It’s quite a surprise, seeing these faces on the WQXR website, isn’t it? But it’s no accident, although our connection is to only one of the members of the rock band KISS, which is among the 2014 inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the original members, anyhow). The induction ceremony takes place Thursday evening at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
KISS rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley – the guy with the star across his eye – reveals in his just-published autobiography that he grew up in a home filled with classical music, some of which came from his parents’ radio tuned to WQXR.
In Face the Music: A Life Exposed, Stanley, born Stanley Bert Eisen in 1952 in Manhattan, discusses how music was a refuge in his early years from difficulties within his family and without. He writes that his connection with classical music occurred very early. "I'll never forget hearing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major – the "Emperor" Concerto – for the first time," he writes. "I was five, and I was completely blown away."
He also recalls listening to the Saturday afternoon broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera with his mom, "a tradition that continued even as I got older."
Stanley mentions two radio stations in his book: WNEW-FM, the iconic music station that was one of the first in the country to play rock and roll on the FM dial; and WQXR, where he heard classical music.*
Stanley, a 1970 graduate of New York’s High School of Music and Art, also reveals his struggle as a victim of bullying. He was a victim of taunts and abuse in part because of his microtia – a malformation of the outer ear, which in his case, also rendered him deaf in his right ear. In recent years, Stanley has been an ambassador for the Canadian organization AboutFace, which supports individuals with facial disfigurement.
*Disclaimer: I actually haven’t read Paul Stanley’s book, but my friend Jim Kerr has, and he let me know about the KISS-‘QXR connection. Kerr is the morning host on WAXQ, better known as Q104.3, New York’s Classic Rock. If you’d like to learn more about Paul Stanley, here’s an interview he did on Jim’s program earlier this week.