Author: Bill Baker
Title: “Ace Frehley: The Ultimate Fan Scrapbook”
Publisher: Tunis Media LLC
Release Date: 10/31/2008
Genre: Hard Rock History
If you are a KISS fan, and I know that many of you who are reading this article are, you know that collecting KISS memorabilia and trinkets almost goes hand in hand with ones enjoyment of the music that they do. When you love KISS, it seems as though you find yourself buying a poster or t-shirt as almost a secondary nature type of thing and over the years you come to own quite the stash related to these colorful characters of Rock and Roll. Some fans are more intense about it than others and not only seek to own the best stuff possible, but also those who manage to get the things which are often considered the Holy Grail of the bands history. There are even those fans that opt to focus their attentions on one particular member of the group and maintain collections of everything and anything related to that player. One such individual is musician/author Billy Baker who chose Ace Frehley as his collecting inspiration and over the years managed to amass a collection that can easily be considered the envy of any fan of the masked foursomes “Space Ace”. As a collector, the author could have easily loaded up a semi-truck and rolled around town to Rock shows displaying a veritable Ace Frehley and KISS museum, but instead he decided that the best way to document and share his collection with the world would be by presenting this volume entitled “Ace Frehley: The Ultimate Fan Scrapbook”. This type of item is often referred to as a “vanity press” but don’t let the title fool you for it is merely the phrase that was coined for a book that is almost entirely done at the author’s expense with little or no support from a major publishing house. With this being the case you know that the author was passionate enough about the subject matter in order for him to lay out so much cash putting it together for the larger public to enjoy. So join me now as we open the pages on this beautiful and well thought out book. KISS fans, start your engines.
Our journey into Baker’s extensive collection begins with a healthy amount of history on his own musical interests and how he ended up becoming a fan of KISS and then eventually would focus his energies on Ace Frehley. As a musician performing locally in the area of New Jersey where he grew up we even are treated to a couple of tales about the bands he performed in. This might not interest all readers but when it ends with him forming the only known Ace Frehley tribute act “Fractured Mirror” this information proves as quite relevant. He documents how circumstances and fate led him to not only meet the KISS guitarist but how over time the pair developed a friendship that had quite a strong bond as well. Baker was an accomplished guitar repair technician and during the course of their friendship Ace would come to him for work that his gear needed and often he would be rewarded with extra trinkets for his collection. There are times where we learn more details of how Baker even would handle Ace’s media affairs from time to time and assist with keeping fans at bay if such actions were necessary. There are about sixteen or so pages of history to go through before we get to the meat of the book which is the photos and sadly the commentary ends with how the friendship with Ace did not last more than the five years being documented. Last year a movie entitled “KISS Loves You” was released and this addressed just how passionate a lot of the KISS fans are and interestingly enough Baker was one of the people being featured in the film. The film is a tasteful look at how devoted the bands fans have been over the years and it does not paint them in negative light. As result I can safely say that this is something that you should look into at least renting for reference sake. In Baker’s case, the film documents the time after the friendship with Frehley and as the book notes in slightly greater detail it would seem that all the bonds that had formed and ties that bound found themselves severing when Ace would rejoin the original KISS lineup for their “Unplugged” appearance in 1995. He doesn’t get much more into it than that and leaves the reader wondering what could have happened and yet despite this he closes the text with the very true statement that our idols are often best kept at arms length. I like this stand myself as it keeps them as idols and people we don’t let too close for fear of disappointment. I am pretty sure that a good percentage of the KISS fans who purchase this book will bypass the historical stuff but I do recommend that they read it because it makes the photos that fill the remaining 105 pages all the more interesting.
The photos collected are really something to speak highly of as we get an inside peek at someone’s private stash for their most cherished hobby and that is not something we get to do every day. Of course I am sure that some of you have friends who have rooms in their house that they have been “allowed” to devote to their hobbies by their significant other, but seldom would you expect to find the level of cool things that Baker had amassed courtesy of this friendship. We find photos of costume pieces and actual guitars along with hand-written set lists and personal notes to Baker or others all signed by Frehley. There are a ton of candid photos of the musicians hanging out together and even a score of images of a very young Ace performing with KISS in their infancy. I loved these the most because for me it brought back memories of their original power and soon to be juggernaut level of impact on the modern music scene of the day. Perhaps they will do the same for you, or perhaps they shall inspire other memories. Since Ace was no longer a member of KISS during the time of this friendship we have a score of amazing shots of Ace performing with Frehley’s Comet and it is very likely that most of them have never been seen before anywhere. Shots of the musician warming up backstage and interacting with other fans at the conventions all brought together make this a very well laid out piece of history. I have to instruct the reader to take their time enjoying these photos and advise them to not allow their mass number to create envy or jealously in their own hearts but instead perhaps have them help to serve as a guide in building their own collections up with a little more zeal and intensity. Baker notes at how when he began his own efforts of collecting that the luxury of online auctions was non-existent and now thanks to outlets like E-Bay and more the dedicated fan can find almost everything if they are willing to place a dollar amount on it. I have to say that I enjoyed being able to dig deep into this volume and feel that many Ace Frehley acolytes will enjoy what’s inside its binding even if it does make them bite their lip a little bit. Of course the KISS army in general would be well-served by this tome because it could very likely set off the spark that inspires another writer to offer up a Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley Ultimate Collector’s Fan Book for the world to enjoy. Fans who find this interesting are best instructed to order a copy soon as I am told that only 2000 copies were printed and while there could eventually be more pressed one never knows in the case of one of these self-publications so don’t miss out. It can be ordered via the website link provided.
Update: When I received my copy of the book an email from the author arrived at almost the same time and it informed me about Ace Frehley having appeared at the 2008 Chiller Convention in New Jersey. Baker was also in attendance and was able to meet with Ace and present him a copy of this book and find it very well received. Only the future will tell if the friendship of that time would begin again but that is for a different book altogether and for the time being closes this particular chapter out with a happy ending.
Official Website: http://www.acefrehleyscrapbook.com