History - 1980 to 1982
1980 held some huge changes for Kiss. Original drummer Peter Criss was gone and new drummer, Eric Carr, joined. Eric's drumming really gave Kiss and Ace a much needed kick-in-the-butt for the upcoming tour supporting Unmasked (recorded January & February 1980 / released May 20, 1980) (touring July 25, 1980 to December 3, 1980).
**Note - There was a 1 month break between a one-off gig in New York City on July 25, 1980 and the official, opening date of the tour on August 29, 1980, in Rome, Italy.
Ace's 3 pickup Black Customs were now his primary guitars for the majority of the shows, although there were a few performances in Scandinavia where Ace used a Black Custom, before the middle pickup insert had been installed. His aging but always dependable Cherry-burst Custom now saw far less playing time than in previous tours. Other guitars making the Unmasked tour included the flashing, lighted guitar from the Steve Carr Custom shop and now a second one-of-a-kind guitar from Steve's shop, the Mini-Explorer, which Ace would tune in open-G and use exclusively for the song 'Talk To Me'. Little else changed for Ace or his guitars during this time and sadly, even the addition of Eric Carr wouldn't be enough to reverse his waning interest in Kiss or his role as the Spaceman.
The last show of the Unmasked tour was on December 3, 1980, in Auckland, New Zealand and following that show, Ace would not perform live again, with Kiss, until the Reunion Tour, of 1996. There were however, many photo shoots and some T.V. appearances in North America and Europe, that Ace would participate in, supporting 1981's Music From The Elder (recorded March to September 1981 / released November 16, 1981) and 1982's Creatures Of The Night (recorded July to September 1982 / released October 13, 1982). Ace only wrote one song for Music From The Elder, although he did record all the guitar tracks. And, despite having his picture on the original cover for Cr6eatures Of The Night, Ace didn't participate in this release at all.
During the various 'T.V' and 'press' appearances for these two albums, Ace would use a 3 pickup Black Custom, his 3 pickup Cherry-burst Custom and the Steve Carr Mini-Explorer. One of Ace's very last appearances with Kiss was in the fall of 1982, for the video shoot for 'I Love It Loud' and it's interesting to note Ace's choice of guitar. It marked a sort of return to his beginnings, in the form of a 1982 Cherry-burst Gibson Les Paul Deluxe. The key difference between this model and his Tobacco-burst models of the early '70's was that this one was equipped with the 'mini-humbucker' pickups more commonly associated with the Deluxe models.
I don't know if it just happened this way or if it was by design; but it's really interesting to see that one of the very last pictures of Ace in makeup, with Kiss, until the Reunion Tour in 1996, was not with a guitar at all. Instead, it had him seated behind Eric Carr's massive, Ludwig drum kit. Maybe Ace did this intentionally or maybe not ... actually, both Gene and Paul posed for pictures behind Eric's drums too.
July 25 1980 -
The Palladium, New York City, NY
The Unmasked tour photoshoot and Ace with his
1974 Cherry Sunburst Les Paul Custom
August 31 1980 -
Palasport di Genova, Genova, Italy
The Unmasked tour and Ace with his
1974 Cherry Sunburst Les Paul Custom
September 8 & 9 1980 -
Wembley Arena, London, England
The Unmasked tour and Ace's Black Customs were becoming his 'go-to' guitars
October 10 1980 -
Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden
A very rare shot of one of Ace's Black Customs, before the middle pickup "insert" was added
November 08 1980 -
Perth Entertainment Center,
Ace and his 1974 Cherry Custom coming to the end of their initial tenure with Kiss
November 22, 1980 -
Sydney Showground, Sydney, Australia
Less than 2 weeks before Ace's final live performance with Kiss, until the Reunion tour
September 25 1981 -
Azteca 13 Studio, Mexico City, Mexico
Ace and his 1974 Cherry Custom doing a TV lip-sync performance,
in support of The Elder
October 31 1981 -
New York City, NY
Ace and his Steve Carr Mini-Explorer doing a TV lip-sync performance, in support of The Elder
October 31 1981 - New York City, NY
Ace and his Steve Carr Mini-Explorer doing a TV lip-sync performance, in support of
November 22 1981 -
Solid Gold TV Show Filming
Ace and his Steve Carr
January 15 1982 -
ABC Studios, New York City, NY
Ace and a Black Custom doing a lip-synched performance in support of Creatures Of The Night ... an album that Ace had nothing to do with
November 30 1982 - Vorsicht Musik TV Show, Munich, Germany
Ace and his 74 Cherry Burst Custom making their final appearance with Kiss until the Unplugged TV show in 1996. Maybe the best clue that this was the end of Ace's first tenure with Kiss is that he's still wearing his
Elder-era costume and Gene, Paul and Eric all have their Creature-era costumes