Kiss is one of the most well-known pioneers of rock music, hitting the scene in 1974 with their self-titled debut album. Thousands of fans have learned to “rock and roll all night and party every day” from the quartet – Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.
One of those fans, 17-year-old Pocahontas County High School senior Karly Van Meter, grew up listening to the band, thanks to her dad, Bruce, who passed on his love of rock music to his daughter.
Van Meter’s love of the band and guitarist Ace Frehley’s solo career has blossomed over the years and has become the inspiration for her own art and music.
“Just over the years, it’s grown into a big obsession,” she admitted. “He kind of inspired me to play guitar after watching him play so much. I’m self-taught for four years, and I sing. He’s been a big part of my life for such a long time.”
During her junior year, Van Meter moved to Pocahontas County from New Jersey and found ways to include Frehley in her schoolwork. For art class, she painted a portrait of Frehley playing guitar and did a pencil drawing of his portrait.
Her intentions were to give the two pieces of art to Frehley at a concert last April, but she wasn’t able to do that. Luckily, her mom, Virginia, has a friend who has known Frehley for decades and that friend got the artwork to Frehley.
The friend sent Van Meter a photo of Frehley with the artwork to confirm it had been delivered.
“He gave them to Ace, and he sent me that picture, and I about fell on the floor,” she said. “I was crying so hard, it was just such a really awesome experience, and I’m going to hold on to that forever.”
The friend called Van Meter and she got a chance to talk to Frehley on the phone.
“I could hear Ace laughing in the background,” she said. “He put Ace on the phone, and I got to talk to him for a few seconds. He loved them [the drawings] so much and they’re actually hanging up in his house right now. I talked to his girlfriend and she said that they are hanging up in his man cave.”
Van Meter has seen Frehley perform and is hopeful that she will get to meet him during his next tour. Her fandom for 70s and 80s rock doesn’t end with Kiss and Frehley. She has also had a chance to meet Alice Cooper and is also a fan of Misfits.
Van Meter hopes to one day join the ranks of her favorites as a rock musician. She is applying to schools in places like Kentucky and Tennessee and is keeping California in her sights, as well.
“Something about California is calling my name,” she said. “Something about that area. I’m still looking and applying to as many schools as I can. There are some good programs out there, and I’ve got some good people out in California that can hook me up real quick. I’m friends with all kinds of people at record labels.”
One of those people is helping Van Meter get connected to rock band Halestorm, whom she hopes to perform with this spring when she visits California during spring break.
“He’s going to set it up, and I’ll probably be singing with her [Halestorm singer Lizzy Hale],” she said. “I’m very, very excited. I may be singing in front of fifty thousand people. That’s my life goal. I know it’s going to happen one day. Maybe not right now. It’s definitely my biggest goal.”
Fueled by her experiences and talent, Van Meter is ready to take on the world and become a member of the rock scene.
“I’m so excited because it’s such a big part of my life,” she said. “Music saved my life. I genuinely cannot live without it. It’s such a big part of my life, and I just want to take that on and give my gift to other people.”