Published December 13 2023 at 12:23
Today, December 12th, marks the 47th anniversary of one of the most colourful moments in KISSTORY, that time when guitarist Ace Frehley got electrocuted on stage.
At the end of 1976, KISS were touring their 5th studio album 'Rock And Roll Over' with Uriah Heep as their opening band.
On December 12th, 2 weeks into the tour, they arrived in Lakeland, Florida. They were scheduled to play the Civic Center and it was yet another sell-out on this hugely successful tour.
The band's opening song for that tour was "Detroit Rock City". The band had a spectacular entrance, where they would appear on a metal landing above each side of the drums and walk down stair constructions onto center stage amid volumes of smoke and fire.
Guitarists Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley usually appeared on the stage's left side, with bass player Gene Simmons taking the ramp on stage right. Paul would usually rush down the flight of stairs confidently and quickly, leaving Ace to take his time.
Ace Frehley is well known for having poor balance at the best of times - and when Ace reached for the handrail to assist in the descent, he unwittingly completed an electrical circuit with his body and/or guitar. Sparks flew as this potentially lethal situation led him to get electrocuted. His hand was locked to the railing for several seconds, but as luck would have it, it shook loose after a short while.
At that point, Ace fell off the platform to the ground a few meters below - a bad enough fall in itself as well. The platform was next to Peter Criss' drum set, and drum tech Chuck Elias was well positioned to see what was happening. "It happened very fast," he later said, "right at the beginning of the show and basically right above my head. Ace was standing on top of the stairs. I saw him grabbing the rail and not being able to move, and then eventually hitting the ground. We were up there instantly, but he was stunned more than anything else, which was lucky because it could have been life-threatening."
He was helped backstage by members of the crew and found himself, dazed, sitting there for about 10 minutes listening to the crowd chanting his name over and over:
"We want Ace! We want Ace!"
When he finally, bravely, returned to the stage they gave him a standing ovation and KISS managed to finish the show.
Watch a mini-documentary on the 'Shock Me'¨incident here: