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Gangs, fights, guitars: Ace Frehley revisits rough Bronx upbringing

KISS’s founding guitarist talks impact of old-school New York City “education.”

Ace Frehley became known as The Spaceman, the iconic guitarist in KISS for almost 10 years, but he came from humble beginnings and a tough neighborhood. Born Paul Daniel Frehley on April 27, 1951, he was born and raised in the borough of the Bronx in New York City. 

In a Goldmine interview, Ace explained the most "Bronx" thing about him.

"Probably my accent," laughed Frehley. "You can take the boy out of the Bronx but you can’t get the Bronx out of the boy. Growing up in the Bronx was really an education. I mean, by the time I hit 13 years old I got tired of getting beaten up—I decided to join a gang ‘cause when you’re in a gang you have protection. Nobody is gonna screw around with you because they know there’ll be retribution. But then again, you’re in a situation that you’re with these guys who are giving you a phone call saying, “We gotta rumble tonight,” just like West Side Story, meeting in a schoolyard with chains and knives. Or someone in the gang might say, “We’re gonna rob a warehouse tonight.” It was all this crazy stuff and I was going, “What am I getting involved in?” Like I said in my book, No Regrets, thank God I had my guitar playing skills. At the same time I was trying to get away from the gang, I was playing in bands so I could use that as an excuse on the weekends when the gang was going out to do something. I said, “I can’t, I have a gig.” That’s pretty much how I got out of being in a gang."


Goldmine's November 2018 Ace Frehley cover story.

Goldmine's November 2018 Ace Frehley cover story.