Say It's Your Birthday: Ace Frehley

Today is the birthday of Ace Frehley, the original guitar player in

Kiss, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1950. Kiss were the spiritual

descendants of Alice Cooper with their makeup and their good, loud

anthemic rock & roll. Signed to the newly formed Casablanca Records

in 1974, under the wing of a manager who was responsible for "Super

Market Sweep," this band took America by storm with their simplistic

lyrics and hard driving guitars. After three albums, in 1976 they

gained a foothold on the arena rock circuit, dazzling audiences with

a stage show built as much around smoke bombs, floating drum risers,

flashpots, and outrageousness, as around the music itself. At the

height of their popularity in 1978, the members of the band released

simultaneous solo albums. All were good, but Ace's outshone and

outsold the others. In the '80s, with less imaginative albums, a

possible breakup was rumored. Drummer Peter Criss was replaced by

Eric Carr; then Ace left an album later, replaced by Vinnie Vincent.

Kiss also ditched the makeup in a marketing about-face. Vincent left

shortly after, replaced first by Mark St. John, and later by Bruce

Kulick. This line-up brought Kiss to a new generation of fans, but at

the peak of this new popularity Carr died of brain cancer in 1991. Not

giving up, Kiss recorded Revenge, which some cite as their best

work in fifteen years. Kiss will never be what they once were, but

they have laid a lot of groundwork for many of today's bands, as

evidenced by their Kiss My Ass compilation, released last year.

Ace Frehley plays the small club circuit with his band Frehley's

Comets. It is also the birthday of Kate Pierson (B-52's), Sheena

Easton, and Marco Pirroni (Adam and the Ants).