Ex-Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley rocks Saban Theatre with Enuff Z’Nuff as support
Bonus Report: Jack Russell’s Great White at Whisky on Sunset Strip
It’s smoky and busy, as various rock stars from the biggest (Gene Simmons and John 5) to the smallest (Keith St. John) — ha ha, totally kidding, Keith — mingle about with lots of pretty girls and hangers-on thrown in.
It is the still the first year of Enuff Z’Nuff’s great experiment — bassist Chip taking over lead vocals — and one thing is for sure: the band is kicking ass.
It’s 28 years later, and the tall, blond Chicago native is the only original left. Talented but troubled lead singer Donnie Vie has long battled substance-abuse problems, spectacular drummer Vikki Foxx moved on decades ago, and guitarist Derek Frigo died in 2004.
“That first band was iconic, and I’m proud to say I spent all those years with them, but I think this band holds up really well,” Z’Nuff said. “I certainly didn’t want this job as the lead singer. I thank Donnie. He said: ‘Listen, get in the front and sing these songs. People are going to know it’s Enuff Z’Nuff. You co-wrote the songs. You produced all the records. You should do it.'”
Chip sounds just like Vie, fortunately, and fans are eating it up. Enuff Z’Nuff is doing a series of dates with Frehley after performing with big cousins KISS on a rock cruise.
As for Vie, Z’Nuff said the ex-singer is living in Chicago and apparently doing better than usual.
Among Enuff Z’Nuff key backing players are guitarists Tony Fennell (Ultravox) and Tory Stoffregen.
“Tony Fennell changed the whole face of the band. He really did,” Z’Nuff said. “He had confidence in my voice and in my pipes, and he thought I could do the gig.”
Frehley played a fun set with most of the big KISS songs coming at the end, including “Cold Gin,” “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce.”
Promising locals Smash Fashion opened. The modern glam foursome, led by singer Roger Deering, went over very well. Among the highlights were “Teenage Demon,” “Wolves of Wonderland” and “Gentle Hand.”
The other members are mohawked guitarist Stuart Cason, bassist Scarlet Rowe and drummer Repo.
We would meet up later with Chip at the Rainbow Bar & Grill just a few blocks north on Sunset Boulevard. In the meantime, Z’Nuff could not help but reflect on the band’s old logo, the green peace sign that nodded to Enuff Z’Nuff’s main influence, the Beatles.
“I think I do push the message of peace, and I push it all the time,” Z’Nuff said. “The country is very divided right now, and one thing that’s common to everyone is to get along and be peaceful, and be respectful to each other, and that’s what’s going to help this country survive.
“I know it sounds corny, but it’s really the truth: Let’s have some respect for each other, OK? That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. That’s going to go a long way. The peace sign looks cool, and it means cool things.”
Shortly after Frehley finished, we rushed over to the Whisky to meet up with Jack Russell’s Great White.
The club was very crowded, and fans were pushing toward the front when Russell and his mates broke into “Rock Me,” a big radio hit back in the day.
“Save Your Love” also killed, and soon the great Don Dokken jumped on stage around midnight for a couple songs, and the place was going nuts.
“It was great being on stage with Don again,” Russell said. “I always enjoy singing with him. He’s been one of my dearest friends for many years, and he’s been a huge influence musically and lyrically. Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, he is a wonderful guy. Very warm and kind-hearted.”
Guitarists Robby Lochner and Tony Montana were locked in on “Down On Your Knees.” Dan McNay played bass, and Dicki Fliszar was on drums.
Gerry Gittelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org