The Space Ace, Frehley's Comet, the coolest guy ever to have been in Kiss—call Ace Frehley what you want but, as a founding member of the New York hard rockers back in 1973, and as the guy who provided the guitar-heroic riffs to "Detroit Rock City," "Cold Gin," and "Rock and Roll All Nite," his place in rock history is assured. Let us never forget the brilliant "Back in the New York Groove." He left Kiss in '82, rejoined in '96 for an enormous reunion tour and three tracks on '98's Psycho Circus album. That tenure lasted until 2002, and last year's Origins Vol.1 is his third album since reestablishing himself as a solo artist. A combination of covers and Kiss reworkings, the record features guest appearances from Slash, John5, Lita Ford, and former Kiss colleague Paul Stanley. The spaceman is coming to Tucson so, in anticipation, we asked Frehley to pick the top five albums (by others) that changed his life.
With Enuff Z'Nuff, Thursday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m., Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress. $30-$34. All Ages.
1. Jimi Hendrix—Are You Experienced?: I guess I was about 15. Nobody played guitar like Hendrix before and since. There's only one Hendrix. The way he approached guitar was radically different than most of the other guitar players in his era. It was absolutely an influence on my own playing.
2. Cream—Fresh Cream: I saw their first New York appearance in Midtown Manhattan, opening up for Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels. They were amazing. Clapton is one of the guitar players who taught me how to play guitar, by listening to his solos. It was a lot of fun covering "White Room" on Origins Vol. 1. Jim McCarty from the Detroit Wheels is quite a player too, and a good friend of mine. He ended up opening for me in the 1990s on a couple of shows. As a teenager, I copied his solo in "Devil With a Blue Dress On."
3. The Who—My Generation: Pete Townshend had a huge influence on me. He was just a master with chords. He was also a master at theatrical rock. The Who were forerunners in not just standing there and playing, but putting on a show. Keith Moon wrecking his drums, smoke bombs going off, Townshend smashing his guitar, knocking over the amplifiers—just the way he moved on stage was pretty radical for those days. The theatricality of The Who was a huge influence on Kiss. Paul (Stanley) also cites Pete Townshend as an influence on himself.
4. The Rolling Stones—Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass): I always gravitated towards the Stones instead of the Beatles because they were like the bad guys, when The Beatles were the good guys. They were getting busted for drugs, and they were a little darker with a harder edge.
5. The Beatles—Please Please Me: I do have to say that The Beatles' first album was a major influence on me too. I got into The Beatles before I got into the Stones, because I was just a kid. When I was 13, I was figuring out Beatles songs, and George Harrison was a great player. So was Lennon. Another thing that influenced me was the way Paul McCartney played bass. His bass lines were always pretty amazing. On that Revolver record, I remember the riff in "Taxman"—I've always loved riff songs.
Ace and Paul, 2016