An Open Letter to Paul Stanley, On His Birthday

PaulStanley-cakePaul, happy birthday, my friend. Another year has passed and you’re still rockin’ as hard as ever. Good for you, pal. Good for you.

It’s well known in my circles that you’ve been a huge influence since ‘Alive II’ was released. I was only nine-years-old then but quickly joined the ranks of the KISS Army and remain enlisted to this day. My remaining childhood and adolescence included as much merchandise and albums/cassettes (and later CDs and MP3s) as I could collect. I spent hours reading magazine interviews and looking at photos and my entire room was covered in KISS posters. Even though I knew I was one of many, being a KISS fan back then seemed to have a clubhouse intimacy that I cherished.

I am still in awe at the band’s trajectory and how your hard work and tenacity propelled you to superstardom and KISS as a dominating musical force in a relatively short period of time … and all in a pre-Internet/Social Media world nonetheless. Within four years of your first show the band was on top of the world. It’s an amazing feat, really. One not realized by many. But then again, few have had the drive and the wherewithal to tour constantly, release two albums a year and promote itself relentlessly! I often find myself comparing the music scene/industry of the 1970s to subsequent decades and I’ve come to the conclusion that you and the boys took full advantage of every available opportunity throughout that magical time.

Oh, and I’d like to apologize for the snubbing my then girlfriend (now wife) Gayle gave you back in 1998. I’m sure it’s been weighing on your mind as it has mine!

It was December 17, 1998. I was living in Chicago at the time and the Virgin Megastore had only recently opened on Michigan Avenue. It was early evening and Gayle and I were headed to a corporate holiday party. We decided to kill some time before by exploring the new “record store.” As we were leaving and approaching the door, I stopped to zip up my coat and put on my gloves. Gayle kept moving and was standing about 15 feet ahead of me. And then I saw you walk in.

PaulStanleyThere was no mistaking that it was you. After all, I’d been looking at your mug for 21 years at that time. You were on your cell phone and as you walked by I tapped you on the shoulder and softly said “Paul?” I was so impressed that you immediately ended your call and stopped to visit with me. You asked what I’d purchased (Faces reissues) and we talked about that great band and their amazing songs. We talked about KISS’ concert the next night in Rockford and whether Rick Nielsen would be there (he was expected) and then I asked if I could introduce you to my girlfriend. You eagerly agreed and I turned to Gayle and made the introduction. You extended your hand and … and … and … she turned away and left you hanging. I was mortified and could only giggle like a maniac. You were a good sport and quipped something along the lines of, “I must be losing it, I have a reputation for doing well with the ladies.” We then said our goodbyes and I left the store. As soon as we were outside Gayle asked me if you were one of my “band buddies”. When I told her who you were she was a bit outraged that I hadn’t made any introductions. She saw the humor and the horror as I explained what had transpired and we’ve had a good laugh about it over the years. In fact, it’s become one of my favorite stories to tell about her. But, again, on her behalf, I’m sorry.

She did make it up to me about a year later with a trip to Toronto to see you star in the Phantom of the Opera. You were amazing in that role, by the way. And that performance/run is another feather in your cap and great supporting evidence that you are one of the greatest frontmen of all time.

Happy birthday.

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