“I pursued fame as a way to compensate for a lot of insecurities,” the KISS frontman admitted. He explained that he had a birth defect called microtia that basically left his right ear as “a crumpled mass of cartilage,” and that he couldn’t hear out of it.
And because of this difference, he was bullied. “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 67-year-old rockstar, known as Starchild in KISS, explained. “And quite honestly, for me, the idea of becoming famous was a way to push it in people’s faces and go, ‘You see! You should’ve been nicer to me!’”
Stanley had previously shared that the deformity had been long corrected. He mourned the passing of his surgeon in May 2017 with a tribute on Twitter: “My dear friend Dr. Frederic Rueckert has died at 95,” he captioned a photo of the physician. “He truly changed my life when he constructed my right ear from my rib. God Bless You.”
While the rocker may have found success beyond his wildest dreams — KISS, formed in 1973, is one of the best-selling bands of all time — he realized all the fame and fortune “didn’t change anything.”
“I was really blessed because at that point in your life, when you become famous, it’s either a disappointment because it’s not a remedy, and you either put a needle in your arm or a gun in your mouth, or you live life as a victim,” the musician told the 87-year-old journalist about the dark side of massive success. “I’m not cut out for that. So I decided I would spend my life or my time on self-exploration and trying to make myself a better person.”
The Big Interview airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on AXS.