Top 10 Ace Frehley Kiss Songs

Ace Frehley Kiss Songs

Feature Photo: Casablanca Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

While it’s common knowledge Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley mainly shared the role as lead singers behind some of Kiss’s best songs, did you know Ace Frehley had at least ten of those as well? During his run with Kiss as its lead guitarist, he was also the same singer and songwriter behind much of the group’s musical material as one of its founding fathers.

Born and in New York City’s borough The Bronx in 1951, Paul Daniel Frehley grew up as the youngest of three children in a musical household. Upon receiving his first electric guitar as a Christmas gift when he was thirteen years old, Paul Frehley taught himself how to play it. This wasn’t difficult to do as his parents were pianists while his older siblings were able to play both instruments. His brother, Charles, grew up to become a classical guitarist while Paul perfected his skill with an electric guitar. Like many kids his age at the time, he was a big fan of guitar legends like Jimi Hendrix.

While in high school, Paul earned “Ace” as a nickname from his buddies as they observed his mix of charm and good looks made it easy for him to win over the girls. As talented as Ace Frehley was with the guitar, he also had a knack for graphic art design. He was encouraged at the time to consider a career in that field. However, the interest to pursue a musical career instead took precedence. After playing in a few gigs with a few different bands, Frehley briefly dropped out of high school before going back to at least get his diploma. After that, he held a series of odd jobs but he never gave up on his desire to play music. Before Kiss, he was with a band called Molimo, and together recorded an album in 1971 under the RCA Records label.

First Kiss

After responding to a 1972 ad for a lead guitarist, Ace Frehley showed up at the Live Bait Bar to audition in front of Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley. After beating out the competition, Frehley became the fourth piece of a four-man band that would call themselves Kiss. It was during this time they realized they needed to come up with an identity that would make them stand out above the rest of the rock musicians that were also trying to make a name for themselves. This began with a double lightning bolt design as part of Kiss’s logo. Putting his graphic design talent to good use, Frehley’s artwork was later fine-tuned by Stanley. In 1973, Kiss was officially born as a rock group. Not long after this, the decision to sport face paint and comic book-style costumes also became a familiar trademark that would put Kiss on the map as the most unique rock group at the time. In order to amplify their stage presence even further, Kiss ventured into the territory of shock rock to wow the fans.

When each band member was given the option to choose an altered identity they could relate to, Ace Frehley chose Space Ace. He was also referred to as The Spaceman. Going into 1974, the group produced Kiss as their debut album. This marked the first occasion Frehley served as one of the band’s songwriters. “Love Theme from KISS” and “Cold Gin” were the two he came up with. However, instead of performing them as a lead singer at the time was beyond Frehley’s comfort zone. Gene Simmons would sing these two songs instead of him. At the time, the preference for Frehley to serve as a backing vocalist and lead guitarist for the songs he wrote was good enough. That changed in 1975 Alive! and its cult classic “Shock Me.”

Acing It

Just like his Kiss bandmates, Ace Frehley embarked on a solo career, first with his self-titled album that was recorded and released in 1978. Among his bandmates, Frehley’s stab as a recording artist on his own was the most successful. After this, when Kiss came together as a group again in 1979, Frehley’s influence as a songwriter grew. 1979’s Dynasty and 1980’s Unmasked each had three songs written by Frehley featured in their respective recordings. This came at a time when Kiss’s popularity overseas was increasing while at the same time within Canada and the United States, decreasing. It didn’t help that in 1980 Peter Criss was removed from Kiss’s lineup by popular vote, a decision that didn’t sit with Frehley well. At the time, Criss’s replacement was Eric Carr as the band’s new drummer. Although it was still a four-man band, the decisions were primarily made by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.

Upon going into 1981’s Music from “The Elder” as an album recording, the influence Ace Frehley had in it was far less than what he had in Dynasty and Unmasked. 1982’s Creatures of the Night saw this same pattern. It was enough to prompt Frehley to go back to pursuing his musical career as a solo artist. Replacing him as lead guitarist was Vinnie Vincent. Although Frehley was no longer part of the lineup, he still had one-fourth of the band’s profitable shares until 1985. In the meantime, Frehley started up his own band Frehley’s Comet. This venture met with success, as well as enabling Frehley to team up with his former Kiss bandmate, Peter Criss.

