KISS guitarist Paul Stanley explains how a childhood deformity led him to become a rock legend

KISS guitarist Paul Stanley revealed a physical deformity is responsible for pushing him to become one of the most flamboyant and stylized rockers in history.

The 67-year-old may be better known to fans for the “Starchild” persona he’s used since he started with the iconic band in the late 1970s — he would always paint one black star over his right eye, which he recently shared was part of the rock 'n' roll glamour he turned to after being a social outcast in his youth.

Stanley sat down for an interview with Dan Rather on AXS TV, in which he got candid about living with a deformity called microtia and how it pushed him into the spotlight.

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“I pursued fame as a way to compensate for a lot of insecurities," he said. "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,” he shared.

“And, 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. And, 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.’”

While he’s grateful for the many years he spent with KISS and for the life it’s given him, he says that he learned quickly that fame wouldn’t solve his problems. However, he thanks the rocket-ride for teaching him that lesson early, when there was still time to do something about it.

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“I was fortunate enough to have success come to me and realize that didn’t change anything. So 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,” he said. “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.”

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Now, Stanley and the rest of the band are preparing to leave their makeup and armored outfits behind at the conclusion of their “KISS End of the Road World Tour,” which kicked off earlier this year.