Ace Frehley 'No Regrets': KISS Member Talks Rocker Lifestyle, Gene Simmons' Crabs In New Memoir
Ace Frehley -- also known as the "Spaceman" from the band KISS -- has penned a tell-all memoir aptly titled "No Regrets." An interesting read chronicling the rocker's time with the band, the 60-year-old Bronx native's book details how he lived a life of rockstar excess complete with rock 'n' roll every night and parties every day.
Frehley chatted with The Huffington Post, and no, he didn't have kind words for former band mates Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.
You write that, in the early years of KISS, it was very much a group effort.
Yeah, it was a collaborative effort. Gene and Paul have tried to minimize my and Peter [Criss'] contributions. It was all for one and one for all. We were all just trying to put on the best show and come up with interesting ideas.
And then you became disheartened with the whole rockstar lifestyle.
To me, being a rockstar was getting paid to do something you loved to do, and toward the end it wasn't fun anymore. Part of my disenchantment was probably fed by my addictions though.
Was there a moment you realized you had to stop drinking alcohol?
There were several -- it's just whether or not I followed through with them that was the big question. It took me a while to figure it out. The last one was when my daughter called me on the phone and she did like an intervention with me and after getting off the phone with her, I just said, "Ok, that's it. Time to grow up." I never wanted to grow up. Being in the rock and roll business, nobody grows up. Everybody deflects responsibility.
You're coddled a bit in the industry.
You have a cushion. You always have your bodyguard and your manager. You don't have to be responsible for your actions. I'd be driving down the highway doing 100 miles an hour and I'd get pulled over by a state trooper. I'd give him an 8x10 autograph and he'd let me go. You get to feel like you're above the law. You can get away with anything. You're in a safety bubble and then once that bubble's not there anymore, you tumble and fall.
I love the story about how you met your AA sponsor.
He was one of my arresting officers. Eventually, when I started going to AA on a regular basis, he became my sponsor. Through the ups and downs, he's always been there for me. We still talk to each other at least a couple of times a week.
I can't believe you hated playing, "I Was Made for Loving You." I love that song.
I wasn't a big fan of the song to begin with because it was kind of disco and I felt like we were kind of selling out because I'm a hard rock guitar player. Beyond the fact that I didn't like the song, when we performed it live, I had to make that "chukka, chukka" sound during the majority of the song and I used to get cramps in my wrist, to add insult to injury.
I think it's hilarious that Gene gave the band crabs.
(Laughs) It wasn't that funny at the time. Our road manager would pack all our leather outfits together in one crate and of course they jump from one costume to the other, so we all ended up with it. After that went down, we decided to keep our costumes separate.
Why do you think Gene was so loose with both women and money?
That's a question you'd have to ask Gene. I've never been able to completely figure out Gene. He always told me he'd do anything for money. He said he'd even dress up in a ballerina outfit if somebody would pay him enough money. I never completely understood that ideology. Gene has his good points too, but he falls short in a lot of categories.
So you feel like Gene and Paul were money hungry?
That was where we disagreed. To me, it's more important to make decisions based on what sounded the best and [to them it] was what the quickest way to make money was. We often didn't agree on certain things.
Do you still speak to Gene?
I had lunch with him about four weeks ago. On a superficial level, we've always been friends because of all we've been through. We didn't get into anything heavy; we kept it light and reminisced about the past. I actually gave him part of the book about the time he saved my life -- a couple of times -- from drowning. I figured that would soften the blow for some of the negative stuff.
He saved you from drowning twice?
Once in a swimming pool at a Holiday Inn and another one in a bathroom in a hotel room that was overflowing. I've often wondered why I'm still alive, because by all rights I shouldn't be here. But I guess God kept me alive for a reason. Maybe the reason is to inspire other kids who are in trouble with alcohol and drugs -- maybe they'll try a different path.
Also the shows were becoming very rigid, right?
It felt like a Broadway show. You have to be at a certain place at a certain time or you get your head blown off from a flash pot. It became tedious. It wasn't fun. It became work. The whole reason I went into rock and roll was because I was getting paid to do something that was fun and I enjoyed doing. Towards the end it lost its attraction.
I do love your nickname for cocaine in the '70s.
Yeah, Betty White. Everybody loved it and we could use it on the phone and nobody would have a clue what the hell we were talking about. We'd say, "Is Betty White going to be at the party?"
And now you're sober and engaged.
It's a lot more enjoyable being with someone sober. It's fun to wake up and remember what you did the night before. There's much more depth in our relationship when you can remember what you did and your feelings are real and not brought about by chemicals.