Ace Frehley Asked Gene Simmons’ Permission To Hire His Guitarist, Ryan Cook Recalls
Guitarist Ryan Spencer Cook was lucky enough to share the same stage with the two prominent musicians, Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley, in their backing band. While Simmons was touring solo, Frehley was impressed with Cook’s performance and invited his band to perform with him. Ryan talked about how he ended up joining Simmons and then Frehley in a new chat with Andrew Daly from VWMusic.
“I unknowingly got Gene’s attention on the first KISS Kruise,” recalled Cook, sharing how he impressed Simmons for the first time. “I was performing on said Kruise with my band Big Rock Show. We became wildly popular with the KISS Kruise fan base, and we would eventually perform on the first eight KISS Kruises. Each year, Gene would catch at least one or two of our shows.”
Regarding how Gene Simmons approached him to be his backing band, Ryan said, “When he finally entertained the idea of doing a solo show, he contacted me to put together a band for him. It was a perfect fit because I know the KISS body of work so well. It’s almost like second nature, like breathing. Knowing the song catalog so well meant we would be speaking the same musical language, always.”
“It was a corporate event in Vancouver, Canada, where we performed in a lavish hotel ballroom,” he continued, referring to his first gig with Simmons. “Gene was still figuring out what he wanted to do musically, so the setlist wasn’t exactly what a KISS fan might expect. Along with the KISS classics, we were also doing songs by Wilson Pickett, Roy Head, and the Beatles. He was definitely stretching his musical legs.”
Following his successful stage shows with Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley also wanted Cook to back him up, but he first asked for Gene’s permission. “We were asked to tour Australia, and the promoter asked Ace to open the show. Rather than bringing his own band, Ace asked Gene if we could be his backing band as well. Gene gave the green light, and we were on board.”
He continued by talking about how much he enjoyed working with two names and said, “We would start the night performing with Ace, take a break, change clothes, and then go out a do another set with Gene. It was really a lot of fun for us, performing with two of KISS’ founding members each night. Gene knew that the Gene Simmons Band would go on hiatus as he had to return to KISS for the End Of The Road Tour. He suggested to Ace that we become his band. Bam!”
Even though Gene Simmons didn’t perform outside KISS for a long time, he decided to hit the road solo by putting together a backing band in 2016. Hiring Ryan Cook as the guitarist, the bassist toured North America and Australia. After catching Ace Frehley’s attention, Cook also had the opportunity to perform with him. Gene surprisingly permitted Frehley to hire Cook despite the guitarist’s tumultuous separation from KISS.