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Gene Simmons says Ace Frehley lacks “physical stamina” to play a full Kiss show on the End of the Road tour

Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for A&E; Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)

Kiss bassist and frontman Gene Simmons has left an open invitation to Ace Frehley to play the encores during the band’s epic End of the Road world tour, but argues that Frehley lacks the “physical stamina” to play a full show.

The God of Thunder claims Frehley stipulated that he would only return on the condition he'd replace Tommy Thayer as full-time guitarist, resuming his Spaceman persona and, presumably, rigging his electric guitar with a range of wild pyrotechnics.

However a full-time return, explains Simmons, is not on the table: “I asked Ace and Peter [Criss, co-founder and former drummer], ‘Come out on tour. We’ll get you your own room and everything, come out on the encores.’ 

“Ace said, ‘No, the only way I come out is if I am the Spaceman and you asked Tommy to leave.’ Well, that’s not going to happen. First of all, I care about Ace, but he is not in shape. He can’t play that way and doesn’t have the physical stamina to do that.”

The interview with Chaoszine (opens in new tab) sees Simmons speak about the End of the Road world tour – to which 100 dates have just been added – and the demands it asks of the band to fulfill its grueling schedule. He says the trek is making Olympians of the hard rock institution.

“The band is strong,” Simmons says. “We feel good. We’re playing strong. So we are going to stretch it out a little more. But once we stop, of course, it will be like in the Olympics, when you win a race, sometimes they just fall to the ground exhausted because of the physical demands of the race. Even though you are dead tired, you feel exhilarated.”

While the touring lifestyle is not for everybody, having the enthusiasm and energy of Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums is one of the reasons why Kiss can sustain it, Simmons explains.

“Tommy and Eric are the best things that happened to us,” Simmons says. “They gave us new life, new appreciation for what we do because they were fans first, and every once in a while, Eric or Tommy will turn around and say, ‘Wow! Isn’t this great?’ And it makes us realize, ‘Yeah! Wow! Isn’t this great!?’”

Simmons describes Kiss as a fan-owned business. “The fans are the bosses; we just work here,” he says. “Without the fans, we’re nothing.”

Although he recognizes the fans’ appetite to see a cameo from Frehley and Criss, he sounds philosophical about the reality of that happening, admitting that Frehley and Criss are an indelible part of Kiss history, but lacked the staying power.

Tommy and Eric are the best things that happened to us. They gave us new life, new appreciation for what we do

“We care about them,” he explains. “We started this thing together and they were equally important to the beginning of the band with Paul and I. No question. But as time went on, not everybody is designed to run a marathon. 

“Some people are designed to be in a band for a year or two, a few years, and that’s all they can do. So, the answer is, the door is always open. If they want to jump onstage at any time and do the encores with us? Terrific. But, no, we are not going to get rid of Tommy or Eric.”

Kiss will take to the stage tonight (June 30) in France, before playing Rock Fest in Barcelona, Spain, on July 2. See Kiss's website (opens in new tab) for a full list of dates.

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Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.