KISS frontman Paul Stanley does not mince his words when talking about his band’s induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.
“It’s a farce.”
KISS has endured for four decades and sold 100 million albums as rock and roll legends, yet Stanley says the hall of fame induction is a grudgingly given honor.
“These guys, these people behind the scenes, decide who they want in their club,” he said. “Because they don’t think that we meet their criteria for rock and roll. I guess I’m too smart, too healthy, and I have somewhat of a business head on my shoulders. It would be much more to their liking if I was washing cars at this point. These people find credibility in you doing drugs, or having a hard life, or tattooing yourself from head to foot or putting pins in your eyes, those people don’t do it, but that’s what they deem to be credible. They don’t have the guts or stupidity to live like that but they champion the people who do.”
Though Stanley will attend the induction ceremony Thursday night in New York City, KISS will not be playing. Stanley said he refused to perform with drummer Peter Criss and guitarist Ace Frehley, two of the original members who are no longer part of the band but who are honorees that evening.
Separately, Stanley talked to Yahoo Music and went into more detail about his frustration: "The reason we're not playing [at all] is because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is [co-founders] Jann Wenner, Dave Marsh, and Jon Landau's private boys' club. Why don't they just call it 'Jann's Rock Club'? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is supposed to reflect the people, and the people clearly don't even know half the people who have been inducted into this organization."
"I'm not in a position where I have to bend to anybody at this point," he went on to tell Yahoo Music. "I've never quit the band once, let alone twice. I've been here 40 years. The rules get made here. I've survived this long, with or without Jann's club, and will continue. So we go onward, and I will celebrate this induction with Ace and Peter for the fans, and I see it as a celebration of 40 years of the band. Everyone else can see it however they want to."
After 40 years in rock and roll, Stanley just released “Face the Music: A Life Exposed,” an autobiography that begins with his childhood in a “dysfunctional” family and a disability – he was born without a right ear and deaf on that side – for which he was taunted and teased as “Stanley, the one-eared monster.”
But ever since the success of KISS, he has been known as “Starchild,” a nod to the single large star around his eye. Stanley explained that after carefully painting over one eye, he was tired and didn’t want to struggle over painting the other one. But he also noted that he was the only band member with asymmetrical makeup, perhaps a subtle mirror to his physical asymmetry.
The star, the lipstick, the heels – they all cemented KISS as showmen as much as musicians.
“The persona that I created fortified, made me bigger than life,” he said. “In some ways, it was ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ Very much somebody behind the curtain. I created Superman. It wasn’t something devious. It wasn’t something that was dishonest but it was the super version of me. It was taller, better looking, more magnetic.”
Yet even with that larger-than-life persona, the insecurities of childhood remained.
“I originally grew long hair not necessarily or solely to emulate The Beatles and all these bands, but because it got to cover my ear. Whether it was with the makeup or the persona or growing the hair, you can cover something but you don’t hide it from yourself. You have to deal with what’s going on inside you, your inner demons, your insecurities. Whatever you hide from the public, you don’t hide from yourself. You go home every night and you’re aware of who you are.”
ABC News' Bryan Hacken and Maurice Abbate contributed to this episode.