In a recent interview with Classic Rock, former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley has pulled no punches when it comes dissing the dirt on his former bandmates, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
The Space Ace responsible for Kiss’s signature guitar sound also had a thing or two to say about his replacement Tommy Thayer. Calling the young upstart a copycat guitar player who should know his place.
In response to Thayer’s recent announcement that he intends to launch a new custom Les Paul guitar named ‘Spaceman,’ the original space ace sent a few verbal rockets and wordy warheads in the direction of his brash imitator.
“Tommy’s not so bad. He’s a hired gun just trying to make a living. I just think Tommy overstepped the bounds with that guitar. I’m the original Spaceman. I created that character, and he’s trying to capitalise in it. Tommy Thayer is just a copycat guitar player who should know his place.”
Frehley also admits in the interview that he is still licensing his Spaceman image to Kiss, entailing that every time Tommy Thayer preforms, wearing the make-up that Frehley made famous, the one and only bona fide space ace receives royalties for the privilege.
“I’m not really complaining about it. I’ve moved on with my life. I think the fans are more upset about it than me. I’m constantly bombarded by fans saying, ‘Ace, you should be back in the band. We’re not happy with the line-up, it’s half of a Kiss cover band.’
“I could easily step back and put on the make-up and do the job, but I don’t think Paul and Gene want to share the money. They’re all about the money. The don’t want to give me 20 percent when they can pay a salaried employee.
“It’s a shame that Kiss is doing a fortieth anniversary tour and me and Peter (Criss) have absolutely nothing to do with it. How can you celebrate a group like Kiss and not pay homage to two of the founding members?”
Reflecting on the fiasco that was Kiss’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frehley is still angry that the organisers wanted the four original members of Kiss to play at the ceremony but Stanley and Simmons refused.
“They wanted to play with Tommy and (current Kiss drummer) Eric Singer, and possibly include me and Peter. I thought that was a slap in the face. Tommy and Eric were not being inducted, you know? The ceremony was supposed to be about the four original members. Me and Peter threatened to boycott the ceremony if they preformed with Tommy and Eric, so Paul and Gene said, ‘Well we’re not gonna preform all.'”
Keen to put to bed allegations from Simmons that Frehley has a bitter bee in his bonnet because he was booted out of Kiss on two separate occasions due to alcohol and drug problems, the Spaceman comes out of his corner fighting fit and roaring for a rumble.
“I’ve never been fired from Kiss. I quit in 1982 and I quit in 2002. Paul and Gene may try to rewrite history and say I was let go because I had a drug or alcohol problem, but the reality is I always delivered in concert and in the studio.”
Reflecting on the ‘kisstory’ of Kiss and the band’s legacy, Frehley is adamant that the trick is to never take it too seriously.
“I’ve always tried to take everything with a grain of salt. I remember so many times during the seventies when I was in Kiss, I’d tell Paul and Gene, ‘Will you guys lighten up? We’re just dressing up like f**king rock ‘n’ roll clowns and having fun.'”