PAUL STANLEY

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

“I am Kiss! And I mean that in the best way. I consider KISS my band.”

Paul Stanley guitarworld.com

The pinnacle of rock ‘n’ roll can be defined in many ways, but maximum rock ‘n’ roll is clear to see when you observe this weeks player spotlight.

A truly exquisite combination of down and dirty rock ‘n’ roll along with equal amounts of theatricality and alter ego characters. Flamboyance is more than an expression but a right of passage with this edition’s player.

A player that has embedded his signature riffs into society along with his instantly recognisable image. A driving force and unwavering voice of one of musics most iconic bands. A visionary and trendsetter since the early 1970s, his passion for both the musical and visual arts has perhaps been the key to the astonishing ongoing worldwide phenomenon known as KISS. 💋

Let’s look at the man and make up that form Mr Paul Stanley🤘 

Image credit: Jen Rosenstein

A Visionary Virtuoso

Discovering the foundations behind such a huge figure of rock ‘n’ roll is always going to be interesting. Just observing from a distance, Paul Stanley is a huge presence with a character so much larger than life, it’s sometimes hard to understand where he begins and the character ends and vice versa of course. 😉

For well over 30 years Paul Stanley has been one of rock ‘n’ roll’s most instantly recognisable figures, a massively inspirational artistic figure who has perfectly combined visual and musical aspects to carve out a lasting legacy.  

The timeline begins on the 20th January 1952 in Manhattan, New York. Born Stanley Bert Eisen to Jewish parents William Eisen & Eva Eisen of Polish descent. His parents, like many back then were music lovers, and would listen to Beethoven and a range of light classical opera.

Music was an inspiration and comfort to Stanley as a youngster due to the fact that he was born with a birth defect “Microtia”. This meant that his right ear had not formed correctly and was misshapen and underdeveloped; this in turn meant he could not hear out of his right ear so he was partially deaf.

This would of course pose a challenge to anybody in any situation let alone somebody that wanted to become a musician later in life – clearly this is something that shifted his focus and may have heightened his senses in a compensated way. 🎼 

Regardless of his hearing disability Stanley really enjoyed listening to music from a young age, he would watch American Bandstand on television and discover musicians such as Eddie Cochran, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.

He learned to sing harmonies with his family and was given a child’s guitar at the age of seven.

The next significant moment in his musical history was when he first saw the Beatles and the Rolling Stones on television, at the age of 13 he received his first real guitar which was an acoustic guitar.

It was a welcome gift but also somewhat of a disappointment to a young man engrossed in electric guitars all over the television. Electric guitars had become such a fashion movement at the time and distorted rhythms, riffs and hooks we are really dominating the popular music scene.

Paul Stanley (Official) – Facebook

A talented individual in many ways Stanley was recognised first and foremost for natural talent and keen eye for graphic design. He had a natural expression and flair for art and creativity, something that will cross paths with his musical career later down the line and join in unity as part of his artistic representation.

He attended the High School Of Music & Arts in New York City and graduated in 1970, a great achievement and brilliant that his artistic methods were recognised and appreciated. 🎨 

🌟💋 KISS 💋 🌟 

Kissonline.com

When we think of rock ‘n’ roll at its absolute height of excess we generally get an image in mind. The image that crosses your mind will almost certainly contain this fun bunch of characters. 👅  

Stanley started out in a local band called “Rainbow”, then through other musical acquaintances he merged into several bands, “Uncle Joe” and then “Post War Baby Boom” 💥 A mutual friend at the time aided the ultimate link up between Gene Simmons and soon-to-be Paul Stanley.

Stanley Bert Eisen changed his name to Paul Stanley through inspiration of the names Paul McCartney and Paul Rogers, he disliked his birth name and also change his name for showbiz purposes. ⭐️

Gene Simmons was involved with a band called “Wicked Lester”. An album was recorded in 1972 but never officially released, the band struggled with identity and was soon renamed KISS.

They got to work straight away! Once recruiting a few more members, the line up was complete but the solid unity was between Gene & Paul, and remains to this day.

The debut album was released once they were signed but received only a lukewarm response and was not an overnight success; what KISS became famous for was their elaborate stage wear: painted faces and all-out Glamrock-to-the-MAX look!  

Image via – paulstanley.com

The key detail that is so interesting about this extravagant band is the fact that they are driven by rhythmic hooks and solid melody.

Many musicians focus on developing technique and playing skills, which is a natural progression, however it seems in modern day society we’re led to believe that a great guitar player has to display extravagant and virtuosic playing skills that defy belief.

Many musicians focus on developing technique and lead playing skills, this is of course a natural progression and desire in modern day society and music, we are almost automatically trying to think that guitar player must be a great guitar player if he can display extravagantly guitar playing skills that defy belief.

Image credit: Jen Rosenstein

This is where KISS really have their own individual identity, they are of course all exceptional musicians and great, effortless players that can do the job dressed up to the max 😉  But, it’s their attention to detail and consideration of the groove that drivers the song.

Paul talks in detail about what rhythm guitar means to him and how it should not be seen as a stepping stone to playing the guitar but appreciated and respected in its own right; a truly amazing overview here from a very accomplished musician who is clearly content with his own playing style and ability.

