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The Starchild

Along with his longtime companion, Gene Simmons, singer/guitarist/songwriter Paul Stanley has kept KISS rocking and rolling along since the early '70s, successfully navigating through numerous peaks and valleys during the course of their lengthy career. With his posing, prancing, and oft-times corny stage raps, Stanley is one of arena rock's quintessential frontmen. Born Stanley Eisen on January 20, 1952, in Manhattan, NY (but raised in nearby Queens), Stanley began playing guitar and penning his own songs at an early age (the Beatles being a key early influence), as he joined his first band, the Post War Baby Boom, at the age of 15. By the early '70s, Stanley had met another up-and-coming songwriter, bassist/singer Gene Klein, and the two soon began playing together in groups, including Wicked Lester, which recorded an album for Epic that went unreleased. What follows is a story that just about any KISS fan can recite in their sleep: Stanley and Gene soon changed their names to Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, hooked up with drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley, and formed KISS in 1973. It didn't take long for KISS to become one of the most successful (and later, influential) groups of the decade, as their grease-painted faces, costumes, over-the-top stage show, and hard rock anthems struck a chord with teenagers worldwide. Simmons and Stanley penned the lion's share of KISS' songs, with Stanley responsible for such KISS classics as "Rock and Roll All Nite" (co-written with Simmons), "Firehouse," "Strutter," "Detroit Rock City," "Love Gun," "I Was Made for Lovin' You," and even a song that would eventually become Simmons' trademark, "God of Thunder." In 1978, when all four KISS members released their own individual solo albums simultaneously, Stanley's was the most "KISS-sounding" of the bunch, which showed that he was largely responsible for the group's sound/style. At the turn of the '80s, however, KISS' standing among the hard rock masses began to falter (due to a few unfocused albums and merchandise oversaturation), and at the behest of Stanley, the group decided to finally unmask in 1983. The move paid off, as KISS once again became one of hard rock's most popular bands (despite Stanley and Simmons being the only original members left by this point). It was also during the '80s that Stanley nearly produced albums for Guns N' Roses and Poison, but for reasons unknown, that failed to happen. 1989 also saw Stanley launch a brief solo tour along the U.S. East Coast, where he played uncommon KISS songs (many from his 1978 solo set). KISS continued to coast along until the original lineup reunited during the late '90s for an enormously successful tour, before bandmembers began to come and go again. With KISS appearing to be solely a touring band by the early 21st century, Stanley (and Simmons) disclosed in 2003 that both were at work on their first solo releases since their 1978 releases. Stanley's arrived in 2006 when Live to Win appeared on the Universal imprint New Door. Additionally, Stanley has guested on other artists' recordings, including, among others, Anthrax, Wendy O. Williams, and New England (for the latter of which he produced a 1979 self-titled debut).