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Paul Stanley Comes to O.C. with an Old-School R&B Tribute Band

The first time Paul Stanley saw the Temptations perform, he was awestruck. He said he hadn’t hit puberty when the iconic Motown vocal quintet took the stage during a performance not far from his home in Queens, N.Y., in the mid-’60s. The musicianship, the performance and the songs all drew him in as he stared wide-eyed and sang along to “Get Ready.”

Though he’s certainly best known as the Starchild, the eccentric, kabuki-makeup-wearing and high boots-clad frontman of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act KISS, the 64-year-old entertainer is toning down the theatrics to appear with an 11-piece ensemble dubbed Soul Station for a trio of shows in Southern California. During these intimate gigs, which kick off Friday at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, Stanley and company pay homage to some of their favorite classic R&B songs from the ’60s and ’70s.

“The whole reason I got this alliance together was to celebrate and really re-create these great Motown and Philly-soul songs that we just don’t hear enough of,” Stanley said. “I am one who believes that in the days of the Spinners, the Stylistics, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, they created some of the greatest music ever, and to be able to put a band together that can play that music the way it’s meant to be played was something I wanted to do, selfishly. The fact that other people get to hear it now, and it’s been going over amazingly, that’s really just icing on the cake.”

Soul Station, which began forming a few years ago, includes an impressive lineup of musicians who had toured with artists such as Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Robinson, Lionel Richie, John Legend and Christina Aguilera. Also in the band is drummer Eric Singer, who has anchored KISS’ beat since the early ’90s.

“Everyone that I called to see if they wanted to be a part of this, as soon as I told them what I was doing, everyone said ‘I‘m in,’” Stanley said. “We’re just having a ball, and you don’t hear these songs played the way we play them. We play them to sound just like the original recordings … the way we remember them.”

Soul Station, which performed at a few charity events, officially played its first show at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles in September. Fans who fit into the 500-capacity venue on the Sunset Strip were treated to a different side of Stanley, who belted out “Ooo Baby Baby” by the Miracles, “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green and opened with a slight nod to his past as he slipped right into “Get Ready.”

Stanley said he wasn’t at all nervous, but more excited about presenting all of this material live.

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