1979 Ace Frehley – New York Groove
Ross Ballard was born in Hertfordshire, England in 1945 and began playing guitar in the band Buster Meikle & The Day Breakers in 1961. He did a stint with Unit 4+2 and then joined Argent as their lead singer. While with the band, he wrote the song Liar, which became a top ten hit for Three Dog Night in 1971.
Ross left Argent and put his focus on songwriting. In 1975, the British band Hello recorded another song Ross wrote, New York Groove. The single reached the top ten in the UK, but failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.
Paul Daniel Frehley grew up in the Bronx, in a family that included two siblings who studied classical guitar. He got an electric guitar as a Christmas present in 1964 and proceeded to teach himself to play the instrument without taking any lessons. This may explain the unusual way he plays the guitar! Friends in high school commented that he was a real Ace at getting dates, and the nickname stuck.
Ace answered an ad and attended an audition as a guitar player for a new band in 1972. Peter Criss, Gene Simmons, and Paul Stanley chose Ace as their new lead guitar player, and the band Kiss was born. When they started wearing makeup, Ace drew stars around his eyes and began appearing as Space Ace. That nickname later became Spaceman. The band released their first album in 1974, and quickly became a popular metal band.
In 1978, each of the four current members of Kiss recorded their own solo album. Although Ace wrote several of the songs on his own album, it was a cover of Hello’s New York Groove that became a hit. The single peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 in early 1979.
Kiss released a new studio album in 1979, but it was markedly different from the albums that came before. Peter Criss’ hands had been injured in a car wreck the prior year, so he only played drums on one song. Several of Ace’s songs did not have contributions from any of the other members of the group other than some backup vocals from Paul. The album did not have all four members performing together on any of the songs.
Ace left the group and later rejoined Kiss a few times. The band has already had several “final” tours and performances together, including the current final tour that they plan to restart again this Summer after a break brought on by the pandemic.
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