It wasn't that he had to have hearing aids. But his ears did show some damage, and it was obvious it came from long exposure to loud music, he said. He was told he needed to start wearing what are called "musicians' earplugs," which he special ordered.
The earplugs don't muffle the music but they do stop some of the more damaging frequencies, he said. "I put them on every show. I can wear my headphones with them in. I can hear fine when I wear them. The funny thing is that just within a short amount of time, I can hear better."
He used to end his shows and his ears would ring for hours. With the earplugs, that no longer happens. The earplugs have not completely solved the loudness issue, and the damage already done cannot be undone. But he'd never go back on this new line of defense for his hearing.
"I'll tell you what -- boy, you can really tell the difference after you protect your ears for four to six hours," said France.
He has taken to advising his students to turn it down when they plug in their ear buds or to wear earplugs to concerts.
"I tell my kids every day in class -- they know I'm a DJ -- I say, 'Guys! You're damaging your hearing and you don't even know it.'"
France has taken up the banner that Stanley, one of his KISS icons, is now waving.
Stanley, who was born with a condition that left him mostly deaf in his right ear, has said this made him especially vigilant about preserving hearing in left ear and that he has always worn earplugs to concerts.
He is now on something of a crusade to warn teenagers, advising the use of earplugs at concerts and encouraging them to turn the volume down on their iPods and other music sources. Stanley has been taking part in events sponsored by http://SoundRules.org">SoundRules.org, in connection with the House Research Institute, an organization devoted to improving the quality of life for people with hearing loss.
"I think what young people don't realize is that when you lose your hearing you don't get it back, and there are easy ways of preventing that from happening," Stanley told a reporter last year.
In various interviews, he has pointed out that when your ears end up ringing after a show "that's their way of telling you that it's dangerous."
In a May 2011 ABC news interview, he described hearing loss as "insidious," as it usually happens over a period of time. The average rock concert -- KISS shows included -- can top out at 105 decibels, which is loud enough to damage hearing in less than five minutes, Stanley said.
DJ Bill France said that now that he has heard the word, so to speak, from the KISS guitarist, he is passing it on to the young people he encounters.
"If I can influence them," France said, "they just gotta turn it down."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.