THE SPACEMAN'S RETURN VOYAGE
Guitar Player|January 2022
Back on the road, Ace Frehley is still struttin' and smokin'.
JAMES VOLPE ROTONDI
SINCE ACE FREHLEY'S first departure from Kiss in 1980, the band's lead guitar chair has been held down by many capable, creative players, including Vinnie Vincent, Bruce Kulick, Mark St. John, and, its occupant since 2002, former Black 'N Blue guitar slinger Tommy Thayer. But if those players have served the band nobly, and even contributed a few fan favorites to Kiss's repertoire - Kulick's work on 1992's Revenge is particularly noteworthy - the band's melodic, hooky lead guitar legacy was framed, built, established and given enduring wings by one man: the inimitable Paul Daniel Ace Frehley, a.k.a. the Spaceman.

Y'know, I can remember as a kid hearing Eric Clapton interviewed, talking about his solo on Cream's 'Sunshine of Your Love, recalls the 70-year-old Frehley, fresh from a soundcheck with his recently reinvigorated Ace Frehley Band (see Enter the Talismen, page 39). And Clapton said the solo on that song was basically the melody from Elvis's 'Blue Moon' I clearly remember him saying that the best and most memorable solos are the ones you can hum. I never forgot that, and that's stayed with me my whole life.”

He's not the only one it stayed with: Entire generations of players – while simultaneously pledging allegiance to Frehley's idols, like Clapton, Jimmy Page and Pete Townshend (the master of chordal work) – were equally inspired by Ace's savvy synthesis of bluesy bends, wicked triplet licks and smart chord-specific note choices that always stuck to the chordal skeleton of the track, never devolving into what Frank Zappa famously called spoo.

Not that it was an exercise in quantum physics for Frehley, a spontaneous player who doesn't speak the language of minor-sixths and the Mixolydian mode, however much he may actually play those very things. You take the whole extended after-solo on 'She, from Kiss Alive!, he explains. I mean, I'm just having fun there. It was always about having fun for me. A little too much fun at times, admits Frehley, who practically lived at Studio 54 in its decadent heyday and has been proudly sober for the last decade and a half.

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