Saturday, October 31, 2009
10/31/94 - 15 Years Ago Today in Minneapolis, MN - Ace Frehley
(All Images & Photos via: NYCDreamin Archives)
In my last post, I asked the question, "What could be better than seeing Black Sabbath on Halloween night?" Well, I only had to wait a few years for the answer - two years later to the day, I was once again in Minneapolis, this time at the awesome (sadly, long gone) Mirage nightclub for another Halloween concert, this one featuring my all-time hero Ace Frehley. This was to be the second time I'd seen him in less than a year. Yeah, how cool was this gonna be?!? I started saving money immediately because I planned on joining the Rock Soldiers fan club at the show which would enable me to obtain a backstage pass to meet the man.
I arrived early. I mean EARLY. I had a friend drop me off at the club around 10:00am. I planned to hang out all day to see if I could get an early glimpse of the Space Man and maybe get into the sound check. No such luck. The weather was unseasonably warm and I spent the entire day hanging around outside for nothing but I didn't mind one bit. The band finally arrived in the later part of the afternoon and I was able to meet Ace's right hand man Richie Scarlet, he himself no slouch on the six-string, and drummer Steve Werner. Both of them seemd like real good guys and took time to hang with fans and sign autographs. They said Ace was not feeling well, which we've all learned in subsequent years, was code for "Ace is fucked up back at the hotel and can't be bothered."
Ace Frehley Band guitarist Richie Scarlet
Ace Frehley Band drummer Steve Werner
As the afternoon wore on and the sun began to set, the fans began to arrive. Of course at any given Ace Frehley solo concert, or at any Kiss-related event for that matter, you would have the die-hards, dressed up in makeup and costumes, but since it was Halloween, and since there was going to be a costume contest, there seemed to be more than the usual ammount of uber-fanatical Kiss-fans who came all costumed up and ready to rock. Some were good, some were great, some were just lame. Here are several photos of some of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area freaks who came out to show their love for Ace on this particular evening...
The doors to the club opened and I rushed inside and b-lined it to the merchandise booth where I promptly bought one of just about everything they had for sale. A t-shirt. An autographed poster. Some guitar pick earrings. A pack of Ace signature Gibson guitar strings. The "AceVision" video of a recent concert in Orlando, Fl. And the mother of all purchases, a $50.00 membership in the Rock Soldiers fan club. I think I was shaking as I handed the money over to the merchandise guy, knowing what my purchase would entitle me to later in the evening. For my $50.00 I received a laminated "Rock Soldiers" backstage pass and dogtag that would allow me to realize a life-long dream...
My laminated Rock Soldiers pass (above) and "dogtag" (below)...
Serial Number: 002369
Reporting for duty!
The show kicked off with two local bands, Tea-Wire (or T-Wire, or was it TEE-Wire? Whatever...who thought up that name anyway?!?) and the St. Paul Music Club. As often hapens with opening bands, I don't remember a thing about them and who cares, really? The hour was drawing near to witness the only Guitar God from another planet.
After what seemed like forever Ace and his band finally appeard on the stage and delivered a near-deafening performance of classic Kiss numbers and material from his post-Kiss solo albums as well as a few cover songs. The set list for the evening was as follows:
Detroit Rock City/Rip It Out/Shot Full of Rock/Breakout/She/Strange Ways/Foxy Lady/New York Groove/2 Young 2 Die/Richie Guitar Solo/Cold Gin/Watchin' You/Parasite/Strutter/Shout It Out Loud/Rocket Ride/Ace Solo/Deuce/Day Tripper/Communication Breakdown/I Don't Need No Doctor
Immediately after the show was over, I headed for the location where I'd been told to wait for the post-show meet and greet with Ace. It was a short line and me and this other dude were at the front of it. One of Ace's security guys came out and told us it would be about 15 minutes and that we could NOT bring cameras backstage. Bummer. But whatever, I was 15 minutes away from a meeting that I'd waited my whole life for. The minutes ticked by slowly and eventually the door to "the room" opened up and me and one Rock Soldier were allowed inside.
We walked in and found a sweat-soaked, entirely wiped-out looking Ace Frehley sitting on a chair with a towel around his neck, looking up at us and smiling and saying, "Hey guys, come on in. Nice to meet ya." Richie Scarlet was in the room with us as well but the rest of the band was nowhere to be seen. Just me, this other lucky fan, Richie, and Ace. I stammered something about how great the show was and he said thanks, and that he thought the crowd was really crazy and that they'd had a fun time playing for us. I was having a hard time thinking what to say - what DO you say to your idol, and I asked him something about the (then new) Kiss tribute album "Kiss My Ass". For some reason all the artwork where Ace's image was to appear had been chopped, blurred, or otherwise obscured. He assumed a nasty tone and look on his face and said, "Gene and Paul can kiss MY ass. Fuck them!" I laughed, but it wasn't meant to be funny, he seemed genuinely irked about it. We made some idle chit-chat for a few minutes while he signed several items that I'd brought with me, he seemed to enjoy seeing my 1978 Japanese Music Life Kiss special edition magazine...he took a few minutes to leaf through it and look at some of the photos. Soon the securty guy was at the door saying our time was up, that the next two guys were waiting to come in, so I shook Ace's hand and told him to please come back to Minneapolis soon and often. He thanked us for coming to the show and we were ushered out of the room. We were in there for about 10 minutes and it seemed like it went by in two seconds...I was having a hard time believing what had just occured...
But I did have the presence of mind to know that the band would be leaving by the back door, and since I hadn' t been allowed to bring my camera backstage with me, that might be my only chance of getting a photo or two of Ace. So I grabbed all my stuff, and headed for the back of the club. By now it was probably like 2:00am or so and it had gotten a bit chilly out. I hung around the back doors for probably another 20 minutes or so when, finally, the door opend up and I recognized Ace's tour manager poking his head out the door to make sure there wasn't a mob scene waiting for Ace as he left the club. There was just me and maybe a dozen or so other people waiting to catch a glimpse. The manager turned back and said it was OK, and all of a sudden here he comes...Ace Frehley was leaving the building. I put my camera up and snapped...
...and snapped again...
...and just as quickly as he'd appeared, Ace jumped into the front seat of this van that had been waiting for him and the driver threw it into gear and they were off...just as I managed to get one last photo:
Hard to believe it was 15 years ago already...I remember it like it was yesterdy.
Most people never get to meet their heroes. I'm one of the lucky ones I guess...I hope to one day get the chance to do it again...