Dimebag Darrell: Rock Soldiers
Kiss Army Kaptains Snake Sabo & Dimebag Darrell come face to face with Ace Frehley, the man who gave meaning to their lives— and learn the truth about his shocking past.
Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell and Skid Row’s Snake Sabo, eyeing each other with great suspicion, are ready for the great competition. No, they aren’t trying to outshred each other in a sweaty all-night jam. Rather, they’re trying to see who will emerge champion in a two-man Ace Frehley look-alike contest.
Armed with jars of clown white, Stein’s liquid silver and assorted other powders and creams, the duo work like demons to replicate the distinctive Kabuki makeup of their favorite guitarist, ex-Kiss member Ace Frehley. The stakes are very high, especially since the man who is to judge the results will be none other than their hero, Ace—in the flesh.
Darrell, who has the advantage of having painted his face numerous times in his formative years, mercilessly heckles Sabo, who appears to be having trouble with some runny mascara. Sabo responds by telling the Pantera guitarist where he can stick his red, billy-goat beard. Both cackle like madmen. Soon they are done: both Dimebag and Snake have eerily transformed themselves into perfect copies of Ace, circa Alive!, 1975. “It’s a tie,” Frehley whispers, a bit stunned.
There is obviously, something strange about two successful young musicians participating in such a bizarre event. The truth is, Sabo and Darrell are simply engaging in hero-worship rites of the most powerful sort. One of the greatest rock and roll secrets of the last two decades is the prevailing influence of Kiss, and particularly Ace Frehley, on a whole generation of young musicians who grew up in the Seventies. Like the Beatles in the early Sixties, Kiss introduced rock and roll to millions of embryonic headbangers who were hypnotized by their cartoon personas, chunky hard sound and outrageous stage show. Among these were the young Snake and Darrell.
“Kiss was my first rock experience,” says Sabo. “They made me want to play guitar. In fact, I used to get into fights with kids at school who thought Ace wasn’t as good as Jimmy Page. I’d fight for his honor.”
As for Darrell, his obsession with the Kiss guitarist is so extreme that last year he had an image of Ace tattooed on his chest. “Before the day is through, I’m gonna have Ace sign his name on my chest next to his picture,” he vows. “And when I fly home to Texas tonight, I’m gonna head straight to the tattoo parlor and have them ink it in permanently!” (See photos, page 28.)
Frehley is somewhat humbled by Snake and Darrell’s hot adulation: “To tell you the truth, I never realized the effect Kiss had until long after I left the band,” admits Ace. “Ten years later I had kids coming up to me, telling me that Alive! and Alive II were their rock and roll bibles—and that flipped me out. I never thought about that stuff while I was in the band, and I was really surprised by it later.”
At the end of a lengthy photo session— during which the three Aces brandish Les Pauls equipped with smoke bombs—the trio seat themselves, and prepare to engage in a lengthy discussion of Ace’s stormy Kisstory. But first, Ace must autograph Darrell and Snake’s guitars, tennis shoes, posters…
DAVE “THE SNAKE” SABO How old were you when you joined Kiss?
ACE FREHLEY 23.