ACE FREHLEY: 'When PETER CRISS Left KISS, I Realized I Had Lost All My Power In The Band'

February 23, 2024

In a new interview with The Rock Experience With Mike Brunn, original KISS guitarist Ace Frehley was asked if he thinks it was necessary for him to leave the band in order to achieve the sobriety that he has now maintained for over 17 years. Ace responded: "It's a lot easier being sober away from those guys. They know how to push my buttons, and we don't always see eye to eye on everything. But once Peter [Criss, original KISS drummer] left the band, Paul [Stanley, KISS frontman] and Gene [Simmons, KISS bassist/vocalist] always overrode my point of view."

He continued: "When Peter was in the band, it was a democratic group. And I didn't even realize it, but when Peter left, I realized I had lost all my power in the band because pretty much Paul and Gene are workaholics and like to do things their way. So, if I don't like the way something is happening, I get outvoted. I was dead set against 'The Elder' [KISS's controversial 1981 LP 'Music From 'The Elder']; I didn't think it was the right album for the right time. It's not a bad record; I don't think our fans were expecting a record like that. And I kept telling him during the recording process, I said, 'I think it's a big mistake.' And, of course, it bombed. Because I'm the kind of guy that has this feeling of — I'm a street kid, and I have a sense of what kids wanna hear. And that's why I think this new album is gonna be successful."

Last month, Ace spoke to Rock Candy magazine about why he never made it on stage one last time with KISS for their final show at Madison Square Garden last December after last leaving the band back in 2002.

"Fans would constantly reach out to me and say, 'Ace, please come back to the band,'" Frehley explained. "So the fans were and are my primary motivators, and I want them to know that I did try, but I couldn't make it happen. They never asked me."

Frehley dismissed the idea that his well-documented troubles with drugs and alcohol could ever have been a reason for Simmons and Stanley not reaching out to him.

"I'm sober, and all my friends and associates will tell you as much," he stated categorically. "I got to the point in life where drugs and alcohol had taken me over, and I'm just so happy to be away from all that."

Despite the much-reported rifts with Simmons and Stanley over many years, nevertheless Frehley insisted that he still had affection for both of them.

"I want people to know that I do love Paul and Gene," he said. "I wish things would have been different, but it wasn't to be…" Nor does Frehley hold any animosity towards his replacement Tommy Thayer.

"He's a good guy and deserves a break," Ace said. "He's not me, but he was never going to be me. In a lot of ways, his task was impossible."

Last November, prior to KISS's final concert, Frehley told Mark Strigl of SiriusXM's Ozzy's Boneyard that he didn't hold a grudge against KISS, despite all the badmouthing that had gone on between him and some of the other original KISS members in recent years.

"I wish KISS the best, all the best on their final shows for the 'End Of The Road' tour," he said. "There's really no hard feelings. We say things sometimes in the heat of passion or sometimes our memory isn't… [we don't] recall things. But I love those guys. We're all getting old, our memory isn't what it used to be, so I just let it roll off my back."

Ten months ago, Frehley told SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk" that he was still open to playing with KISS at the band's final shows in New York City. "Money motivates me, just like it motivates them, but I don't put money before God," he explained. "If I got a quarter of a million dollars a night, and I can make half a million dollars for playing three or four songs, five songs, I'd take the money. [I'd] buy a Ferrari… buy a Maserati. [Laughs] I don't really wanna play with those guys ever again after what they've done, but money can change my mind."

Frehley continued: "Look, I'm a capitalist. I grew up in America. But I'd never put money before people's feelings. I like money as much as the next guy does, but money isn't my God, like it is theirs. They're all atheists. Whatever they can do or say, whether it's true or false, as long as it makes them the most amount of money, they're gonna do [it]."

Ace also addressed the issue of whether he would have performed with KISS at the band's final concerts while wearing his trademark "Spaceman" makeup — the same makeup his replacement Tommy Thayer had been sporting for more than two decades. "Sure. For a quarter of a million dollars," he said, explaining that "I'm a good-looking guy. I don't need the makeup."

When Trunk pressed Ace about what he thought the odds were of him playing with KISS at the final concerts in New York, Frehley said at the time: "It all depends on money. If I get a formal invitation with a check, I'll be there. But they've gotta have deep pockets… If they don't wanna pay me, I won't be there, ladies and gentleman."

Ace also once again confirmed that he had never received a formal invitation to join his former bandmates at their last-ever shows. "Absolutely not," he said. "From what I understand, the shows are sold out. The only reason they sold out is they made innuendos that me and Peter were gonna be there, [that] they invited us. I wasn't invited. They lie all the time. Haven't they said, 'We're inviting Ace and Peter to come up and play?' Or at least me? Multiple times. So, people bought the tickets. But I haven't been given a formal invitation or given an offer monetarily. And I'm probably not gonna get one now after this interview. And guess what: I don't give a shit."

Despite everything that had been said between all the parties, Ace claimed that he still looks back fondly on his time with KISS and he doesn't hate his former bandmates.

"Look, the bottom line is this: deep down in my heart, I love those guys, because we created something so special that it will be remembered for years," he said. "When we're all dead and buried, there will still be people listening to KISS music. And I'm overjoyed. But I want my legacy to be cleared of any of this bullshit and lies."

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