No Regrets: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir, by Ace Frehley, with Joe Layden and John Ostrosky (Simon & Schuster, RRP $40):
You probably know the name better than you know the face. In fact, it’s safe to say that at the height of his career Ace Frehley could have walked down the street without being recognised by any of his fans.
He is, of course, one of the original members of KISS and as the flamboyant guitarist with the Spaceman makeup, he would be instantly recognisable.
Shove a guitar in his hands and you’d also probably know who he was in an instant.
This book is exactly what it says on the cover: a rock ‘n’ roll memoir. From Frehley’s early life, growing up in the Bronx and hovering on the fringes of joining a gang (although, the Duckies just isn’t a gang name that conjures up mental images of anything scary – quite the opposite, in fact), to his time with KISS and beyond, this gives a behind-the-makeup look into the life of someone who has played an important role in rock history.
Fortunately, Frehley was easily distracted and instead of becoming a fully fledged member of the gang he learned to play guitar. In 1972, he spotted an advertisement in the Village Voice: “lead guitarist wanted with flash and ability”. Keen to move on with his musical career and secure in the knowledge that he had both flash and ability, he picked up his phone and called the number and arranged to turn up for the open audition a few weeks later.
It probably wasn’t the most rock ‘n’ roll start to things when he had his mum drive him to the audition.
We all know that he was accepted into the band, and from there his life changed forever.
The booze, the drugs and the divisions within KISS (especially with bassist Gene Simmons) as time went by have already been well documented elsewhere but in this book Frehley is particularly up-front on just how bad things were at times. But things were also pretty good, and those times are also covered.
I read Simmons’ 2002 book KISS And Make Up a few years ago and while it was fascinating reading, Simmons himself came across as an obnoxious but hard-working egomaniac who spent most of his time in his younger days chasing women.
Frehley’s book seems to offer the same picture of Simmons, but Frehley doesn’t present himself as any sort of saint.
Instead, he paints a picture of a rocker who wanted fame without too much hard work and who is probably lucky he survived it, given the hard living and even harder partying he did.
Above all else, his story comes across as honest and, as the title says: with no regrets.