Being a diehard KISS fan, it was only going to be a matter of time before I read this book. Boldly titled 'No Regrets', it seeks to tell the tale of this kid from the Bronx who had a rollercoaster ride in the Hottest Band in the World and lived to tell the tale.
Unfortunately, the book falls short in several ways which is a great shame as Ace has undeniably lived an interesting life.
To start with the positives: The book goes into nice detail about his early life, giving us the flavour and tales that we haven't heard a million times before. This makes the early chapters very interesting indeed but it has to be said, this tale could have come from many musicians or famous people with a classic rags to riches tale. It is a good read but nothing to blow you out of the water at this point.
The book continues in fine style throughout his first spell in KISS (1972-1982) and tells some interesting tales about the early days which are told from the 'other' (i.e. not Paul and Gene's) point of view. Again, this makes for excellent reading and keeps you turning the pages.
The tales of excess are pretty interesting and sometimes leaves you wondering how on Earth Ace is still alive. But then again, other rock stars drugged and drank their careers away and lived to tell the tale and while Ace's is very interesting it is by no means exceptional.
By this point I was most of the way through the book and thoroughly enjoying it. Had it stopped here I would likely have given the book an extra star or maybe two. However, Ace's book, like his career, took a severe turn for the worse when he left KISS. I was surprised to see so little light shed on his departure from KISS in 1982. We have heard Paul and Gene's point of view many times and hearing Ace tell it from his side would have been great but he does not devote much time to this and hardly tells us a thing we didn't already know.
He then moves on to tell us about his solo career of more than a decade and his life during these times in all of one chapter. That's right! ONE chapter! In the space of a few pages with just a couple of stories we go from Ace leaving KISS to being on the verge of rejoining them well over a decade later. Is he seriously saying that nothing much else happened in this time?
Again, he tells of rejoining KISS and tells us the stories we already knew about his lack of involvement on the Psycho Circus album etc and one or two other stories. What is disappointing - although more so this time - is him giving so little detail about how and why he left again. He tells of a couple of bust ups but this is something I as a KISS fan wanted to know and still don't. Was it really just a case of `we had some disagreements and then I just left'? Come on Ace, there had to be more to it than that!
Ultimately this books falls short of what it could have been. Ace is clearly very bitter about KISS and Gene Simmons in particular and despite the title, I would say he has a lot of regrets. And of his book he should have plenty of them. We hear so little about his family and his friends other than about how often he got drunk and or high with them. Compared to say Gene's book where he goes into great detail about the relationship with his mother, we have so little insight into Ace's family life.
The final note on this would be that it is easy to see why Paul and Gene lost patience with him. Despite being an exceptionally talented musician he comes across as arrogant, unreliable and self-centred. Put in contrast with Gene and Paul who worked so hard to keep the band together, selling records and tickets for nearly 40 years long after their contemporaries have fallen by the wayside Ace seems like a man who still has a lot of issues.
As a KISS fan, I would always recommend this to other KISS fans because it is KISS. I buy all KISS records because I love this band as much now, pushing 30 with a wife a kid and a mortgage as I did when I was 14 worried about being bullied at school. But after reading this I hope I don't meet Ace, because I would be afraid of losing that image of the guy playing solos one handed and his guitar pouring smoke. So, read it because it's KISS and maybe like me, you'll regret that Ace couldn't focus his life or this book any better. Oh for what might have been!
So in conclusion, tales of his early life, the beginnings of KISS and the rollercoaster of the 1970s are very good but hardly exceptional. After that, it all goes downhill with Ace's life story badly lacking details and basic content and leaves so many questions unanswered. All that remains is a picture of a man quite bitter about his lot in life and unable to admit to himself. No regrets? Yeah right!
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