Bruce Kulick Admits Expecting An Offer From Gene Simmons And Paul Stanley To Replace Ace Frehley
KISS is kind of famous for its line-up changes since the lead guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss have had an on-and-off relationship with the band. Various musicians were recruited to replace them during those ‘off periods,’ and guitarist Bruce Kulick had a run with the act for a decade. The musician recently discussed his time with KISS while speaking to EonMusic and addressed Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley‘s decision to hire Tommy Thayer to replace Ace Frehley.
During his run with the cult band, Kulick never got to wear the iconic makeup of the classic line-up. He also left the band when KISS reunited with Frehley, who departed once again in 2002. Then, the band decided to recruit Tommy Thayer instead of bringing Kulick back. The guitarist was recently asked if any of those facts, from never wearing stage makeup to the fact that Thayer replaced him, disappointed him in any way.
Kulick answered that this was a frequently asked question since many fans wondered why he wasn’t the band’s first choice. Bruce disclosed that he had heard rumors from the people close to KISS that Frehley was causing problems. These rumors led him to wonder if he would be recruited to the band again and if the act would ask him to embrace Spaceman’s persona on stage. If so, Kulick would have to negate each quality from his era since he would imitate Ace by ‘shooting rockets from his guitar.’
Bruce explained that imitating Frehley or playing the guitar like him was something he never had to do. Since Kulick would be on stage with his own style, the guitarist stated that he understood KISS’ decision to recruit Thayer since they needed someone to replace Ace. KISS’ on-stage personas and makeup were a significant part of their brand, and Thayer was the better choice in that regard.
Bruce Kulick revealed if he was disappointed that the band didn’t invite him back:
“That’s a great question a lot of fans ask, and they’re a little confused about it, like, why wasn’t it me? When I knew that Ace was causing problems for them, I heard the rumblings from people I knew that were close to the band, and I was always wondering, like, would they really ask me to become the Spaceman, but basically negating everything from my era.
I would then have to shoot rockets from my guitar. I would then be playing Ace, maybe more note-for-note, something I never had to do. And I really think they made the right choice, knowing what they were trying to do, which was just trying to sell the characters and the makeup version of the band. By going with Tommy, it was no harm, no foul.”
The guitarist also addressed the fact that Eric Singer was recruited once again when Peter Criss departed. Bruce disclosed that it was more natural for Eric to replace Peter’s image. The fact that the drummer sang also encouraged KISS to bring him back. Bruce noted that imitating Spaceman would be awkward for him since he had always been himself during his time with the band.
The musician addressed Singer’s recruitment and why it would stain his image if he imitated Frehley:
“I think with Eric Singer, it was much more natural behind the kit. And Eric sings really well, which helps out because Peter sang. So, it was the right choice for them because that was something very much appropriate for the non-make-up years. Me becoming the Spaceman, I think, would have been very awkward for me. I think it would have almost stained my era.”
It’s apparent from Kulick’s answers that neither Gene Simmons nor Paul Stanley asked the guitarist to ‘imitate’ or ‘replace’ Ace Frehley or his on-stage persona, Spaceman. Two of KISS’s strong suits have always been their stage shows and signature makeup. So, when the band looked for someone to embrace Spaceman and replace Frehley, they believed Kulick wasn’t the right choice.