By Phin Upham
Ace Frehley is the 14th greatest metal guitarist of all time, according to Guitar World Magazine. He is known for his screaming solos that incorporate a minor pentatonic scale and use vibratos. Ace is also one of the members of KISS, where he developed a penchant for “whimsical” guitars. These guitars, like the Gibson Les Paul that emitted smoke, were basically like gags that went on in every show. Some produced spinning pyrotechnics, others shone light based on the pacing of the songs he was playing. Ever the showman, Ace’s life began in the humble neighborhood of The Bronx.
Being a poor kid, Frehley joined the Ducky Boys street gang. Also called “The Boogeymen of The Bronx”, few people had ever seen the Ducky Boys in action even though word of their actions got around. Had Frehley never found the guitar, he might have ended up in that gang or dead on some street corner. He was a guitarist from a young age. He listened to all the greats: Jimmi Hendrix, Albert Lee, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Led Zeppelin and The Who just to name some of his influences.
Frehley began seeing some musical success with his band “Cathedral”, which played paying gigs. He dropped out of high school to pursue music full time, but his family encouraged him to return and earn a degree. After school, Frehley held part time jobs and tried out for various bands. It so happens that he showed up to 10 East 23rd Street in late 1972 to audition for Wicked Lester. The band would change its name to KISS soon after, embarking on a legendary journey through rock and roll.
Frehley has also been a successful solo artist, with a recent album release in 2014.
About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.