One of my fondest heavy metal memories is seeing Ace Frehley at the now-defunct Underground, a former rock club in Lowell, MA, back in March 1994.
At the time my friend Wayne and I were a few months shy of our 21st birthdays. But we liked to drink (still do), and outside in the parking lot we pre-gamed in good Ace fashion, splitting a 12 pack of Zima.
Yes, we split a 12-pack of that now-infamous malt liquor that (to quote David Letterman) “tasted like Zhit.” It did, but we weren’t picky. As I recall it was introduced that year and everyone was drinking it. It was “Zomething different.” Don’t judge me too harshly.
|Putrid, but fun.|
Inside they were handing out wristbands to anyone 21 and older to ease the sale of liquor (it was dark, and crappy inside, hard to check IDs). But they weren’t checking these too close, and Wayne and I discovered that we could freely buy Bud from the young waitresses working the crowd.
All was going great until Wayne caught the eye of a bouncer with 3-4 songs to go. With a beer in his hand and no wristband, Wayne got tossed. And I had a decision to make.
Shit man, I said to myself. Ace hasn’t played Do Ya yet. Fuck it, I’m staying. And so I did. While Wayne cooled off outside, I rocked out to the encore.
He still gives me shit about it to this day. No regrets from me though.
Anyway, tomorrow night Wayne and I will be seeing 71-year-old Ace again, this time at the Cabot Theater in Beverly. Can’t wait. The Spaceman oozes style, and always puts on a good show.
Ace was always the coolest member of KISS. Never a good singer by anyone’s imagination but he wrote and performed some good material. “Rock Soldiers.” “Shock Me.” “Strange Ways.” “Fractured Mirror.” “Snowblind.” “Rip It Out.” Covers of “Do Ya,” “New York Groove” and “2000 Man.” Live he plays a lot of old classic KISS songs, including “Gold Gin,” a stone-cold classic which he wrote, and “Parasite,” which he co-wrote with Paul Stanley. I think he was a talented guitar player, with a unique sound and style, even though he squandered a lot of that native ability beneath a flood of booze and drugs in the 70s and 80s.
His 1978 self-titled album is duly accorded as the best of the four solo efforts by KISS.
Here's his cool guitar work from “Fractured Mirror,” off that same album.