Paul Stanley: ‘Backstage Pass’ (book)

Released on April 30, 2019 (HarperOne)

One of my favorite bands of all time is KISS, so when Paul Stanley announced he was writing a follow up book to his 2014 Face The Music: A Life Exposed book, I was very excited.

Face The Music, in my opinion, was the best book out of those written by KISS members. I felt Peter Criss’ book was just full of bashing and anger, and I was never a big Ace Frehley fan to buy his book (although I read it via the local library). I liked Gene Simmons‘ KISS And Make Up, but Paul’s book seemed honest and was just an all out entertaining read.

Stanley’s latest writing, Backstage Pass (HarperOne, 2019) is very different than his last book. The first book was an autobiography, telling about his life growing up, and his time in the band. The second writing is more of Stanley’s thoughts and views on how to live a happy life, along with his opinions on certain values that he was instilled with throughout his life.

Backstage Pass is not a typical “I am rich and successful, and here is how you can be too” writing, which Simmons has used in a few of his past releases. I have always been skeptical on books like that, especially in Gene’s books, where he has stated that he worked two and three jobs, while being able to play in bands on weekends. This may have worked in the 1970s, but many employers (especially where I live) not only hand out part-time jobs, but getting the weekends off is unheard of, nor will they work around other schedules. Nonetheless, Stanley’s advice is detailed on advice that anyone can use, no matter what the person’s living situation is all about.

Some of Stanley’s stories involve him going back to his childhood apartment to show his children what kind of youth he had, to the KISS Kruise in 2017, when he re-connected with Peter Criss’ ex-wife. Paul discusses his family’s religious values, and the concept of starting his side band Soul Station. Stanley also covers why he does not have unreleased songs from his past, as opposed to Simmons and his vault of songs.

Don’t be confused though, in thinking that this another book filled with KISS stories, because it is not. There are some tales about KISS, but they are far and between. The book is mainly Stanley discussing topics like “the only person that you can change is yourself,” not having a bucket list (because instead of crossing off goals, you should continuing adding goals), and “relationships shouldn’t have an agenda.” Stanley uses some stories about KISS, his loves for cooking and painting as a backdrop for examples of his topics, but if you are looking for a continuation of tales from the previous book, you may be a little let down.

This is not to say that the book is a bad read by any means. The title Backstage Pass isn’t misleading, but it is not what a reader may originally think the book is presented. The reader gets the backstage look at Stanley’s more private life beyond the spotlight. Some of the great tales in the writing is how he discusses how depressed he was during the Creatures of the Night tour, where the band was playing for half full arenas, and how he wanted to take the makeup off during that time instead of waiting until the Lick It Up album, to his dislike of the Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions record from 1997, and his thoughts on bands such as Yes and The Eagles not having all original members in the line-up.

Most of the press on the book deals with the segment where Stanley talks about Criss, stating that Peter has spent his time being negative, along with his time dealing with him during the reunion tour, where Stanley writes that Criss was rude to all the hotel staff, and everyone around him. KISS fans, much like fans of The Beatles, are very passionate and have their own favorite members who they side with when it comes to the break up and press attacks of each other. Regardless of whose side you take (it’s usually Gene and Paul vs everyone else), the reader will either find Stanley’s views throughout the book as an honest person who has matured from his previous days, or will find him hypocritical with his sincerity. As a reader who has only met one member of KISS — Eric Singer when he played with Alice Cooper — I have to give the author the benefit of the doubt, because Stanley does not spend his time writing pages filled with hate or anger. This, to me, is a book where the writer expresses mistakes from his past, along with informing the reader on things he learn the hard way , so to speak.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable read, much better than Gene’s latest on the 27 Club in music. Stanley’s book is just different in that the KISS tales are just to give a side note to the points he is trying to make. One does not even have to be a KISS fan to read this and take some valuable information away from it.

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Reviewed by Lance Lumley for Sleaze Roxx, May 2019

Reproduced from Lance Lumley‘s own website with slight edits.