KISS Singer Paul Stanley Opens up About Rare Physical Deformity

For KISS singer Paul Stanley, long hair is more than just a cool look, but a way to hide a rare physical deformity he has had since birth, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer revealed earlier this week.

During an interview with Dan Rather for AXS TV, the 67-year-old guitarist said he has a congenital deformity called microtia. The condition means his ear was not formed properly and is underdeveloped.

"I pursued fame as a way to compensate for a lot of insecurities," Stanley told Rather, notes The Daily Mail. "I was born deaf on my right side and I had a birth defect. I had what's called a Microtia, which is basically not having an ear. Having a crumpled mass of cartilage."

Stanley also said the famous black star over his right eye, part of his flamboyant Starchild costume, was inspired by his status as a "social outcast" during childhood.

"I wasn't very socially adept and when you have something physical that sets you apart from people it makes you really a target of unrelenting scrutiny and sometimes ridicule," the New York native explained.

Despite his struggles with hearing, Stanley fell in love with music and attended the High School of Music & Art in New York City. He graduated in 1970, the same year he first performed with Gene Simmons in the group that would eventually become KISS in 1973.

"Quite honestly, the idea of becoming famous was a way to push it in people's faces and go, 'You see, you should have been nicer to me,'" Stanley told Rather.

Stanley said he was also "fortunate enough" that his brush with success "didn't change anything," adding,

"I was really blessed because, at that point in your life, it's either a disappointment because it's not a remedy and you either put a needle in your arm, a gun in your mouth or you live life as a victim, and I'm not cut out of that. So I decided that I would spend my life and my time on self-exploration and trying to make myself a better person and seeing where that was going to take me."

This was not the first time Stanley opened up about his condition. In 2011, he opened about his struggle with CNN, offering some words of advice to others with microtia.

"To young and old alike, take care of your hearing because once you lose it, you can't get it back. Use earplugs if you're exposed to loud noise for prolonged periods of time including concerts. Keep personal listening devices to safe, acceptable levels. There are better ways to listen without sacrificing your enjoyment or your hearing health," Stanley said at the time.

He continued, "To those of you that suffer from some form of hearing loss, take comfort in the fact that many, many great people have succeeded in monumental ways without what many would call "normal" hearing, or any hearing for that matter."

Stanley, Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are on a break from their End of the Road World Tour, which resumes on May 3 in Mexico City. The tour will return for another string of North American shows in August.


Photo credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images