For founding KISS guitarist Ace Frehley it feels like his new tell-all book No Regrets is more of a personal purge of his KISStory rather than a commercial enterprise. No Regrets is Frehley’s first book, but not the first ever written about KISS. His tale follows several official band biographies, a huge coffee table book and two books by bassist Gene Simmons.
In his popular books, Simmons leisurely attacks Frehley throughout with belittling comments and downplayed his (and drummer Peter Criss’) role in the history of the band. No Regrets is Frehley’s comeback to the jibs and jabs he’s received from Simmons over the years. With that being said, No Regrets is not used as an attack machine against Simmons, although it has some moments that might seem otherwise. Instead, it tells Frehley’s story from the beginning to just after the release and tour of his last album Anomaly.
Concentrating more than half the book on pre-1976 moments, we go through Frehley’s early years, his early bands and his famous audition with KISS. With the second half of the book, it’s easy to see that the memories were lost in booze and drugs as the stories got a bit shorter and concentrated more on the mishaps caused by the booze and drugs rather than the music.
No Regrets is more a book for the fans than it is a book for the masses. With tales from the golden years of KISS, Frehley sheds a new light on some of the classic tales, clarifying the details as he remembers them. His accounts of his 1972 audition and the recording sessions for the original demo tape and all the albums up to Destroyer are exciting. Aside from a good account of his KISS solo album and the infamous KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park movie shoot, most of the other albums and tours are modestly mentioned. There’s also not as much about Frehley’s Comet as one might have liked.
Disappointingly, there is very little about late KISS drummer Eric Carr, who replaced Peter Criss in 1980 and even less about The Elder and his involvement/departure surrounding Creatures of The Night. His thoughts about Carr take up about one page and how Frehley compared him to Peter Criss by his lack of drug/alcohol use (which is mistakenly mentioned as a 1980 tour of Canada in the book, but is actually a European tour). The more interesting moments in the book involve Simmons, whose rendezvous with women led to crabs, and ego and the eventual isolation from Frehley.
In the end, Frehley just wanted to play music. Instead, he was a prisoner of the KISS marketing machine with its Las Vegas styled concerts, flashy costumes and larger than life characters. KISS, to him, was more about the image than the music and to a guitar player who prides himself on his playing and songwriting, the easiest way out was the booze and drugs.
It would have been better a read had there been better accounts of all the tours, albums and his solo years both in the studio and on the road. It feels like something is severely missing when only a few pages cover Rock and Rol Over to his KISS solo album. There were a few albums and tours — and JAPAN — in that time span that should have been told in better detail. All of this happened while the band was considered the biggest band in the world!
When compared to other music biographies, No Regrets is a bit more straight forward than most. It goes directly to the point and moves on to the next story quickly. But Frehley has always been a straight shooter, making his point and moving on.
At the time of writing No Regrets, Frehley was alcohol and drug free and purging himself of KISS. As the title says, he has no regrets, but he also wants to move on. For Frehley, No Regrets is most likely his last hurrah in his life as a member of one of the most popular bands in the world and the start of his new life away from that "band" he used to be in.