No Regrets: A rock ‘n’ roll memoir, Frehley, Ace, VH1 books, 2011.
With the release of Ace Frehley’s Origins Vol. 1, I thought this was a perfect occasion to take a look back at the Spaceman’s account of his time in and out of KISS, No Regrets.
Of course, I’m a huge KISS fan. When I learned that original member and guitarist Ace Frehley would write a book I thought this was his chance to from his perspective and maybe defend himself from some of the bad things that were said about him by Paul and Gene all those years-No Regrets: A rock n roll memoir gave him that chance.
I always liked Ace, he loved to play Rock ‘N’ Roll more than anything, was always in the shadow of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley and didn’t have the biggest part in decision making for KISS. He didn’t want to deceive fans, but had to follow when it was decide the band pursue styles found on albums like Dynasty and The Elder. Frehley was the always the rock’n’roll guy in KISS.
Ace’s book is not exactly a typical Rock’N’Roll biography from point A to point B that chronicles every event of his life. Well, maybe to a certain degree -it is mostly in chronological order- but it is more of a collection of wild rock’n’roll stories from his career in and out of KISS along with some biographical content and his thoughts on the events that happened in his life. He does go through everything KISS, including the albums he made with the band. I must admit, I wish he wrote in more details but it’s clear the years of substance abuse have had effect on his memory.
Paul “Ace” Frehley begins the book by explaining some of his relationships with his family and proceeds to demonstrate how he was the black sheep of the family until he joined KISS and latter became successful and a millionaire. Then he goes details his younger years in high school, discovering music, playing guitar, founding bands, playing gigs and girlfriends. Much of the book is about the 1970’s, to give you an idea about halfway through No Regrets he’s talking about the making of Destroyer and you know what? That’s more than fine by me.
A lot of the book is about the KISS years and the decadence that happened around then, not so much for the other members of KISS (except Peter) but surely for Ace. I loved when Frehley went on about the the late 1970’s from 78-80 where he felt KISS made some questionable decisions. The solo albums for one, the making of KISS Meets The Phantom, the disco-flavored “I Was Made For Loving You” (but he credits Dynasty as being one of the best KISS albums) and the ridiculous amount of merchandising that was going on at the time. He didn’t always agree, but to his credit (or blame), he always went along with it.
Ace also gives credit where credit is due: Bill Aucoin, Sean Delaney, Neil Bogart, Bob Ezrin, Eddie Kramer… and he even credits Eddie Solan who is not all that well-known in the KISS universe. Ace felt he should be acknowledged for his contributions, he stresses that Solan played a role in what became the KISS juggernaut which I thought was very thoughtful (never heard anyone mention him previously). This is more surprising: he even credits Gene with saving his life…twice!
Reading about his departure from KISS, those years when he didn’t tour and had not formed Frehley’s comet yet was interesting. So was his solo career but after his departure from KISS, I began to feel like the book was just going through things a little too fast without as much detail or information and overlooking certain things. Definitely some skimming happening there.
It was very interesting to read what Ace had to say about Gene Simmons who slammed Ace in his first book KISS and Make-Up back in 2001. Ace analyzes Gene in a certain way and makes interesting arguments, yet he doesn’t say a whole lot of negative things, I mean, he did but they don’t come off as being terribly hateful, it could have been much worse. He even says he loves Gene.
Frehley talks very little about Paul Stanley, mostly in good, and of course has nothing but good things to say about Peter Criss. In one of the book’s more humorous moments, addressing his thoughts about the current lineup of KISS, he writes: “In reality, I think they’re just a bunch of dirty rotten whores. Awk!” Typical Ace.
I really wish the book was more detailed and longer. For instance the reunion tour and the farewell tour have very little coverage when they were obviously an important part of Ace’s life. The Psycho Circus album is only briefly mentioned and Ace only talks about the inclusion of one of his songs that had to be re-written and how it was the only song with the four original members on the album. He doesn’t give his opinion on the album itself or any other insight. The Psycho Circus tour is completely ignored and the early 1990’s are completely ignored until 1995 when Frehley talks about the Bad Boys of Rock ‘N’ Roll tour he did with Peter, MTV Unplugged and reuniting with KISS.
I liked reading about the days after he left KISS and had a solo career but after mentioning Trouble Walking, Ace says that he toured in 1992 and 94 and decided not to release another album. Or how about the fact that there is nothing written between the years 2003-2008? From the second time he left KISS until his last studio album Anomaly in 2009 there is literally no content on those years except a phone call from Gene in 2007. I wish he would have talked more about those time periods and filled in the blanks.
Don’t get me wrong I love the content and reading things from Ace’s perspective, although at times his perspective is flawed. Much has been said about Ace having trouble remembering parts of his life, maybe that explains why some parts of his life seem to be missing or are simply skimmed through in the book. I also wish there were more pictures.
After reading the book and looking back, it’s amazing that Paul Frehley has been so lucky. He even says so himself. There was always someone, somewhere who somehow came to rescue Ace from whatever trouble he put himself in. Every time he recalls being arrested in No Regrets (and that’s many occasions), the cops always recognized him or let him go after he explained who he was- or had some ridiculous excuse/ was extremely lucky. Even the story about his dad at the beginning of the book shows incredible luck for his father; maybe it’s a Frehley family thing.
I don’t want to say that I know Ace Frehley more because I don’t personally know him. I feel like I understand him more after reading No Regrets. Frehley’s book is a great read for the hardcore KISS fan and no doubt the help of contributors Joe Layden and John Ostrosky helped because even if No Regrets is not written as if Ace himself read to you, it reads surprisingly well.
I think No Regrets is a must read for Ace and KISS fans. It’s a good book, but I hoped for a little more. Overall, still a good read. 3.5/5 stars is my rating, no regrets about reading this book.