Six By 5: John 5 picks his 6 favorite Paul Stanley guitar solos

John 5 and his Kiss collection
John 5 and his Kiss collection (Image credit: Ken Sharp)

From his solo work to his stints with Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Mötley Crüe, John 5 has been hailed as a modern-day guitar hero. Through the years, he’s also had the opportunity to work with the original members of Kiss. 

John appears on Paul Stanley’s Live to Win album, performing on songs that include “Where Angels Dare,” which he co-wrote with Stanley and Desmond Child. He also shows up on Ace Frehley’s Origins Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 releases, and he enlisted Peter Criss to play drums on “Georgia on My Mind,” from John 5 and the Creatures’ 2021 album, Sinner. It all results from a fascination with the group that began in his youth. 

“It was spring of 1977 and I was walking through Sears when I saw the Love Gun display,” John recalls of an early encounter with the group’s music. “I loved monsters, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to have this record!’ I went home and I put it on, and it changed my life forever. It was such an epiphany. It’s the same thing that happened for people watching the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Kiss made millions of people want to pick up an instrument and play guitar, play drums, sing and write songs, and that’s why we have certain guitar players and musicians today. Kiss definitely did that for me.”

One of this generation’s most groundbreaking guitar players, we asked him to lend his expert opinion on six of his favorite Paul Stanley solos.

“Hold Me, Touch Me”

Paul Stanley — Paul Stanley (1978)

“The ‘Hold Me, Touch Me’ solo is one of my favorites because of the emotion and the slow hand vibrato, and that’s hard to do. Sometimes playing fast is easier to do than playing something with beautiful emotion and a slow hand vibrato that’ll just tear your heart out. It might be my favorite part of the song.” 

“Sure Know Something”

Kiss — Dynasty (1979)

“Listening to these solos, you can really tell when it’s Ace and when it’s Paul, and
I think that’s so cool. With ‘Sure Know Something,’ you can tell that this is planned out and this solo was written around these certain chord structures. It’s not just someone improvising, and that’s what I really like about it.” 

“Easy As It Seems”

Kiss — Unmasked (1980)

“This is one of my favorite songs from Unmasked. For this song, Paul took the approach of a rock and roll solo over this rock-pop disco beat, and I really think it’s an amazing juxtaposition.”

“You’re All That I Want”

Kiss — Unmasked (1980)

“We’re so used to hearing Ace that when these solos come in  you think, This must be a session player, because it sounds so different. This solo is mature and sounds like Steve Lukather or something from a Steely Dan record. We know Paul loves Zeppelin and bands with cool guitar players, but it doesn’t sound like that.”

“A World Without Heroes”

Kiss — Music From “The Elder” (1981)

“It’s a beautiful melodic solo, with the perfect choice of notes. It’s not like, ‘Let’s see what I can improvise over this.’ This solo is sophisticated, and the note choices couldn’t be more perfect.”

"Just a Boy”

Kiss — Music From "The Elder” (1981)

“Listening to these solos, we can start to see Paul’s formula. And it works perfectly, because he’s playing to the song. You can tell he’s a songwriter and a guitar player that knows what to do and what not to do for the song. I would have played something totally different that probably wouldn’t have fit as well. But Paul shows you don’t have to be a shredder to be an incredible guitar player. This is sophisticated songwriting and playing.”