul Stanley
Fin Costello/Redferns

Paul Stanley is the last member of the original Kiss lineup to pen a memoir, but his upcoming book Face The Music: A Life Exposed is still an essential read for all fans of the pioneering hard rock band. For the first time ever, the Starchild reveals that he was born with one ear, causing horrendous emotional pain. He also gets into great detail about the wild early days of Kiss, his battles with all three original members of the band and how he carried the group all through the 1980s while longtime partner Gene Simmons was largely engaged with other projects. In this exclusive excerpt — which comes alongside the band's first-ever appearance on Rolling Stone's cover — Stanley gives his side of the tumultuous Kiss "Farewell Tour" in 2000. 

Peter posted a sign every day counting down the number of days left on the Farewell Tour. He started painting a teardrop below his eye. I thought it made him look like Emmett Kelly's famous Weary Willie character, the tragic clown who toured with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. And as for the rest of his makeup, it was as if he had forgotten how to do it. He started to look like a panda bear, with big rectangles around his eyes.

The tour was horrible. Constant drudgery and misery. We spent all of our energy trying to coax Peter and Ace out of their hotel rooms. Ace sucker-punched Tommy at one of the shows. Peter had his usual handbook detailing how hotel staff had to treat him and which windows had to be covered with tinfoil and all that. There was no reasoning with either of them. We never knew if we'd make it to a show on time, and once we got onstage we never knew whether we'd get through the show. I mean, if a guy has trouble putting on his makeup, how is he going to play? Not surprisingly, the shows could be pretty awful.

I was angry at Peter and Ace for being disrespectful toward everything we had accomplished and everything the fans were giving us. I bought into the idea that this really was it. The end of Kiss. There was no place to go. it was unbearable.

We were stuck in a rut musically as well – basically playing the same 17 songs we'd taught them for the initial reunion. This was the third tour with the same set list. Peter and Ace just couldn't master any more. The needle was already into the red. I had to come up with nonsensical interview responses to questions about why we were playing the same songs. I couldn't just say, "because Peter and Ace can't learn any others."

One night during a show Doc McGhee tried to get my attention from the side of the stage, gesturing up at me and holding his nose.

Huh?

"You stink!" he yelled. I walked over to him during a break between songs. "What did you say?"

"You stink!" he repeated. "Fucking Peter is playing too slow," I told him. Doc ran around behind the drum riser and started making the same gesture at Peter. "Peter, you're playing too slow!" "Well, so are they!" Peter shouted back. "What are you talking about?" Doc screamed. "You're the fucking drummer!" Another night Peter had a new problem. He stopped playing in the middle of a song and just held his sticks up and looked at me like a deer in the headlights. I yelled, "Play!" and started tapping my foot so at least he would start hitting the drums again. That happened on more than one occasion.

A well-known musician – who had seen the band many times – approached me one night and said, "I can't come to any more shows. It's just too painful to listen to."

The worst feeling was reading reviews trashing the shows and thinking, "That's spot on." It was such a shame because the band could have been great and wasn't. The drama offstage and the hostility and resentment and backstabbing was taking a heavy musical toll. And then there were the drugs. When Ace had an off night and made a lot of mistakes, we would joke that his mixture was off.

It would have been great to go out in a blaze of musical glory; instead, we were dragging our asses. At one point we put aside a few days to brush up on songs and tighten things up. Ace didn't show for one of the rehearsals. He said he wasn't feeling well because he had Lyme disease – an illness brought on by the bite of a deer tick. Peter, brainiac that he is, said, "That's bullshit! He was never bitten by a deer!"

Am I living in an insane asylum?

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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