July 2, 2019
Ace Frehley’s given name is Paul Daniel Frehley. He is best known as the original lead guitarist and co-founding member of the classic rock band, KISS. He created the persona of The Spaceman (aka Space Ace) and played with the group from its inception in 1973 until his first departure in 1982. After leaving KISS, Frehley embarked on a successful solo career. In 1996, Frehley rejoined his KISS bandmates (bassist Gene Simmons, guitarist Paul Stanley and drummer Peter Criss) for the highly successful reunion tour. Frehley remained with KISS for six years—until 2002. At that time, he left at the conclusion of what was the first of many of the band’s farewell tours. Recently, in October 2018, Frehley performed with KISS on the KISS Kruise. Frehley and the band had not performed together since 2002.
Outside of KISS, Frehley has continued to have a successful music career. His first solo album, Ace Frehley (Casablanca Records, 1978) went platinum buoyed by the hit single “New York Groove.” In 1987, his Megaforce/Atlantic Records album, his first after leaving KISS, was released with his solo band, Frehley's Comet. The eponymously named record featured the singles “Rock Soldiers” and “Into The Night.” As a solo artist, Frehley has released eight studio albums, two “best of” compilations and two live albums. His latest release is Spaceman (Entertainment One Music, 2018). A covers album, titled Origins, Vol. 2 (featuring guest appearances by Robin Zander of Cheap Trick and Lita Ford), is currently slated for release on Entertainment One Music in October 2019.
Frehley is known to incorporate “special effects” guitars into his live performances. These instruments include a Gibson Les Paul guitar that discharges smoke from the neck and another custom Les Paul that emits light based on song tempo. Frehley released his autobiography, No Regrets--A Rock 'N' Roll Memoir (Gallery Books) in 2011. The best-selling book, co-authored by Joe Layden and John Ostrosky, entered The New York Times Best Seller list, in the hardcover non-fiction category, at #10. In 2014, The Spaceman was inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Hall Of Fame along with the other founding members of KISS.
On a pleasant Tuesday evening in Huntington, NY, the mid-sized Paramount venue was invaded by members of the KISS Army. The army members, though a bit older than back when KISS first made the scene, were no less vocal and fanatical as they waited for Frehley to take the stage. The evening began with workman-like opening sets by New York City band Like It and by the Long Island band, Ryder. As these bands played, the KISS Army battalion began its maneuvers with trips to the merchandise stands and then advancement into the main area of the auditorium. During the break, after the second opener, the “real” jockeying for position started. Many members of the audience moved as close to the stage as possible. The excitement was felt throughout the building as the anticipation grew.
When Frehley and his band took the stage, the audience members filled the venue with the loudest of cheers. The performance began when the loudspeakers erupted with a pre-recorded version of “Fractured Mirror.” Frehley then stepped forward wave to the audience and thrilled the faithful with a great and energized opening tune, the anthemic, “Rip It Out.” After that the set ventured into a very comfortable area (both for the guitarist and for the crowd members) as the KISS favorites “Parasite,” “Hard Times” and “Watchin’ You” made their appearances.
The set featured the additional solo tunes: “Rockin’ With the Boys,” “Mission To Mars,” “Snowblind (featuring Dave “The Snake” Sabo) and, of course, “New York Groove.” But it was the choice KISS songs and epic guitar solo (featuring the smoking guitar following which Frehley commented, “Jesus all that fucking smoke, and I don’t even smoke cigarettes...”) populating the rest of his set that were the true highlights of the evening. The classic KISS favorites included: “Rocket Ride,” “Strange Ways,” “Shock Me”…and, the audience loved it. The main set ended with a fantastic version of the KISS favorite “Cold Gin” that had the audience members thrilled beyond their wildest dreams.
If the main set-ender had the crowd worked-up into a shouting, shrieking and whistling frenzy, the encores of “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce” clearly sent them over the edge. They continued to whistle and shout while fist pumping and singing-a-long as though their lives depended upon it.
The venue shook throughout the night as Frehley delivered a powerful and masterful performance. The evening was an epic, multi-generational party, with Frehley as its host/master of ceremonies. Many of the fans in attendance were middle-aged and were wearing KISS t-shirts and/or Spaceman makeup. Quite a few brought their children and some even brought their grandchildren. For many members of the audience, who were unable to attend the recent KISS Farewell Tour performances, this was as close to KISS as they will get. They knew it, and loved it with all of their hearts.
Photo Credit: Christine Connallon