Second Kiss

When Kiss embarked on a reunion tour in 1996, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley joined in on what would later result in the recording and release of Psycho Circus. Despite the reunion, old wounds between all four bandmates still remained. Like Frehley, Criss’s creative input in Psycho Circus was limited. By 2001, as soon as Kiss finished its Farewell Tour, Frehley left the lineup for a second time. This came after Peter Criss had already left earlier in the year. Tommy Thayer took Frehley’s place as lead guitarist, as well as The Spaceman. Frehley did, however, join Simmons and Stanley on the Kiss Kruise that was held in October 2018.

While Kiss seemed a bit too “out there” in the music industry during the 1970s, the fans couldn’t get enough of them. After enjoying the height of their career going into 1980, the North American popularity of the group waned. In an attempt to rejuvenate Kiss’s career, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley did away with the face paint and the costumes until 1995 when they managed to win Criss and Frehley back into the lineup for a reunion tour. In 2013, although no longer together as a band, Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of the twenty studio albums, Kiss released, twelve of them had Frehley’s input. Dynasty was Kiss’s best-selling studio album on a global scale, which had considerably more of Frehley’s contribution than any of the others. Dynasty went on to become certified platinum among many nations, including the Recording Industry Association of America. With Music Canada, it became double platinum.

Top 10 Ace Frehley Kiss Songs

#10 – 2,000 Man

“2,000 Man” was a Rolling Stones song Ace Frehley covered while he was still performing as lead guitarist and singer for Kiss. This came from the album, Dynasty, which was released in 1979. Frehley’s version of this 1967 classic was a fan favorite during Kiss’s concerts until Frehley left the group in 1982. It wasn’t performed live again until he returned in 1996. This was a song that looked at the future of man as a number instead of a human being. For Mick Jagger and his bandmates, the reality of mankind leaning more on technology was the focal point of a song that was concerned about what would become of each person as time progressed. It was a song Frehley and his Kiss bandmates identified with, at least enough to deliver their own version of it to an audience that appreciated the edgier approach.

#9 – Hard Times

“Hard Times” came from the 1979 album, Dynasty. Written and sung by Ace Frehley, this came at a time when his influence in a Kiss recording was at its greatest. Written and performed as a piece of Frehley’s biography, it shared his time as a teenager living in New York City. The typical feeling most teens experience between high school expectations and peer pressure was amplified, Kiss style, when Frehley’s guitar solo felt like someone clawing his way to make a name for himself.

#8 – Into the Void

From Psycho Circus, “Into the Void” was Ace Frehley’s lone songwriting contribution to what was Kiss’s eighteenth studio recording. This song was about feeling lost in space, so to speak. As a song coming from The Spaceman, “Into the Void” was perfect as a song sung by someone caught in what felt like the realm of Nowhereville. The performance of this song demonstrated that even in the mid-1990s, Kiss still had it in them to bring forth hard rockin’ hits, twenty years after they first got started.

#7 – Save Your Love

“Save Your Love” was a song written and performed by Ace Frehley as Kiss’s lead vocalist. It was the final track featured on the album, Dynasty, which was released in 1979. This breakup song was sung as Kiss’s way of saying they no longer needed that special person in their life as a love interest. Whatever it was that was there once upon a time had run its course. If you’re expecting a ballad, you won’t find it here. This was a breakup song that made its point as Kiss rocked their message forward. The guitar solo performed by Frehley was, as usual, nothing short of awesome.

#6 – Talk to Me

Released in 1980 from Unmasked, “Talk to Me” was a song written and sung by Ace Frehley. As a single, it became a number ten hit in Switzerland, a number thirty-two hit in Germany, and a number thirty-nine hit in Australia. It was not released as a single in Canada or the United States. During this time, Kiss opted to engage in a pop-rock album instead of its heavier material. At least this was the direction Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley favored as they were listening to the record producers they had at that time.

Frehley wanted to stick with the hard rock formula that made Kiss such a fan favorite, to begin with. In many ways, Frehley’s contribution as a musician turned what could have been a disastrous album into one that at least became certified gold by Music Canada and the RIAA. as well as platinum in Australia and New Zealand. “Talk to Me” was one of two songs on the album that stood out as a fan favorite. Paul Stanley’s “Shandi” was the other one. Both of these songs were the heaviest on the album, proving Kiss was better off sticking to Frehley’s advice instead of Vini Poncia’s.

