Grave Digger (band)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Grave Digger
Grave Digger at Metalcamp in 2007
Grave Digger at Metalcamp in 2007
Background information
OriginGladbeck, Germany
GenresHeavy metal, power metal, speed metal (early)
Years active1980–1986, 1986–1987 (as Digger), 1988–1991 (as Hawaii), 1991–present
LabelsNapalm, Nuclear Blast, Noise, Locomotive
MembersChris Boltendahl
Jens Becker
Axel Ritt
Marcus Kniep
Past membersLutz Schmelzer
Peter Masson
Philip Seibel (deceased)
Martin Gerlitzki
Willi Lackman (deceased)
Albert Eckardt
C.F. Frank
Peter Breitenbach
Tomi Göttlich
Uwe Lulis
Jörg Michael
Frank Ulrich
Manni Schmidt
Thilo Hermann
Hans Peter "H.P." Katzenburg
Stefan Arnold

Grave Digger is a German heavy metal band that was first formed in 1980 by Chris Boltendahl and Peter Masson.

Band history[edit]

Early years and split (1980–1987)[edit]

After various appearances at small festivals, the band recorded two songs for the compilation album Rock from Hell in 1983. A year later, Grave Digger, now comprising Chris Boltendahl (vocals), Peter Masson (guitar), Willi Lackmann (bass) and Albert Eckardt (drums), released their debut album Heavy Metal Breakdown.

In 1985, with Lackmann having left the band, they recorded and released their second album Witch Hunter. Only after the album was completed, a replacement on bass was found in the form of C.F. Brank. Further festival appearances followed, a tour with Helloween as special guest and, finally, their third album War Games in January 1986. To promote this album, a triple headline tour with Celtic Frost and Helloween followed. Thereafter, Peter Masson gave way to Uwe Lulis; in 1987 the band's name was changed to Digger, the name under which they released the album Stronger Than Ever. The album flopped, as it was not accepted by fans or the masses. As a result, Boltendahl declared at the end of 1987, the breakup of the band.

Reformation and Middle Ages Trilogy (1991–1999)[edit]

In 1991, the band was partially reformed. Boltendahl and Lulis, along with two newcomers, Tomi Göttlich and Jörg Michael, who had been the drummer for Rage and Running Wild, released a comeback record called The Reaper in 1993. This album was a return to the true roots of Grave Digger. In the same year, the album The Best of the Eighties was released. It represented a quasi Best-of-Album of their earlier songs.

An EP titled Symphony of Death followed in 1994. In the interim, Grave Digger, now with a new drummer, Frank Ullrich, toured Germany, playing as the warm-up act for Manowar. In 1995, the album Heart of Darkness appeared. It was a very dark album with many influences from the early works of Annihilator[citation needed].

In 1996, Stefan Arnold became the band's new drummer. This year also marked the release of the concept album Tunes of War, which dealt with the history of Scotland. This album was the first part of the Middle Ages Trilogy. The second album, Knights of the Cross, with Jens Becker as bass guitarist, was released in 1998 and was about the rise and fall of the Knights Templar. The final part of the trilogy finished in 1999 with Excalibur. This album explored the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Shortly after, a tour soon followed through with keyboardist Hans-Peter Katzenburg, who later became a permanent band member.

The Grave Digger and Rheingold (2000–2004)[edit]

In 2000, Grave Digger celebrated their 20th anniversary. To mark the occasion, they performed at a sell-out concert at the Zeche in Bochum. Many of the band's most popular songs were played alongside other less well-known ones. There were also a number of different supporting acts appearing with Grave Digger. This concert also marked a defining chapter in the band's history, as Uwe Lulis left a short while before the concert because of personal and business reasons. Lulis finally called his new band Rebellion.

