Days of Lore
It all started with an e-mail with the subject line “TRACKING DOWN ACE FREHLEY” written in all caps, I guess, to signify the seriousness of this news:
MY BUDDY AND I ARE CALLING A FEW HUNDRED HOTELS TONIGHT. THIS GUY IS REALLY GOOD AT STALKING AND FINDING THE ROCKERS. ACE IS STAYING AT SEEDY PLACES LIKE “COMFORT INN” OR “DAYS INN” DURING THIS TOUR. I’LL UPDATE YOU IN THE MORNING.
My first thought was, “What a couple of morons.”
“Hmm … but this could be fun.”
My friend Mark Arnone, a longtime deejay in Chico, knew somebody who was going to perhaps get us into Ace Frehley’s inner sanctum. Both are serious KISS collectors to the point of being ridiculous.
About a month ago I reluctantly bought a ticket to see the former KISS guitarist perform in San Francisco. Ace has sobered up and he’s been touring the country with a new band playing KISS classics as well as songs from his solo projects … anybody remember Frehley’s Comet? Mmm … right.
Well it turns out that Mark’s friend—we’ll call him Dr. Love—really is good at stalking … umm … finding musicians, mostly of the aging rock star variety.
Finding Ace proved to be a difficult task, but everything came together the day of the show: Dr. Love spotted a black SUV picking up the band after the soundcheck and followed it back to The Prescott Hotel. That’s where Ace was. And that’s where Mark and I were headed.
Dr. Love has patience
The Prescott actually is pretty swanky. Rooms will run you anywhere from $200 to $500, and it’s connected to Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio Restaurant near Union Square.
Dr. Love briefed us. “Ace is in his room. He’ll probably do the rock star thing—order room service and stay put until show time.” Dr. Love had a satchel filled with a dozen or so photos of Ace and KISS, a camera and five different colored markers. “And when Ace leaves, we’ll be outside waiting.”
We were the only three people outside of hotel management who knew Ace was there. This is where we’d camp out for the next four hours—being a stalker … err … fan takes patience, young apprentices.
The bar exam
I went back to the bar to order two more $7 Anchor Steams.
I grabbed the drinks and looked toward the door to head back to the lobby, and … holy shite … Ace Frehley was walking into the restaurant. In fact he pulled up to the table right next to me and started talking to his tour manager. Nowadays the 56-year-old Frehley has wispy hair and a graying goatee. And even though he’s clean and sober, he still sort of swerves when he walks.
I sat back down. My friend Mark tore in after Ace and asked him for an autograph.
“Can I get some fucking privacy?” Ace screeched in a high-pitched Bronx accent.
YES! Ace Frehley just told my friend to fuck off!
I thought our fun was over after that little episode. No way. A true stalk … uh … fan never gives up. Over the course of the next two hours, Dr. Love waited outside. Mark and I went back to the bar. Ace was eating dinner with his assistant and the tour manager. We walked by his table no fewer than four times to “use the restroom.” I figured the only way Ace could get out was to walk by my table.
Another $7 Anchor Steam and I saw some stirring near his booth … here he comes, up the stairs, through the corridor and …
“Have a good show, Ace,” I said.
“Thanks,” he replied.
He never even looked or stopped. But that was all I needed.
Oh yeah, there was a show, too. You never want to be “that guy” who wears the band’s shirt to the show. Well, the place was crawling with a few hundred of “those guys.” But Ace and his band sounded great. It was loud. His guitar smoked. He played “Shock Me” and “New York Groove” and “Hard Times” from 1979’s Dynasty.
Mark and Dr. Love also managed to get an autograph, catching Ace as he left the hotel for the show. Dr. Love even went back after the show and got six more autographs. A couple of morons. But dammit if I didn’t have fun.
Stalk ‘n’ roll