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Ace Frehley’s role as the guitarist of Kiss has been an ostensible characteristic of his career. His persona “Spaceman” is recognized as a near interchangeable description of this idiosyncratic guitarist; however, outside the megalomania surrounding Kiss he forged a solo career quite worthy of attention.
Paul Daniel Frehley was born on 27 April 1951 in New York City, New York, United States. He was raised in the Bronx amongst two older siblings and was immersed in a musical background. Both his parents played the piano (his father even acted as the church organist) and his brother and sister likewise played the piano and guitar. Though Frehley did not receive any technical training he was an avid learner of the guitar. He acquired his 1st guitar when he was 13 years old and taught himself how to play, guided by the influences of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, the Who etc...
As a teenager Frehley was wild and prone to commotion. He was involved in several street gangs, got kicked out of two high schools and dropped out of a 3rd. However with the insistence of his parents he got his diploma and landed several part time jobs. Despite the chaos Frehley was wrapped up in his youth, he always reserved a dedication to music and he credits his drive as an artist as the source of his “salvation” from delinquency.
Before joining Kiss Frehley played guitar in the groups Cathedral and Molimo. He was eventually directed by an ad in the Village Voice to audition for the band Wicked Lester, which at that time consisted of Gene Simons, Paul Stanley, and Pete Criss. The members were not too thrilled with Frehley’s apparently dis-shelved appearance, but were impressed by his musical technique. A couple weeks after the audition Frehley was given the position and by the start of 1973 the group changed their name to Kiss. During the beginning stages of the group Frehley could not sustain himself solely as a musician so he picked up an extra job, working as a cab driver.
This would all change after the release of Kiss’ smash self-titled debut. Frehley was responsible for penning the classic track “Cold Gin” and also co-wrote the “Love Theme from KISS”. He continued to contribute compositions to Kiss’ discography and made his singing debut on the track “Shock Me”.
Though Frehley’s departure from Kiss did not take place until 1982 he released his first self-titled debut album in 1978. The other members of Kiss also released solo albums that year; however, Frehley’s work outsold everyone else’s. His debut also received high critical praise and is still regarded as an influential record, generating positive feedback from modern publications like Allmusic and Pitchfork.
Frehley pursued his solo career full force in 1984, recruiting the help of Anton Fig (drums), John Regan (bass), Richie Scarlet (vocals/guitars), and Arthur Stead (keyboardist). His solo project alternated between the names Ace Frehley and Frehley’s Comet. The band recorded multiple demos and played several live shows from 1984 to1985, but did not release their first album “Frehley’s Comet” until 1987. The album was a success, entering the Billboard 200 at No. 43. It’s single “Into the Night” peaked at No. 27 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and “Rock Soldiers” also received heavy airplay. Frehley put out two more albums under the moniker Frehley’s Comet: “EP Live+1” and “Second Sighting”. During this time he supported these releases by touring with Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden.
His 3rd full length album “Trouble Walkin’” was released under Ace Frehley and hit the shelves on 13 October 1989. Drummer Pete Kriss and Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach both made appearances on the album. Frehley and Kriss rejoined Kiss in 1996 for a reunion tour and also contributed to the album “Psycho Circus”.
Frehley did not release his follow up to “Trouble Walkin’” until 20 years later. His 5th studio album was titled “Anomaly” and peaked at No. 27 on the US Billboard. In 2011 he put out the autobiography “No Regrets - A Rock ‘N’ Roll Memoir” and three years later issued his 6th studio album “Space Invader”, which climbed all the way to No. 9 on the US Billboard charts.