Whether KISS's Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley had a plan in mind when they rehashed Peter Criss and Ace Frehley's well-documented addiction battles in a recent Guitar World interview we will never know.
What we do know is that Frehley is beyond tired of having his name dragged through the mud by his former band mates. That much he made clear in a lengthy rant posted Tuesday evening to his official Facebook page.
Simmons has admitted that he often talks without thinking, and his behavior over the last two years has been proof enough. But the bassist's recent comments on the prospect of Frehley returning to Kiss for the band's farewell tour are illustrative of a larger issue at hand: a lot of people just don't want Ace Frehley to succeed in his sobriety.
While it's callous to suggest Stanley and Simmons want their longtime friend Frehley to fall off the wagon, it certainly serves their "three strikes" narrative to continually remind people of Space Ace's transgressions.
"Your slanderous remarks about my bad habits over the years has cost me millions of dollars and now that I'm over 12 years sober, you're still saying I can't be trusted to play a whole night's show!" Frehley wrote in his Simmons/Stanley burn notice Tuesday. "Well that's exactly what I've been doing for the last 12 years with different configurations of 'The Ace Frehley Band' to you and Paul's dismay!"
Even many of Frehley's loyal fans like to interpret the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's behavior as signs of non-stop boozing. But it's not.
Radio personality Eddie Trunk says he's seen Frehley's evolution first hand over the last few decades. Trunk worked in A&R at Megaforce Records in the mid-'80s and signed Frehley to his first solo record deal. He says Frehley was "a mess" at times, but those days are behind him.
"The guy that I've known for the last 12 years is a completely different guy and it's really unfortunate that he doesn't get that credit," Trunk said.
"Ace was the lovable f---up in Kiss. So people love to think he still is. People look for that. ... People want him to fall of the wagon, they want him to be a mess, or they just perpetuate that he still is a mess because it's more fun that way."
Regarding Frehley's behavior on stage, Trunk added that the guitarist has "a lot of residual damage" from so many years of drug and alcohol abuse.
Sometimes Frehley looks off-kilter, he doesn't have a good memory, he slurs his speech a little and he doesn't hear well (something Frehley credits the Marshall Amplification Company with).
"That's him sober," Trunk emphasized. "I know that for a fact. ... Ace stumbling around on stage — that's his character. That's what he's been doing for years, drunk or not."
Frehley is proud of his sobriety and of his improving health. In an October interview with Q104.3's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke, Frehley revealed that he dropped over 30 pounds last year thanks to abiding by a strict diet.
"People are saying ... 'Ace is slimming down so he can fit into his old [Kiss] costume,'" Frehley told Clarke. "I just wanted to lose the weight. I got tired of sucking in my gut on stage (laughs)."
Frehley rarely brings up his sobriety because he doesn't want to be miscast as someone who tells others how to live their lives (i.e. Simmons).
Over and over again, the guitarist has extended the proverbial olive branch to Simmons and Stanley. Stanley sang on Frehley's 2016 Origins, Vol. 1 album. Simmons and Frehley co-wrote two songs for Frehley's 2018 Spaceman album — they even toured together last summer.
In his post Tuesday, Frehley also accused Simmons of sexual misconduct against his wife. Something that he says occurred after one of his Vault Experiences last year, which Frehley attended as a special guest.
"She was planning on pursuing a suit against you, but I told her to call it off!" Frehley wrote to Simmons in his post.
Make no mistake: Frehley is upset, in part, because he wants back in Kiss. He's been completely honest about that.
It's a loose end in his career that he wants to tie up. He helped build up the band from nothing, in his view, only to get cut out of his share of the rewards years later. And if you read between the lines of his tirade, it certainly seems like he's been trying for years to ingratiate himself with Stanley and Simmons to that end.
Stanley and Simmons have surely reaped the rewards of Frehley's contributions and his eventual departure. It allowed them to secured a larger stake in the Kiss brand, and even today they are selling out areas on their End of the Road tour with the tantalizing suggestion that Frehley might drop in "for a song or two."
So you can imagine why Ace is upset.
"Well now the gloves are off after your terrible comments today," Frehley wrote in conclusion.
"Without a complete and heartfelt apology, an offer to give me my old job back, and removing Tommy [Thayer] from the throne that I created... THE S--T WILL HIT THE FAN AND THEY'LL BE NO STOPPING IT — IT'S ON!"
Kiss has yet to respond to Frehley's statement. The band's farewell tour begins tonight.
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