Kiss’ Tommy Thayer Shares Honest Opinion on Ace Frehley, Names One Thing He Loves About Deep Purple’s ’Burn’

Recently, Guitar World published a new interview with Kiss guitarist Tommy Thayer. In particular, the interview focused on guitar players who helped him shape his sound. And, among a total of eleven players was none other than Ace Frehley — Kiss’ original member and one of the most influential guitar players of the 20th century. Reflecting on how Ace impacted him, Thayer said:

“Ace obviously was a big, big influence on me and my desire to play guitar. When I started, I discovered Kiss and was immediately drawn to their look, their sound, and most importantly, the guitar playing.

“Ace played in a Clapton/Page style but made it his own. His guitar solos on the first three albums, plus Kiss’s ‘Alive!,’ were signature, melodic, and memorable. That’s what makes him and his playing so special.”

Among these guitar players was also Ritchie Blackmore, with Thayer explaining how important Deep Purple was in the early days of his musicianship. However, as he pointed out, he started out with the MK II and MK III lineups of the band. And “Burn” was one of his first albums. Tommy recalls:

“Because of my age [62], I was a Deep Purple Mk II and III fan first. I got the Burn album when I was 13 and just barely playing guitar. Blackmore had a wonderful way of combining fluid blues licks with classically inspired runs.

Going deeper into the details of Blackmore’s musicianship, Thayer also recalled one particular thing that he really loved about the album’s title track and it’s not what attracted most other Blackmore fans. He continued:

“On the song ‘Burn,‘ you can hear him switch his pickup selector between riffs – you can tell it was blow and go, very live, very real. Amazing.”

My First Gibson: Tommy Thayer of KISS

The list that Thayer shared also featured a few names that aren’t considered the absolute mainstream among rock fans. One of those is Pat Travers who was prominent back in the 1970s and the early 1980s. Tommy said of Pat:

“In the mid-to-late ’70s, I listened to an AM radio station in Portland called KVAN; they played all kinds of up-and-coming and imported hard rock. One day, I heard a six or seven-minute-long song that completely blew me away.

“It was a fiery new guitar player named Pat Travers, and the song was called Hooked on Music, from his latest LP called Makin’ Magic, with was only available as an import at the time. I went out and grabbed the album and couldn’t stop listening.

Tommy Thayer's Love Gun Solo - End Of The Road Tour

“I loved Pat’s chord voicings – I hadn’t heard anything like it. A few months later, he played the Paramount in Portland. He had Mars Cowling and Tommy Aldrich – what a friggin’ band! The sound was huge: he played a Gibson Melody Maker through four Marshalls and a Leslie. I was hooked.”

Another somewhat underrated name on the list was also Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen. He said of Rick:

“In true Spinal Tap tradition, I chose 11 players, and that 11th is Rick Nielsen. He’s one of the greatest riff-masters and tunesmiths of all time. He’s got style and attitude going way back to when I first saw Cheap Trick open for Kiss at the Portland Memorial Coliseum in ’77. I instantly loved everything about them, the look, the energy, the songs, the Hamer guitars, and the tattered Sound City cabinets.

KISS - The Night Ace Frehley Punched Tommy Thayer

“Like Pete Townshend, Rick’s approach goes from simple and raw ‘Hello There‘ to the epic ‘Dream Police‘ to the symphonic ‘Stop This Game.‘ He’s hands down one of my favorite guitar players.”

Of course, there was also Rush’s Alex Lifeson on the list, with Tommy explaining:

‘Caress of Steel‘ was the first Rush album that I had, and ‘Bastille Day‘ was the song I tried to learn first. Alex Lifeson played beautiful, loud, heavy guitar riffs, all churned into melodic songs with crazy sci-fi lyrics. Alex had the chords – I call them ‘golden chords’, with these droning, sustaining voicings that made his guitar playing symphonic. His sound was rich.

Epiphone | Tommy Thayer Electric Blue Les Paul Outfit Demo

“I saw Rush play at the Paramount Theater in Portland in the mid-’70s; you had me hanging on the edge of the stage, mesmerized by what I was hearing and seeing. Alex was regal with long shiny blond hair and bangs, rocking in front of a wall of Marshalls and Hiwatts. I realized then, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

As Kiss is slowly going into their final tour, a somewhat of a scandal shook the Kiss community after Ace Frehley spoke up on Paul Stanley’s not-so-flattering comments about him. To those who may not know, Stanley explained that original Kiss members weren’t welcome for a performance for their 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. To add salt to the wound, he said:

“Because we had too much pride in this lineup, which is Kiss, and has been Kiss for 20 years. It’s not newcomers. This is the band. We’ll be back in the stadiums of South America next month. We were there five months ago. We were in Japan. This is the band that has carried the flag and taken it, really, to another level. This is the band I always dreamed it would be, and for us to go onstage…”


“They were demanding, quite honestly, that we play with the two original guys, Peter [Criss] and Ace [Frehley], and at this point, that would be demeaning to the band, and also would give some people confusion. ‘Cause if you saw people on stage who looked like Kiss but sounded like that, maybe we should be called Piss.”

Angered by these comments, Frehley said in an interview:

“But as far as what he said on Howard Stern, I’m going to make a statement to Paul Stanley right now. And Paul, if you’re not listening, I’m sure one of your associates in the KISS group are. And I’m telling you that I want my formal apology for what you said and a retraction and an apology within seven days.

“And if I don’t get that within seven days, I’m coming back on Ed Trunk’s show and I’m gonna tell some dirt that nobody knows about Paul and Gene that I’ve always kept to myself because I’m the kind of guy who doesn’t talk about this. I like to talk about the positive stuff.

“You’ve read my book. You’ve read Paul’s book. You’ve read Peter’s book. A lot of times those guys are just throwing people under the bus. I mean, in Paul’s book, he even threw Gene under the bus.

Kiss Live In Helsingborg Full Concert 2022

“What I tried to do was have a fun, entertaining book with interesting stories, and this is the way I am. I’m not the kind of guy who kisses and tells. When it comes to negativity, and we’ve all done things that we regret over the years — it’s there.

“I have a 120-page manuscript that I wrote after I finished my book. My attorney has it in a safety deposit box. God forbid anything happens to me. My attorney is instructed to release it to The New York Times, Rolling Stone, API [sic], everybody.”

“So they can’t intimidate me with trying to hurt me or say, ‘You’d better not say anything about me live on the radio.’ Because then they’re totally screwed. Their careers will be ruined.”

Photos: Ash Newell (Tommy Thayer live2012), Tilly Antoine (Ace Frehley 2008 (cropped))


  • 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, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.