The odds of ever seeing all four original KISS members on a stage again grew even more remote after Ace Frehley ripped into Gene Simmons in a Facebook post Tuesday, calling his former bandmate “an asshole and a sex addict” who “groped my wife.” “The gloves are off,” Frehley declared in the eviscerating missive, which ended with the warning, “IT’S ON!”
Truth be told, those odds already looked as subzero as the current temperatures in Detroit Rock City. Frehley was responding to a cover story in Guitar World with remaining original members Simmons and Stanley, who were responding to never-ending questions about whether their ongoing alleged farewell tour would ever bring back Frehley and Peter Criss. Simmons allowed in that interview that the two exiled members might be invited to show up as guests. But as returning members playing an entire show? “Not on your f—ing life,” Simmons said, after claiming they’d both been fired three times “for drugs, alcohol, bad behavior, being unprofessional (and) not carrying their load.”
“So the short answer to your question is we’d love to have Ace and Peter join us here and there,” Simmons told Guitar World. “And if they don’t, it’s not going to be because of us. But they’re never going to be in KISS again.”
That led Frehley to declare war online, with his slams including an allegation of sexual impropriety. “The icing on the cake was when you groped my wife and propositioned her in Los Angeles at the Capitol Records building behind my back,” Frehley wrote, “when I was trying to help you out at one of your ‘Vault Experiences,’ which I only found out about several weeks later. She was planning on pursuing a suit against you, but I told her to call it off!!!”
He took issue with Simmons’ “slanderous” harping on his past substance abuse issues. “I was NEVER FIRED from KISS,” Frehley claimed on Facebook. “I quit twice (not three times) of my own free will, because you and Paul are control freaks, untrustworthy and were too difficult to work with! 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! Well that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 12 years with different configurations of the Ace Frehley Band, to you(r) and Paul’s dismay! I’m also the most successful solo artist to come out of the original KISS lineup, and proud of it! You and Paul have tried to derail my solo career multiple times over the years unsuccessfully.”
Ironically, perhaps, fans — and certainly Frehley himself — had come to believe there was a fresh détente in place among the former cohorts. Frehley and Simmons share songwriting credits on two songs on the former’s latest album, “Spaceman.” And Frehley had joined the current lineup of KISS on the “Kiss Kruise” just this past October, after not having performed with them since 2002, at the end of what was then also billed as a farewell tour. Their joint promotion of the “Vault Experience” also occurred in 2018.
“I’ve tried to be nice and friendly by inviting you and Paul to perform on my past albums for eOne Music, (and) give each of you guys one of my prized Gibson Les Paul 59’ models,” Frehley seethed, “but today’s comments have made me realize you’re just an asshole and a sex addict who’s being sued by multiple women, and you’re just trying to sweep it all under the carpet! … Well now the gloves are off after your terrible comments today and I’m thinking that this really may be “The End Of The Road Tour” for you guys!!! Without a complete and heartfelt apology, an offer to give me my old job back, and removing Tommy (Thayer, current touring KISS member) from the throne that I created… THE SHIT WILL HIT THE FAN AND THEY’LL (sic) BE NO STOPPING IT — IT’S ON!!!”
What does lead singer Stanley think of all this? As usual, he took a more passive voice than Simmons’ in the Guitar World interview, saying “it’s really not up to me” whether former members show up at tour dates, but “anybody who was shortsighted enough to think this should be a reunion is missing the point.”
If it’s any consolation to Frehley, he and Criss are not the only former members Simmons took to publicly beefing about, as he quashed any thought of a reconciliation with a later member, Vinnie Vincent. “It’s worth stating that Vinnie has sued the band and lost 14 times,” Simmons said. “Can he come to the shows? Of course! Anybody can. But onstage? Never.”
The 44-city “End of the Road” North American tour kicks off in Vancouver January 31 with Simmons and Stanley joined by fellow current members Thayer and Eric Singer and, most likely, no special guests.