#5 – Rocket Ride

While with Kiss, Ace Frehley was known as The Spaceman. 1977’s “Rocket Ride” came from the album, Alive II. Suitably written and named after him as a spacey approach to sexual innuendos, “Rocket Ride” became one of the few songs that had Frehley perform as Kiss’s lead vocalist as well. It was during this time his confidence in his singing abilities grew. It was enough to release solo albums of his own. In 1998, he paid homage to “Rocket Ride” with “Rocket Dive” as a solo artist. In 2008, he went on The Rocket Ride Tour which paid homage to both songs as supported the release of his album, Anomaly. When “Rocket Ride” was first released as a single in 1978, it peaked as high as number thirty-nine on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was also a number forty-six hit in Canada.

#4 – Strange Ways

From the album, Hotter Than Hell, Ace Frehley wrote “Strange Ways,” a song Kiss’s drummer Peter Criss would sing as lead vocalist. While Criss belted out the lyrics, Frehley delivered a legendary performance as the crazy man behind the electric guitar. His solo performance as a musician was regarded as the kind of thing legendary guitar heroes are made of. At the time, the lack Frehley had in his abilities often had him turn to Criss as a collaborator. Together, the two realized “Strange Ways” was an incredible opportunity to deliver what became one of their best performances. While Kiss never played this in live concerts, it became a major fan favorite, as well as a critical favorite.

#3 – Shock Me

Up until “Shock Me,” Ace Frehley was content to simply write the songs and play lead guitar for Kiss. However, as his confidence in his singing ability grew, he finally took on the role of lead singer as he performed this classic from Kiss’s 1977 album, Alive! If there was ever a song that Frehley truly became electric, it was this one. “Shock Me” witnessed Frehley establish why he became one of the most legendary guitar heroes ever to exist. The inspiration behind this song came after a concert Kiss held on December 12, 1976, in Lakeland, Florida. Frehley literally had a shocking experience that not only knocked him to the ground but forced a thirty-minute delay in the concert performance. When the band was ready to play again that night, Frehley admitted he was unable to feel his hand until it was over. “Shock Me” became Frehley’s signature song as a Kiss band member, as well as his first that would feature him as a lead singer. When he recorded “Shock Me,” he did this while laying on the ground.

#2 – Parasite

Released in 1974 from the album Hotter Than Hell, “Parasite” was a song written by Kiss’s Ace Frehley. This was one of the heavier songs featured on a recording that didn’t receive much attention from the band until 1992. Written at a time when Frehley wasn’t confident enough yet in his singing abilities, the lead vocalist role went to Gene Simmons at the time. It wouldn’t be until 2016 that Frehley would record this song on his own album, Origins Vol. 1. Among hard rock and heavy metal fans, “Parasite” became a favorite. Anthrax covered and recorded Frehley’s classic in 1988, then again in 1991, and again in 1994. The garage punk style of “Parasite” really grew in popularity during the 1990s as the rise of grunge rock seemed to jolt new life into a song loaded with Frehley’s frenzied guitar riff.

#1 – Cold Gin

1974 marked the debut of Kiss as a group. Kiss was also the name of their first album. This marked the beginning of Ace Frehley’s career as one of the band’s songwriters. “Cold Gin” was written by him but his confidence as a singer at that time wasn’t enough to perform it as a lead vocalist. Instead, that role went to Gene Simmons. This song quickly became a fan favorite among Kiss fans. If you’re looking for a good drinking song that doesn’t pull back any punches, Frehley’s “Cold Gin” is it. This became Frehley’s signature song as a member of Kiss and as a solo artist. It’s also been covered many times over by a long list of recording artists, including Disturbed and Skid Row.

“Cold Gin” was a song that dealt with the issues of alcoholism and loneliness from the perspective of a struggling couple that was barely able to make ends meet. This song came to Frehley while he was in a subway before approaching Gene Simmons to help him complete it. At the time, the relations between all four Kiss members were at their best as a group of young men who could relate to the song’s story their own way. Although this song was never released as a single, it became a major fan favorite and it was performed live in concert often. When Ace Frehley left Kiss’s lineup, he finally had enough confidence to sing “Cold Gin” on his own.

Top 10 Ace Frehley Kiss Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

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