Paul Stanley turns 59

Today is Paul Stanley’s 59th birthday.

I’m not sure why I’m choosing to blog about such an occasion, save for the fact that I grew up loving KISS and, especially, Paul Stanley.

First, Paul Stanley (born Stanley Harvey Eisen) is Jewish, which was a huge deal for me as a kid. Second, he and the rest of KISS intimidated the hell out of me when I was a boy. I remember, vividly, sitting in my den, listening to the Destroyer album, staring at the cover for hours upon hours. In its prime KISS was a bad-ass band, and that the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame continues to overlook the group’s impact is shameful.

I’ve actually interviewed Stanley twice, both via phone. The first time was unmemorable—KISS was coming to Nashville and I got him for, oh, 10 minutes. Three or four years ago, however, we spoke again. This time I was doing a freelance piece for a children’s magazine. The topic was Why Kids Love the Music They Love. At the time my daughter Casey, age 3 or 4, has followed my lead and loved all things KISS. She had a KISS poster above her bed (my wife insisted we had to use black marker over Peter Criss’ bare chest), she once had Gene Simmons makeup applied to her face at a state fair (the moment I most wished I’d had a camera with me) and, in the car, we listened to KISS Unplugged over and over and over again. Her favorite song was Rock Bottom, and we probably heard it, oh, 400 times. She’s 7, and she still digs it.

Anyhow, I got Stanley on the phone, and when I told him about muy daughter he was genuinely tickled. He spoke about Unplugged and Rock Bottom at length. When we were wrapping up he said, “OK, Jeff. Do me a favor and give your daughter a big kiss for me and tell her I appreciate her loving our music.”

I thought that was incredibly cool.