Friday, January 2, 2015


I am a big fan of the music group KISS.  I remember sitting in my bedroom looking at the back of Marvel Comics, seeing Ace, Paul, Gene and Peter on an ad for music posters.  Who were these guys breathing fire and shooting sparks out of a guitar?  My parents had ABBA and Kenny Rogers records.  I had never heard of KISS.  They were mysterious rock gods who were like real-life superheroes.  Fast forward to 2015: Paul Stanley (the guy with the star on his face) is the last of the original members of KISS to write his autobiography, called Face The Music: A Life Exposed and officially complain about his band mates.  I have read the other three books, so now I can die knowing that I have read every word of these old men who love to badmouth the other guys.  One thing in common with these biographies is that in each case, regardless of which book you read, the author is the sane person and the rest of the guys are boobs. 

If you enjoy reading the dirt on other band members and hearing about the struggle to the top, then these biographies are great reads.  Paul Stanley is the front man for KISS and the book is really interesting.  Paul grew up in New York and was born with a deformity (born without one of his ears).  He really delves into it in the book and it is pretty cool to read someone talk honestly about being bullied and mocked.  It is a downer getting made fun of all the time.  He rose above it and spent most of the 1970s famous and (kind of) rich.  Spoiler alert: the lawyers and manager mismanages the money!  Plus there is plenty of sleeping around, crazy band stories and honest talk about what dummies the other members of the band were back then.

Of course, staying at the top as one of the most successful bands in the 1970s is tough -- it doesn't help when the drummer is snorting cocaine and the lead guitarist is drinking champagne for breakfast.  Eventually Ace (guitar) and Peter (drums) were kicked out, and Paul Stanley talks about the lean years in the 1980s, the reunion in the late 1990s, and even confides that him and business partner Gene Simmons don't see eye to eye on some things.  They aren't best friends, but they are respectful business partners who have grown KISS into a bazillion-dollar empire.

My only complaint about this (and any) autobiography is that they are written by the author, so they aren't exactly the poster child for unbiased journalism.  Basically in this book, Paul Stanley is the sane and noble musician and the rest of the original members range from na├»ve but talented egocentric sex maniacs to completely inept buffoons.  Peter Criss sounds so dumb it's a wonder he can barely tie his shoes or remember to eat food on a daily basis.

Here are the four autobiographies -- a must for any KISS fan to read and try to piece together what really happened during those crazy years.  After reading the four books, I can honestly say that I know what it would feel like to sit at the dinner table at Thanksgiving with this dysfunctional family and listen to everyone argue while they pass the stuffing. 

Paul Stanley: Face The Music

Gene Simmons: Kiss and Make-Up

Ace Frehley: No Regrets

Peter Criss: Makeup To Breakup

Who's the respectable musician and who's the dummy? 
It depends on which autobiography you read.