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Ace Frehley - What Keeps Him Passionate About Guitar, and More

How about a little KISS!


by Anne Erickson




Les Paul-toting, hard-rocking Ace Frehley is one of rock’s most longstanding guitar sensations. From his time in KISS to a fruitful solo career, Frehley’s guitar life has been anything but static. If you haven’t checked out the Ace Frehley “Budokan” Les Paul Custom yet, it’s a beauty of a model. The guitar, created by Frehley and Gibson Custom, captures every small feature of his actual guitar.

Let’s dig inside Frehley’s head a bit and get to know him better with some fun facts and anecdotes.

What’s his favorite song he’s either written or played over the years? “I don’t know. My favorite KISS song is definitely ‘Deuce,’” he told The Aquarian. “It was the first KISS song I ever heard. It was before KISS was even KISS. When I went in to audition for the band they played “Deuce” for me and then I ended up playing a solo to it off the top of my head. Pretty much, I think those guys after that one song thought I was the guy. At least that’s what I’ve read in retrospect.”

What’s the first album he ever purchased with his own money? “Wow, that’s a tough one,” he said to Rock Cellar Magazine. “That was a long, long time ago. (laughs) The big key albums for me growing up were The Who’s My Generation, Fresh Cream, Led Zeppelin I and Hendrix’s first album was big for me. I used to walk around high school with Are You Experienced? under my arm. (laughs)”


His writing style has changed since his early days with KISS. “I wasn’t as structured as I am now,” he told Guitar World. “Even though I’m not really structured—I’m at least cognizant of what’s going on. [laughs] Back then it was more hit or miss—and when I hit, I hit big. You know, I go back and listen to my 1978 solo record, and it still holds up. My whole body of work that I’ve created over the years has withstood the test of time. I know that I still have the goods. And when this record gets released, everybody’s gonna say, “Well, Ace did it again.”

Frehley has also found the secret for staying young. “I think the fact I don’t drink any more helps a lot,” he told TeamRock.com . “After a while, in your 50s and 60s, drinking really ages you. I miss the insanity of it, and some of the crazy situations, but I still have fun today, it’s just controlled mayhem. The more I abused alcohol and drugs, the more blackouts I had. So those areas of my book were hardest to write. Probably the biggest black spot was after I left Kiss, so my friends, family and the people who were around at the time had to jog my memory.”

What keeps him passionate about guitar? “Well, for me it’s playing these new songs that I wrote (for the album Space Invador),” he told iHeartGuitarblog.com. “I didn’t realize I could still write the way I write. At this point in my life I thought I’d lost it, and y’know, the fact that I threw this album together in ten months and during that time wrote 11 songs made me realize that I still have it, and it was mainly effortless for the most part. And I record today the same way I recorded in 1978, just me and a drummer. We’ll cut the basic tracks, I’ll throw on a scratch bass line and we’ll build it from there.”  -HC-



All photos by Dave Shore



Anne Erickson holds years of bylines in Gannett Media publications, as well as music magazines Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge and more. She also hosts radio shows with iHeartRadio and has been syndicated in Seattle, Dayton, Central Coast California and beyond. Anne is a loyal Spartan and holds a Master’s degree from MSU. She resides in Lansing, Michigan.


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