Happy Birthday today to The Spaceman, the irrepressible Ace Frehley, whose lead guitar work in the original version of the rock and roll quartet KISS elevated that band to one of the all-time great groups of that genre.
While the co-frontmen — Gene Simmons, with his blood-spurting, bass-playing rock shock antics, and Paul Stanley, all-around good guy with the sly wink — were pretty much always (and continuing to this day) at the forefront, it was the guitar sounds of the Space Ace and his attitude as well, which seemed to come from the Johnny Thunders/Ron Asheton/Wayne Kramer down and dirty rock variety that gave KISS arguably its musical cock walk strut on record, on stage, and in print. Frehley was the dark horse of the group who usually had musical photo finishes; he was the iron glue and in a lot of ways the one who experienced the most identity crisis, almost like the George Harrison in the theatrical greasepaint, the makeup which concealed the band’s identity during their heyday in the 1970s, but never concealed the band’s workman-like musical ethic.
Space Ace Frehley – legendary guitarist and alien spaceman from deep space, specifically the planet Jendell… or the Bronx, depending upon which legend you choose to believe. For his No Regrets autobiography, written with assistance from Joe Layden and John Ostrosky, Ace determines to focus on the Earthbound tales of his back history, examining his memories from childhood, to wild teenage years, to his days with KISS, and his time as a solo artist.
I read No Regrets with immense anticipation. Being a KISS fan is not just about enjoying their music, it is quite literally an obsession that becomes a lifestyle. [Geeks of Doom editors Eve and Dave will back me up here – go on, Eve, tell ’em about it right here: There is a shrine to Ace at the Geeks of Doom Headquarters, and in lieu of a framed wedding photo above the bed is a framed print of the cover of Ace’s 1976 KISS solo album, undisputedly the best by far of the four KISS sole albums.] And a chunk of that lifestyle is discovering more about the history of the band members (original and otherwise), as it makes up a much larger picture of the KISS family.