“Paul Stanley:
I was always taken with the idea of rhythm and the percussive-ness and that you could lead with the rhythm. For me, being a rhythm player was never a stepping stone to being a lead player. Too often people either forgo spending time learning and understanding rhythm playing and think that it’s more important to know how to solo. Surprisingly or not so much I can remember there were guys, there were kids who were very flashy on lead guitar, but as soon as you ask them to, “Okay, now back me up,” they were lost. I think you can spend a lifetime working on your rhythm.” 

Paul Stanley – Ernie Ball String Theory

A great insight and overview of what guitar playing really means to him personally and how he translates the ideas in his head. A perfect example of what he’s trying to convey is in this all time classic. 🎸 

KISS has released 24 studio albums until now and are regarded as one of the most successful rock bands of all time. They have sold more than 75 million copies of their albums worldwide.

The band also holds the record for the highest number of “gold”-certified albums, with 30 “gold” albums to their credit, including their live albums and compilation albums. In 2014, the four original members of the band were inducted into the ‘Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“Stanley designed and created the iconic KISS logo which – 40 years on – remains universally recognised as one of the greatest logos of the 20th century.

His artistic and visual input has been and continues to be seen in his designs of KISS album covers, stages and apparel.”

paulstanley.com

Paul Stanley:
The core of what we do is a kick ass rock and roll band. I’ve been doing this 40 plus years, which to me was completely inconceivable 40 plus years ago. For me to play in front of people around the world and have them know those songs and to have them as viable as the day I wrote them is pretty amazing. Sometimes I think about we’re going to do one of the newer songs, well Lick It Up came out 30 years ago. So the fact that it’s stood the test of time and is still relevant, there’s a lot of satisfaction in that because a lot of what people or critics tended to consider credible or valid fell by the wayside and has become dated. But real rock and roll transcends all that. It
transcends make up. Real rock and roll transcends bombs, smoke machines, lifts. Real rock and roll lasts.

Paul Stanley – Ernie Ball String Theory

⭐️ Starchild Strings 

We have come to understand that every iconic player is almost certainly settled on a particular set of strings with a very specific gauge and everything has to be just right to generate their signature sound and delivery.

Paul Stanley is no exception to this rock ‘n’ roll mythology, his understanding of what he wants and what he needs to get the results required is truly humbling. He manages to convey exactly why he uses the strings to get the results he needs.

His philosophy on rhythm and having the correct strings is truly awe-inspiring, I personally find it amazing how much he’s glamorised and added such a positive forward-thinking outlook to rhythm guitar and how fundamental is to push the song and the band as a leading standpoint or if you will the backbone.

Image – Ibanez.com

Paul Stanley:
If a song can’t be played on a single instrument, it’s not a good song. I’ve always believed that you can always embellish and lengthen something, but the core has to be a great song. You need an intro, you need a verse, you need a pre-chorus. You need a chorus that once you hear, it’s not by chance that it’s called a hook. It’s supposed to grab you. Once you hear the hook, you should anticipate it coming back again. People break the rules, but you really should know the rules before you break them. I’m pretty satisfied with the rules so I’ve always stuck to them.

Paul Stanley – Ernie Ball String Theory

The descriptive nature he uses to convey his love of strings and his understanding of what’s required for the sound he wants is really something amazing read if I’m honest, so refreshing to see such a long-standing rockstar conversed so openly on a level we can all relate to.

All of the above considered let’s not disregard that he is getting an absolutely incredible tone here! He doesn’t disclose what  amp is being used but you can hear it from the strings, that is the sound of rock ‘n’ roll – Ernie Ball Slinky’s. 🤘

Top player and top personality everything rockstar royalty should be. 😎 

Paul Stanley:
One thing that Ernie Ball, that I can always remember, was it was the packages that your eye immediately went to because of the colours. Funny enough, when I first started playing electric guitar, I got flat-lined strings because they didn’t squeak. It took a while to realise that the squeaking is part of what makes it cool. There was a lot of trial and error figuring out what strings worked. I still remember a time where I would go to a guitar store and buy a single string because I couldn’t afford a whole pack. To me to play great rhythm, you need stiff strings. Whatever your fingers can handle is the way to go. When you have those wobbly strings, I’ve seen how people play. To me that’s not rock and roll. Rock and roll is about the glory of the the arm swing, the down push. I want the glory of those big chords. Think of a piano. There’s that great authority when you hit a chord, the strings aren’t undulating. There’s a definitive quality to it. Those thicker strings make for a much more emphatic cord.”

Paul Stanley – Ernie Ball String Theory

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REFERENCES

paulstanley.com
https://ernieball.co.uk/stringtheory/paul-stanley
https://www.facebook.com/PaulStanleyOfficial/photos/young-boy-big-plans-throwbackthursday/10150382813614967/
https://www.kissonline.com
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Stanley
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/paul-stanley-4049.php
https://www.ibanez.com/usa/artists/detail/1156.html
https://www.paulstanley.com/bio/
https://www.paulstanley.com/artwork/
https://www.guitarworld.com/artists/kiss-legends-gene-simmons-and-paul-stanley-talk-ace-frehley-vinnie-vincent-bruce-kulick-and-more


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