Released: 2011, Gallery Books
Two of the four original Kiss members have written autobiographies. Gene Simmons 2001 autobiography, KISS AND MAKEUP was fantastic. Ace Frehley’s new autobiography, NO REGRETS is no less interesting as through the years he provided a foil to Gene’s controlled (and relatively clean) lifestyle. Paul and Peter maintained a slightly more private lifestyle. What I’m getting at is that Ace had the most negative press out of all of the Kiss members over the years. Gene’s book didn’t have too much dirt, Peter autobiography, MAKEUP TO BREAKUP is slated for a late 2012 release, and due to the guarded nature of Paul, it’s unlikely he will ever write one. Even Eric Carr’s new biography THE ERIC CARR STORY (which I also reviewed this month) was relatively tame, so for the real dirt you gotta read NO REGRETS.
NO REGRETS is a good-looking book with over 70 glossy, full colour photos. These photos really anchor the book as very few of the shots have Ace in his costume or performing live. There are millions of those types of photos around. And we have all seen them before. The vast majority of the photos are causal shots without makeup providing a rare glimpse behind the scenes and into his life. Ace really dug deep into the archives and there are some great visuals here.
Ace is an entertaining and spontaneous storyteller. His tales of adventure come across as free-spirited (or some might say irresponsible) but as they title he says, no regrets. I think Ace can look back with no regrets because of his dumb luck and good fortune. The number of stupid risks he took is astonishing and somehow (mostly because of his rockstar fame and authorities looking the other way) he has escaped relatively unscathed. Any number of his misadventures could have ended up resulting in jail time, ruining his career, or even causing fatalities. If anyone of things had happened the title of the book might have been very different.
All the classic Ace stories are here. The electrocution, the near-drowning(s), the self-inflicted gunshot wound, the multiple missed flights, the addictions, the crashed Porsche and of course the crashed DeLorian story which was immortalized in his song ‘Rock Soldiers’. This guy has a horseshoe up his ass. All these legendary stories we as fans have heard time and time again, are finally detailed from the source. It’s nice to read the truth, or at least his version of the truth. It’s clear he still harbours some deep emotional wounds and still holds a pretty serious grudge against Gene and to a lesser degree Paul.
The major flaw and my only complaint with his book are the appalling lack of detail about the recent years of his life. The last quarter century of Ace’s life (roughly 1987-today) is glossed over in less than 50 pages of the books 300 page length. All of the info about Frehley’s Comet, The Criss/Frehley Bad Boys Tour, the KISS Reunion Tour, and his rebirth as a solo artist are all skimmed over in disappointingly superficial detail. Sure, the vast majority of casual readers want to read about in his decade in KISS circa 1973-1982, I get it. For the rest of us, the true fans who have supported him over the years, it felt like a slap in the face to skip whole huge chunks of his life story.
Ace comes across as a sincere and likeable fellow, generous to a fault, always up for a good time and ready to share the wealth with like-minded party people, like comedian John Belushi. We all know how that ended. Likely, the most sensitive and musically minded of the four original members it was fascinating to read about his early days, his descent into drug and alcohol abuse and eventual recovery. His life story is tragic and enviable at the same time. Ace will always be Ace, as time of writing (December 2012) he just broke his arm in a fall at his home. At least it wasn’t during his book signing tour!