You surely know Ace Frehley as a co-founder and original lead guitarist for KISS and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His song-within-the-song guitar solos are as much as part of KISS’s lore as the band’s seven-inch platform boots. He’s always been the epitome of cool, with his rock ‘n roll swagger and laid back air of mystery. He’s The Spaceman and he’s on a roll, releasing three solo albums in four years.
What you may know not is that Ace has not been a member of KISS since 2002. In his times away from the mother ship (1983-1996) and (2002-present), Ace Frehley has put together a highly successful solo career. His 1978 solo album, Ace Frehley was widely acclaimed, and his 2018 album, Spaceman is considered the closest in spirit to that 1978 album. Frehley played all of the guitar parts on Spaceman, as well as bass on all but two songs. Longtime drummer Anton Fig, whose friendship with Frehey began in that 1978 record, also appears on several tracks.
The album has an almost biographical thread running through it, taking it from Frehley’s childhood in the Bronx, running with an Irish street gang, the Ducky Boys in “Bronx Boy.” Many consider that song his grittiest, with an opening riff “that lashes out like a switchblade.” “Pursuit of Rock and Roll” pays homage to the rockers who influenced him, from Little Richard to the Rolling Stones. He covers Eddie Money’s “I Wanna Go Back,” and is on the road with “Rockin’ With the Boys,” a tale of life touring. On “Without You I’m Nothing,” you hear a growling bass tone that can only be Gene Simmons, who co-wrote the song as he and Ace relaxed, writing songs, hanging out and eating sandwiches. There may have been rough times between the two over the years, but it’s clear that there is mutual respect and, yes, love.
Frehley, who has been sober for more than a decade, released a best-selling autobiography, No Regrets, in 2011. His 2014 album, Space Invader, was the only post-KISS solo album to crack the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart. He has a new album, Origins II in the works and is more productive than ever. He’s busy writing and recording and touring, playing around the United States and abroad, including dates with Alice Cooper. He’s traveling, as he always had, at an altitude mere mortals will never understand, a life lived to the fullest and one that has defied, well, everything. If you ever see Space Ace in the cosmos, there’s only one reaction: “Hey look, it’s rock ‘n roll!”