Call it a mini Kiss reunion in Wynwood as Gene Simmons, flogging his $2,000 boxed set “The Vault,” did an in-store at Walt Grace Vintage, a cars and guitars gallery, with Ace Frehley, his former band mate.
Like a divorced couple sharing old stories of their high profile marriage, the duo kept an audience — which included Barry Gibb’s musician son Stephen Gibb — rapt during a freewheeling Q&A session that touched on their time together in Kiss.
The pair, sitting in front of a wall of guitars that collector Frehley coveted, also strummed acoustic guitars. This led Simmons to quip how difficult it was to play a vintage tune like Kiss’ “She” unplugged.
The event, part of Simmons’ Vault Experience World Tour, was held on Jan. 27 to give fans who bought the Kiss bassist’s 50-year time capsule of 150 unreleased demos and memorabilia, a chance to meet and greet the 68-year-old rocker.
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But fans were surprised to see special guest Ace Frehley, Kiss’ original lead guitarist, sitting on a stool in tongue distance from Simmons — not that close, actually, given the size of Simmons’ famed tongue. But close enough to excite people who don’t expect to see Frehley on the same stage with Simmons given their tumultuous history.
Frehley, 66, hasn’t toured with Kiss since 2001. But there he was at the music store at 2450 NW Second Ave., in Miami, with Simmons — with whom he formed the hard rock band Kiss in late 1972 in New York City.
“Simmons and Frehley grabbed a couple of acoustic guitars and sat for the gathered fans, sharing anecdotes and songs like an old divorced couple realizing that things really weren’t so bad,” reported Anti Music. Nearly an hour of the appearance is posted on YouTube.
There have been rapprochements with Simmons, and even with fellow founding Kiss guitarist-singer Paul Stanley, though. Stanley guest sang on Frehley’s 2016 covers album, “Origins, Vol. 1,” on a remake of Free’s “Fire and Water.”
The thaw has led fans to hope for yet another Kiss reunion, something no one is promising.
But before this Miami pairing, Simmons had contributed two songs to Frehley’s upcoming solo album.
“He saw me come play and we kind of started talking and then I shot him an email. That’s how things work,” Frehley told the Miami Herald in July 2017, before his concert date at Hard Rock Live. As to a reunion, he said at the time, “I guess it’s a possibility. It could be very special if it was handled correctly.”
In September 2017, Simmons and Frehley also reunited for The Children Matter: Houston Benefit Concert at CHS Field in St. Paul, Minnesota. The show was their first public appearance together since Kiss was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.
At the “Vault” event at Walt Grace, both Simmons and Frehley said they had reached out to Peter Criss, Kiss’ erstwhile drummer, about doing some meet-and-greet appearances together, but neither had successfully gotten beyond his wife/manager Gigi Criss.
For now, Kiss fans had a taste in Miami, where Simmons and Frehley swapped tales of shared groupies on the 1980 Kiss Australia tour, the coming 40th anniversary this fall of the four Kiss solo albums — Frehley’s sold the best, he said, without raising numbers-cruncher Simmons’ ire.
That self-titled 1978 “Ace Frehley” set paved the way for Frehley’s first exit from the band a few years later, he said, as it made him realize he could be creative outside the Kiss camp.
Simmons also told an amusing tale about the first time he met one of his biggest fans — a not-yet-6-year-old Stephen Gibb, “who had a shrine to Kiss” in his bedroom at his Miami Beach home. The two met when Simmons visited the Gibb family home in Miami Beach during Kiss’ Dynasty Tour stop at the old Hollywood Sportatorium.
As Simmons left the Gibb home on North Bay Road, he recalled Barry Gibb, then pop music’s biggest songwriter thanks to the “Saturday Night Fever” and “Spirits Having Flown” albums, pulling him aside at the doorway and saying, “Tell Stephen his dad is pretty cool, too.”
What’s next for Kiss?
Stanley, 66, will exhibit his artwork Friday, Feb. 9, at Wentworth Gallery in Fort Lauderdale, and Saturday, Feb. 10, at Wentworth Gallery in Boca Raton. The galleries will showcase Stanley’s collection of original portraits, mixed-media originals, print artworks and acrylic guitar sculptures.
Also, how about the KISS Kruise VIII on the Norwegian Jade, which sails out of Miami to Key West and Nassau on Oct. 31, 2018.
If you go
What: Paul Stanley of Kiss exhibits his artwork
Where: Wentworth Gallery, 819 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 9; and Wentworth Gallery, 6000 Glades Rd., Boca Raton, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10
Information: Call 954-468-0685 for Fort Lauderdale exhibit; 561-338-0804 for Boca Town Center exhibit