A replacement, in the form of the ex-Rage guitarist, Manni Schmidt, was found. Along with him and the new record label Nuclear Blast, the album The Grave Digger, appeared in 2001. The works of Edgar Allan Poe served as an inspiration for the lyrics of the new album. Their first live album, Tunes of Wacken, appeared in 2002. This was coupled with the release of their first DVD of the same name. The next album Rheingold was released on 26 May 2003,[1] which centered on the opera Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner. They embarked on a tour in support of the album into early 2004.[2]

The Last Supper and Ballads of a Hangman (2005–2009)[edit]

After the successful Rheingold Tour, the band recorded another album, The Last Supper, which was released on 17 January 2005. The artwork was first revealed in November 2004 which received positive feedback. A number of fans were disappointed by the artwork because of the motive. The band issued a statement saying that the cover isn't a message of the Devil and not against Christians, but a representation of a depressive Jesus Christ at his last days before his death.[3] Unlike their previous albums, The Last Supper was not a concept album, despite several songs about the last days of Jesus. A few journalists described the album as the best since Tunes of War or Heavy Metal Breakdown[citation needed]. According to the band, it contains "more metal, more passion and more power" than the group's previous efforts. Less than a month later, the band began a tour with Stormhammer and Astral Doors in Andernach, the birthplace of Manni Schmidt.

October 2005 saw the release of a live DVD titled 25 to Live, which was recorded live in São Paulo, commemorating the band's 25th anniversary.[4]

In December 2006, a number of release parties was announced for the band's follow-up album, Liberty or Death,[5] which was released on 12 January 2007. A Double-Headline Tour together with Therion followed, beginning 17 January 2007 in Essen.

In late February 2008, Grave Digger began writing new material.[6] In mid-August, they entered Principal studios with additional guitarist Thilo Hermann[7] to record their 13th studio album entitled Ballads of a Hangman, which was released on 9 January 2009 under their new label Napalm Records.[8] It was their first album with twin guitars.

In February 2009, the band parted ways with Thilo Hermann due to the built up excitement of a second guitarist and with the free space on stage and musical aspects that was observed by every old band member independently.[9] In early October, Manni Schmidt left the band due to ongoing disagreements with Chris Boltendahl.[10]

The Clans Will Rise Again and The Living Dead (2010–2018)[edit]

On 12 January 2010, Schmidt was replaced by Domain guitarist Axel Ritt after performing temporarily during the remaining dates of the band's previous tour.[11]

From mid-May to mid-July 2010, the band recorded their new album The Clans Will Rise Again, which was released in Europe on 1 October with a North American release following soon after. The album is a loose sequel of the Tunes of War album, but this time it is not a concept album about the Scottish history. It's more of a work about Scotland, its mysticism and its people. On 11 September, Grave Digger released a video for "Highland Farewell", the fourth track appearing on the album.[12]

On 27 July 2012, the band released a new EP entitled Home at Last[13] with Clash of the Gods following on 31 August 2012.[14] They performed a handful of shows in the UK and Europe from early to late 2012 and then toured throughout 2013 in Europe and a few shows in Brazil in support of the album.

In February 2014, the band began recording their next album Return of the Reaper.[15] On 20 March, the band revealed the artwork[16] followed by the track listing on 23 April.[17] It was released on 11 July. In mid-November, keyboard player Hans Peter Katzenburg left the band in order to spend more time on outside projects. He was replaced by Marcus Kniep, who would continue performing as The Reaper.[18]

In October 2015, Exhumation – The Early Years was released, which contains re-recorded versions of the band's "absolute classics with a dynamic and powerful sound of 2015," according to a press release.[19]

In June 2016, Grave Digger entered the studio to begin working on their next album entitled Healed by Metal, which was released on 13 January 2017.[20][21] They embarked on a tour with Blind Guardian as the support act on their second leg North American tour supporting the album Beyond the Red Mirror.[22]

In March 2018, the band returned to the studio to record their nineteenth album The Living Dead, which was released on 14 September 2018, with a European tour taking place in January 2019.[23][24] On 25 June 2018, longtime drummer Stefan Arnold departed the band and was replaced by keyboardist Marcus Kniep, thus returning Grave Digger as a quartet since 1996.[25]

Fields of Blood (2020–present)[edit]

Grave Digger's twentieth album Fields of Blood was released on 29 May 2020, celebrating the band's 40th anniversary.[26]


Current lineup[edit]

  • Chris Boltendahl – vocals (1980–present); bass (1980–1982, 1985)
  • Jens Becker – bass (1998–present)
  • Axel Ritt – guitars (2009–present)
  • Marcus Kniep – keyboards (2014–present); drums (2018–present)

Former members[edit]

  • Lutz Schmelzer – drums (1980)
  • Peter Masson – guitars (1980–1986)
  • Philip Seibel – drums (1981–1982; died 2002)
  • Martin Gerlitzki – bass (1983)
  • Willi Lackman – bass (1983–1984; died 2013)
  • Albert Eckardt – drums (1983–1986)
  • C.F. Frank – bass (1985–1986)
  • Peter Breitenbach – drums (1991–1992)
  • Tomi Göttlich – bass (1991–1997)
  • Uwe Lulis – guitars (1991–2000)
  • Jörg Michael – drums (1993–1994)
  • Frank Ulrich – drums (1995)
  • Hans Peter "H.P." Katzenburg – keyboards (1996–2014)
  • Stefan Arnold – drums (1996–2018)
  • Manni Schmidt – guitars (2000–2009)
  • Thilo Hermann – guitars (2007–2009)

Timeline (as 'Grave Digger'; 1980–1986, 1991–present)[edit]

Timeline (as 'Digger' and 'Hawaii'; 1986–1991)[edit]



  1. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER Name New CD". Retrieved 16 January 2003.
  2. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER Tour Dates Announced". Retrieved 7 June 2003.
  3. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER Explain New Album Cover". Retrieved 24 November 2004.
  4. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 25-Year-Anniversary Live CD/DVD Track Listing Revealed". Retrieved 6 June 2005.
  5. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'Liberty Or Death' Release Parties Announced". Retrieved 7 December 2006.
  6. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER Begins Writing New Material". Retrieved 21 February 2008.
  8. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'Ballads of a Hangman' Track Listing, Cover Artwork Revealed". Retrieved 1 November 2008.
  10. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER Parts Ways With Guitarist MANNI SCHMIDT". Retrieved 8 October 2009.
  11. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER INTRODUCE NEW GUITARIST". Retrieved 12 January 2010.
  12. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'Highland Farewell' Video Released". Retrieved 11 September 2011.
  13. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'Home at Last' Mini-CD Details Revealed". Retrieved 6 June 2012.
  14. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'Clash of the Gods' Track Listing Revealed". Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  15. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER Begins Recoding New Album". Retrieved 13 February 2014.
  16. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'Return of the Reaper' Cover Artwork Unveiled". Retrieved 20 March 2014.
  17. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'Return of the Reaper' Track Listing Revealed". Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  18. ^ "Grave Digger - DER GRIMME SCHNITTER IST ZURÜCK ... PLEASE... | Facebook". Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  19. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER's 'Exhumation – The Early Years' Album To Include Re-Recorded Versions Of Band's 'Classics'". Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  20. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER To Enter Studio in June". Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  21. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER To Release 'Healed By Metal' Album in January". Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  22. ^ "BLIND GUARDIAN To Tour North America With GRAVE DIGGER". Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  23. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER To Release 'The Living Dead' Album in September; 2019 European Tour Announced". Retrieved 5 June 2018.
  24. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER: 'The Living Dead' Artwork, Track Listing Revealed". Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  25. ^ Michels, Alexandra. "Grave Digger: Marcus Kniep ersetzt Stefan Arnold". Rock Hard. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
  26. ^ "GRAVE DIGGER To Celebrate 40th Anniversary With 'Fields Of Blood' Album". Retrieved 13 March 2020.

External links[edit]