What You Didn't Know About Paul Stanley's Ear

In one of KISS's signature songs, "Rock and Roll All Nite," they sing, "You keep on shoutin' / you keep on shoutin'!" It's just one of many party-hearty KISS lyrics that have probably hurt many an eardrum over the years when played at top volume, but it turns out that co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley is actually well acquainted with hearing loss. The rock star was born deaf in one ear due to a rare congenital deformity of the outer ear's cartilage. In a 2013 article for CNN, Stanley explained that his disability stems from a Level 3 Microtia, which occurs in about 1 out of every 8,000 – 10,000 births and causes deafness due to the lack of ear canal and path to the inner workings of his right ear. 

Stanley received an implanted hearing aid as an adult, which he found "extremely taxing and confusing" at first. He eventually got used to it and noted it had "enhanced [his] day-to-day activities." Stanley observed that his hearing loss hadn't impacted his professional life as a musician because "I may not hear music the way other people hear it, but I have nothing else to compare it to, or didn't for most of my life." However, per Variety quoting a passage from Stanley's 2014 memoir Face the Music: A Life Exposed, his partial deafness made it hard for him to understand people when there was any background noise present, which caused him "to instinctively avoid social situations."

Paul Stanley has new lease on life

In 2017, Stanley paid tribute via Twitter to Dr. Frederic Rueckert, the man who had reconstructed his ear and implanted the hearing aid in 1982. Per Varietynot only did Stanley's Level 3 Microtia leave him deaf in his right ear, it meant he "had nothing more than a stump on the right side of my head." Insecure about his appearance, he grew his hair long, (often wore makeup), and started working with a therapist, Dr. Jesse Hilsen, to conquer his insecurities as his band got more and more famous. Hilsen recommended that Stanley seek out Rueckert after reading about Rueckert's ear surgeries, which at that point he'd primarily performed on children with Stanley's disability. 

In his memoir, Stanley gushed about Rueckert, calling him "a humble man who helped countless children avoid the experience and turmoil and endlessly compounded problems I faced as a kid." In addition to installing an internal hearing aid, Rueckert reconstructed Stanley's right ear using cartilage extracted from Stanley's rib and attached it via a series of skin grafts. Stanley credited his doctor with giving him a "new lease on life" and, despite giving Rueckert a Rolex upon his retirement, lamented that he "could never figure out a way to truly show him how much he meant to me." Rueckert died in 2017 at the age of 95. Paul Stanley, 68, continues touring with KISS