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Happy Birthday, Ace Frehley!
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Ace Frehley live in concert

Happy Birthday today to the “Spaceman” – one Ace Frehley, the original lead guitarist for the rock and roll all night group KISS, whose frantic, spacial guitar work made him one of the most influential guitar players of the 1970s, when KISS was at its highest powers as a powerhouse, superstar hard rock and roll quartet.

Frehley, who was with KISS from 1973 until he left in 1982 and then from 1996 to 2002 when they embarked on their successful “reunion” and “farewell” tours, humbly downplayed his success, even telling Rock and Roll Experience Magazine in 2009 that “I’m an Anomaly, I’m an unschooled musician, I don’t know how to read music, but I’m one of the most famous guitar players in the world, so go figure.” Everything he said in that one statement pretty much encapsulates the career of Ace Frehley.

Born Paul Frehley on April 27th, 1951, and raised in the Bronx, New York, he was the son of Dutch immigrants. In his youth, he was in a street gang called The Duckies with future W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless. After receiving a guitar as a Christmas present in 1964, Frehley had found his calling. After odd jobs and pretty much being the resident juvenile delinquent in high schools, (where his ability to get his friends dates in school earned him the famous moniker “Ace”) his guitar playing got him through those rough patches of life. Answering an ad in the local New York City paper The Village Voice for a lead guitarist, he met the band — rhythm guitarist and lead singer Paul Stanley, bassist Gene Simmons, and drummer Peter Criss — who at that time were calling themselves Wicked Lester. After three weeks of auditions, Frehley got the gig, the band changed their name to KISS and as the cliché goes, “the rest is history.”

The group steadily rose in popularity following their self-titled debut release in 1974 to become one of the biggest bands in America. They took the hard rock sounds of the time and mixed it with the glam movement that was also happening at that time, (especially with bands like The New York Dolls and T-Rex) and they created their distinctive look, which was wearing heavy makeup which completely disguised the members’ identity and sporting outfits on stage that made Alice Coopers garb look positively pedestrian. This style became a main catalyst for their success. By the mid 1970s, the members of KISS were musical superstars. Frehley even sang the popular “Shock Me,” released on their 1976 smash Love Gun.

Frehley became unhappy with the band’s direction and left a few years later. He then embarked on a solo career and released a few albums with his band Frehley’s Comet, then albums on his own. He continues to make appearances in the music world, but he will always be remembered first and foremost as “Spaceman” and for the incredible sounds and style he added to KISS.

So get out your old KISS vinyl today, and let it rip on the turntables as we celebrate the birthday of the incomparable Ace Frehley!

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