Gene Simmons Opens Up on Ex-Kiss Guitarist Who Was Difficult to Work With, Explains Why Ace Frehley Was Hard to Replace

In a recently published interview on Guitar World, Kiss bassist and one of the band’s two masterminds, Gene Simmons, looked back on the time of uncertainty and the 1982 album “Creatures of the Night.” Although credited on the record, Ace Frehley didn’t perform on it. Instead, the band had a collective of session players, plus Vinnie Vincent who officially replaced Frehley. Reflecting on those times, Simmons said:

“By the time ‘Creatures‘ happened, Ace was already gone. Ace doesn’t appear on a single song on ‘Creatures of the Night.‘ His only appearance was in the promotional shots, and he did us a favor by appearing in the ‘I Love it Loud‘ music video.

But even that was a mistake because he clearly didn’t know the song and had to fake his way through the entire thing. So, not only were we feeling very unsure of what we were doing, we didn’t even have a lead guitarist.”

Kiss - Creatures Of The Night (Visualizer)

He also adds:

“Even with all that was happening, the magic of Kiss shined through. We were down two original members and had no guitar player, but the songs surprisingly turned out just fine. And I have to say, we couldn’t have done it without Eric [Carr]. He worked very hard to bring in that heavier drum sound, and with his help, many of those songs like ‘War Machine,‘ and ‘I Love It Loud‘ became staples that are still in our set to this day.”

Discussing the decision to bring in session guitar players, Simmons said:

“We had to find a workaround for the Ace issue. And that wasn’t easy because, for all his issues, Ace was a unique player. We held open auditions out in L.A., and everyone from Richie Sambora to Slash to Doug Aldrich to Punky Meadows came down. None of them were a fit, but we couldn’t wait around for the right person.”

“So, we went ahead and recorded ‘Creatures’ with session players. Guys like Steve Farris, Robben Ford, and a guitarist who at the time was called Vincent Cusano.”

Kiss - Saint And Sinner (Visualizer)

Talking about Vinnie Vincent joining the band, as well as the guitarist’s creative contributions, Simmons explained:

“I do feel Vinnie’s contributions are overstated. I feel they’re overstated, and I’ll tell you why: to begin with, that’s not even Vinnie playing on the entire record. He played on a few tracks in total. And Vinnie will often talk about his songwriting on ‘Creatures,‘ and yes, he helped with several, but the contributions of Adam Mitchell are there, too. But even that was an issue because we were writing at Adam’s house, and Vinnie cornered me and said, ‘Hey, forget about this Adam guy. I should be writing the songs. We don’t need him.’

“Looking back, I thought that was pretty sneaky. It was sneaky and an early indicator of Vinnie’s character, but we went along with it. And one of the first things we came up with was ‘I Love It Loud.’ I was living with Diana Ross and I was at her Beverly Hills house one day, and I remembered coming up with an early version of that song.”

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“It was a simple thing – I was referencing the melody of The Who’s ‘My Generation,‘ and I came up with the chords and the melody. And I remember calling Vinnie, getting him involved, and he actually wrote most of the lyrics.”

However, Simmons also reflected on how Vincent was difficult to collaborate with, being very solo-focused and trying to make everything revolve around lead sections. Gene explained:

“I remember that Vinnie brought in ‘Killer.’ We liked it, but he fought tooth and nail over the solo. Vinnie wanted to make every solo this massive thing. But Paul and I would bring him specific solos; we gave them to him and asked him to play them verbatim, but he refused.

Kiss - Killer (Visualizer)

“He didn‘t want to do that, but honestly, everything that Vinnie did sounded like Yngwie Malmsteen on crack. You know, the kind of stuff that the rest of us normal human beings hate. It was ridiculous, and it certainly wasn’t Kiss.”

“It got to the point where we had to put our foot down. We said, ‘Look, you’re going to play the notes exactly as we tell you to.’ And that’s how the solo for ‘I Love It Loud‘ came together. We didn’t need to be ripping apart the puzzle pieces of his solos and trying to splice them together, and that’s what was happening. 

“We didn’t feel we needed to be in a situation where we were fighting with Vinnie Vincent over how the songs should sound. He wasn’t a member of Kiss – to remind everyone, Vinnie Vincent was never an official, legal member of Kiss. To this day, Vinnie Vincent has never signed a contract with Kiss.”

Photos: Tilly Antoine (Gene Simmons (Kiss) au Hellfest 2019), Tilly Antoine (Ace Frehley en concert à Tilburg en juin 2008)

David Slavkovic

David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.

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