“We think you’d be perfect for Kiss – would you consider playing a Les Paul?”: Vito Bratta recalls the time Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons suggested he should replace Ace Frehley in Kiss
“When they asked me about playing a Les Paul, I immediately knew I wasn’t into it.”
Image: Paul Natkin / Getty
The guitarist has remained mostly off the radar for the last 30 years, and has formerly cited a wrist injury and the fact he took care of his ill father as reasons for stepping away from the limelight.
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In a new interview with Guitar World, he explores some of the other avenues his music career nearly went down, including an opportunity to tour with Ozzy Osbourne’s solo band, and the time he turned down an offer to replace Frehley in Kiss.
Frehley departed in 1982 and it was Vinnie Vincent who, of course, took his place eventually. But before that, Bratta was also considered as a possible candidate.
“Ozzy was tough because I felt like that was my shot – they actually called me and wanted me to audition. And I had the upper hand… I think I woulda got it because I had the chops, the dark hair, and the sound they were looking for.
“But that wasn’t the only opportunity I had – I have to tell you about the Kiss thing that happened after Ace Frehley left the band,” he begins. “My cover band had two guitar players. There was another guy named Ace and me. He had the Ace Frehley hair and did the whole pentatonic thing. He was nothing like me [laughs].
“But he did go out to California to audition when Ace [Frehley] left Kiss. And they must have liked him because when he came back to New York, Paul and Gene showed up at the clubs we were playing to see him live.”
He goes on to explain, “Long story short, I stole the show. I get off stage, and Paul and Gene want to talk to me. They think I’d be ‘perfect for Kiss,’ probably because I was doing all this modern stuff they’d been missing. I was doing the tapping, and all that, which they liked. So, they said, ‘Hey, we like you. We think you’d be perfect for Kiss. Would you consider playing a Les Paul?’”
“When they asked me about playing a Les Paul, I immediately knew I wasn’t into it,” Bratta says. “I just couldn’t picture it, you know? But I was maybe willing to go along with it because I had started with a Les Paul. And then, after asking me my name, they said, ‘Your name is too ethnic; would you ever consider changing it?’ And I just said, ‘Would you ever consider fucking yourself?’ I was not going to change my name.”
Kiss are continuing their final tour. Find out more via their website.