52 guitarists, week 1—Ace Frehley

Another year and another weekly blog post commitment from me. For those who have been on this journey with me before—thank you by the way—you have witnessed my wishlists of 52 guitars, 52 amplifiers and 52 pedals. This year I’m trying something different—52 guitarists.

It’s safe to assume therefore that this is also not a wishlist like previous years.

Also, this series is not a top 52 guitarists list. There is no ranking system here. What I will be doing however is writing about 52 guitarists who have been influential to me personally. By the end of this list, there will be many guitarists who would normally feature in a top 10 or top 100 guitarists list. Once again though, this is not that list. This is personal. These are the guitarists who either influenced me enough to start playing guitar or to continue playing guitar decades later. For me, this list needs to therefore start at the beginning. It starts with the guitarist who made me realise that guitar-focused music was going to be my passion.

My list has to start with Ace Frehley.

When I was 10 years old, KISS released Unmasked. That album—and the marketing machine that promoted the album and band so incredibly well—blew my mind.

Blew. My. Mind.

I had never been affected my a band or music like I was by KISS. I remember going to my cousin’s house to listen to his KISS albums. Plural. He was older than me and he also had Dynasty and Love Gun.

Dynasty was where it was at for me. Dynasty produced this …

The constant chugging of the guitar in that song and the short but sweet guitar solo drew me in like you would not believe. KISS was not only my introduction to guitar, but it was my introduction to heavy music. My parents listened to a lot of country music and I still have an appreciation for a lot of that music today. But once I saw Ace Frehley playing his Gibson Les Paul guitar I knew this was the music for me.

Of course it was also Ace Frehley who showed me just how cool playing guitar could be. He didn’t just play guitar, he was an absolute showman. He was also the first guitarist I’d seen that had his own tricks.

The back and forth switching from the neck and bridge pickup—one with volume on and one with volume off—is still one of my favourite things to do on the guitar today. And of course nothing says guitar showmanship like a smoking and flaming pickup.

Ace Frehley set my guitar aspirations alight like they were one of his pyrotechnic pickups. Ace Frehley made me want to be a guitar player. Nothing has changed over thirty years later. I couldn’t be happier about that.

This is not a top guitarists list and there is no significance in the order the guitarists are placed in the list. This is simply a collection of guitarists that have been influential to me.

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