Meeting My Musical Idol, Paul Stanley- 25th Anniversary

In order to properly convey this story, I need to give you a bit of a backstory. From a very early age, probably around 4, I became enamored with the “Friday Magazine” portion of the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper. In fact, I strongly preferred it over standard children’s reading material, and greatly looked forward to it every Friday. One weekly column in particular struck a chord with me, and that was “What’s Happening” written by Jane Scott, a locally famous critic/writer who covered every musician from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen, and just about everyone in between. Little did I know as a small child that I would have an encounter with her that would stick with me forever.

In 1989, Kiss was on a short break, and Paul Stanley took advantage of that by booking his first ever solo tour. I called up my friend Ray and asked if he thought his mom could take us to the show, reiterating to him that Paul was my lifelong musical idol, and that I needed him to beg if necessary. She agreed, and we got the tickets and made the plans. As I waited for them to pick me up, I paced back and forth in my living room, as the anticipation for this show had been eating me alive. Finally, I saw the headlights shine into my driveway, and I bolted out the door. As I made my way towards the car, I noticed a silhouette of another adult in the passenger seat, which I was not expecting. I climbed into the back seat with Ray, and wondered to myself who the gray-haired woman was. Ray’s mom said “Mike, I would like you to meet Jane Scott.” My heart almost stopped for a moment, as I knew Ray’s family was acquainted with her, but I never thought I would be riding in a car with her! We made our way towards Downtown Cleveland, as our adventure was about to begin.

We arrived at The Agora, and made our way towards the entrance. At that point, I saw a huge line of people waiting to get in, as it was a general admission show. Jane led the way, and we walked right past the entire line, right into the venue. Some people were greeting her in a very reverent way as we passed by, and that really impressed me. We walked right past the security into the theater, and at that point, it almost felt like I was in the company of royalty. We were basically the first people in there, so we had our pick of any spot in the venue. Ray and I made our way to the first row of seats right behind the soundboard, while Jane and Ray’s mom took a spot in the section to our left. The crowd started filing in a few minutes later, and before we knew it, it was show time.

Warrant opened the show, and put on an incredibly fun, energetic set. In fact, I was so impressed that I went to the record store within the next few days to get their first record, Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich, which had just been released. As Warrant wrapped up, my heart started to pound, as it wouldn’t be long before “The Starchild” would rule the stage. The lights went down, and Paul with his solo band took the stage and ripped through the Kiss classic “I Stole Your Love.” The setlist also included a handful of songs from his 1978 solo album, as well as a great cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown.” The whole show went by incredibly fast, and I remember my throat feeling raw from screaming every word to every song. We made our way over to the other section to meet back up with Ray’s mom and Jane, but my night was not over yet.

Jane pulled out two backstage pass stickers, put one on her coat, handed the other one to Ray and said “Are you ready to go backstage with me?” I was about to drop right there when I heard that. But in one of the most selfless things I have ever witnessed, Ray said “Is it alright if Mike goes back with you? He is a much bigger fan than I am.” Without hesitation, she took the pass back, handed it to me, and said “OK, let’s go!” I seriously blacked out for a second and had to steady myself. With absolutely no warning or preparation, I was about to come face to face with the person whose posters had covered my walls since I was three years old.

We were led to the backstage area by a security guard, where we went into a small room where a few of Paul’s band members were hanging around. One of them was the drummer, Eric Singer, who would join Kiss a few years later. We introduced ourselves to him, and spoke for a few minutes. I looked over at a couch and saw someone I immediately recognized. I just could not place exactly where I knew her from. As we made our way closer to her, she introduced herself by saying “Hi, I’m Samantha Fox, nice to meet you! Paul is in the shower, but he will be right out.” In case you do not recall who Samantha Fox is, she brought us some fun 80’s fare such as “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)” and “I Wanna Have Some Fun.” They were rumored to be dating during that time, and that was quite an interesting way for me to find out! I then looked across the room, and Paul was walking right towards us, having just gotten out of the shower, with a towel around his shoulders. I am convinced I had a mild stroke as he approached us, and gave Jane a big hug, like they were friends for years. Jane introduced me to Paul, and told him how big of a fan I was. He was incredibly nice, and asked how I liked the show. Jane asked him what Kiss record a certain song came from, in order to complete her review. He actually forgot and deferred the question to me, which I immediately answered. We said our goodbyes, made our way out of the backstage area, and met back up with Ray and his mom. I thanked Ray profusely, and we made our way home. I thanked everyone again as I got out of the car when we arrived at my house, and I maybe slept an hour that night because I was all hyped up.

Sadly, Jane passed away on July 4, 2011. She was so well respected not only in Cleveland, but by people all over the world. She is partly responsible for one of the greatest nights of my life, but she is also partly responsible for inspiring me to write stories like this one. While I only got to spend a few short hours with her, she had such a positive effect on me, and I am forever grateful for that. Rest in peace, Jane.

Advertisements