Real Name: Paul Frehley
Birthday: April 27, 1951
Married: Jeanette (1 child, Monique)
Ace auditioned for the band after answering an ad reading something to the effect of "Wanted: guitarist with flash and balls." Ace plugged in and jammed with Gene, Paul and Peter on such early KISS songs like "Deuce." They agreed he was "the one" and, with that, he was in the band.
Ace wrote many of the band's classic songs, including "Cold Gin," "Parasite" and the classical-styled intro to "Rock Bottom." Ace never sang any of his songs until 1977, when he finally took over the microphone for "Shock Me." Ace continued to sing on subsequent albums on songs such as "2000 Man" (a Rolling Stones cover), "Save Your Love," "Talk to Me," "Two Sides of the Coin," "Torpedo Girl," and "Dark Light."
When the band recorded and released solo albums in 1978, Ace's was the most successful and was the only one to spawn a hit single ("New York Groove" - which was a Top 20 hit). This led to the first stirrings of unhappiness within the band. Feeling that he deserved more attention than he was getting in KISS, he longed to leave the band for what he felt would be greener pastures.
Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley both kept Ace in the band for as long as they could, but when Peter Criss left the band in 1980, under similar circumstances (Criss had written the band's biggest hit, "Beth"), Ace found it hard to stay motivated. Frequently out-voted in band decisions, he felt his role within the band was diminished further.
Increasingly, Ace turned his attention away from the band's interests to pursue his own (which, unfortunately, led to some self-destructive behavior.) The last nail in the coffin was a series of disagreements with producer Bob Ezrin, during the recording of Music from 'The Elder,' when many of what Ace felt were his best solos in years were removed from the album. Ace had wanted to take the band back to their rock 'n' roll roots, but they'd opted to make a concept album. Ace couldn't be unhappier.
Ace left the band in 1982 right after a promotional tour for Creatures of the Night, an album on which he does not play. (He was featured on the album's original cover, but nowhere on the album will you hear him.) The official reason for departure was an auto-accident. The accident probably prevented him from recording, but not from staying with the band. The real reason probably had to more to do with what caused the accident: alcohol and unhappiness.
Because half of Ace's income from songwriting would go to KISS until 1984, Ace kept a low-profile until 1985 when he began a club tour of the East Coast. Performing a mix of new tunes and KISS classics, Frehley seemed to be re-energized and ready to rock and roll again.
Ace signed a record deal with Bronze Records, but the label folded before any album could be released. In 1987, Ace signed with Jon Zazula's Megaforce Records, who had a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. Frehley's Comet, the first album released under this deal went gold fairly easily. Sales, however, tapered off with each subsequent release. Ace lost his recording contract with Megaforce following 1989's Trouble Walkin', which many fans consider to be the most confident of his post-KISS releases.
Before the KISS reunion, Ace had continued to tour the Atlantic coast and Mid-West regions" just for fun." He toured with Peter Criss in late '94 and early '95 on the "Bad Boys of KISS" tour. During this tour, Ace performed a song called "Sisters," which he said was to be included on a new, forthcoming album. No record deal was officially announced, but it was rumored that Ace had received a deal with the same record company that had released Peter Criss' 1994 album, Cat #1, Tony Nicole Tony (TNT) Records.
Although his past with KISS was fairly rocky, most fans, and, probably, Paul and Gene, will tell you that Ace's guitar playing was what gave KISS their signature sound and edge. Ace's many replacements may have attempted to play his solos note-for-note, but it was never quite the same as having Ace play them.
Now, with a clean and sober Ace playing his solos better than ever, KISS has its muscular, classic sound back where it belongs. The band returned to the studio in January, 1998 to record the first new album with the original line-up since 1979. Psycho Circus was produced by Bruce Fairbairn and released on September 22, 1998. It entered the Billboard charts at #3 with a bullet.
In 1997, Ace's old record label, Megaforce Records, released a compliation of some of Ace's best material from his solo career. The disc, entitled 12 Picks, included a free promotional guitar pick with the first 30,000 copies. Its success spawned a follow-up release, Loaded Deck, which was released in January, 1998. Several tribute albums were also released to varying degrees of success.