As a young teen I became a KISS fan. I was fourteen and my older sisters had visited Halifax and seen KISS and Cheap Trick play at the Halifax Forum. They came home with amazing stories of fire bombs and glow sticks. I was so jealous and I became hooked. For the next year or so, KISS totally ruled - until I discovered Van Halen. Although no longer fanatical, I have followed the band ever since. And I finally got see them play in concert a few years ago, albeit with no glow sticks.
Paul Stanley's autobiography, Face the Music: a life exposed is a super interesting read for any KISS fan, but also for more casual rock music fans. I think it also a great cautionary tale for aspiring rock musicians. Stanley is very open about all the mistakes and strange choices that were made in the pursuit of fame.
As with most titles in the genre, a big appeal is the nostalgia evoked by recalling the music of the time. Fans of rock music will find much to reminisce about. KISS toured with many famous bands, such as RUSH, The New York Dolls, Aerosmith, and so on. It also covers the MTV period, with the all the emphasis suddenly on video and big hair. Interesting times indeed!
I had many of my perceptions about KISS changed, especially about Paul's personality and motivations, a few rumours confirmed, such as who didn't play on certain songs, and a whole host of new information about the players behind the scenes, such Bill Aucoin and Neil Bogart. Paul also reveals a shocker about himself at the very beginning of the book. Something that I was totally surprised to find out.
What readers won't find in this memoir are many lurid details about sex and drugs. Paul certainly had more than his fair share of the former and had little interest in the latter. Sex was a major part of his life on the road and he does talk about about some celebrity girlfriends, such as Donna Dixon and Samantha Fox. But he doesn't really kiss and tell.
His band mates are big part of the book. Peter Criss and Ace Frehley are portrayed in a very unfavourable light. Reading about their antics left me wondering how Paul and Gene Simmons ever put up with them. Twice! Later band members fair much better. Although second drummer Eric Carr's tale is certainly a sad one. It is Paul's one big regret.
One criticism I have of the book is that I felt Paul held back on his relationship with Gene Simmons. He alludes to many frustrations and selfishness on Gene's part, but falls short of really holding him accountable. Maybe that comes later.
Rock and Roll All Nite and Read Every Day!