The Real Reason Ace Frehley Left KISS In The '80s

KISS has, like other bands, endured some lineup changes over the years. When they first started getting big in the early-middle 1970s, they consisted of Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss. Indeed, many of KISS' face-melting riffs can be credited to Frehley, whose fingers caressed the strings while inches away, fire was shooting out of his instrument. Interestingly, Frehley never actually learned to play guitar, instead teaching himself. "I'm an anomaly, I'm an un-schooled musician, I don't know how to read music, but I'm one of the most famous guitar players in the world, so go figure," he told Rock & Roll Experience in 2009.

However, in the early 1980s, the band changed direction, ditching their makeup and experimenting with their sound. The unmasked era also brought some lineup changes, as Criss had left the group in 1980 (to be replaced by Eric Carr), and Frehley left in 1982. Both would later rejoin the group, and once again don the makeup, in the 1990s after having some time to think things over, before re-retiring a while later.

Ace Frehley left KISS because he wanted to take it easy

By the early 1980s, KISS was riding high on its wave of popularity, and Ace Frehley had made all the money. At that time, as he told Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon, via Ultimate Guitar, that he wanted to enjoy life when he could. The rest of the group wanted to tour, tour, and then tour some more, while Frehley wanted a break. "I wanted to drive my sports cars and hang out with my friends in between. [The other guys in the band] were workaholics, and I wanted to go to Studio 54 and enjoy my stardom," he said.

There were deeper considerations, too. Frehley had concerns about Simmons over-merchandising the band. What's more, there were the oft-cited "creative differences." Specifically, the guitarist's solo project, Frehley's Comet, was doing well, and to Ace, this meant that the writing was on the wall, and it was time to call it quits. "Go ahead, I'm out of here," he told his former bandmates.