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King's X in 2009
|Also known as||The Edge, Sneak Preview|
|Origin||Springfield, Missouri, U.S.|
|Past members||Dan McCollam|
(both during The Edge-era)
King's X is an American rock band that originated in 1979 in Springfield, Missouri, who combine progressive metal, funk and soul with vocal arrangements influenced by gospel, blues, and British Invasion rock groups. Despite a largely underground reputation as the "musician's musicians", King's X was pivotal in the early development of progressive metal, and produced a series of early records considered essential within the genre. The band's lyrics are largely based on the members' struggles with religion and self-acceptance. King's X was ranked No. 83 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock.
Since being signed to Megaforce Records in 1987, King's X has released twelve studio albums, two official live albums, and several independent releases. They broke into the mainstream with their first six albums, including their only top 100 charting records Faith Hope Love (1990) and Dogman (1994). The band's most recent studio album, XV, was released in 2008 on the InsideOut Music label. Since leaving Atlantic Records, following the release of Ear Candy in 1996, King's X has released albums through Metal Blade Records, InsideOut Music and independently. Each member of the group has recorded several solo albums and have made numerous guest appearances on other artists' albums, as well as participated in numerous compilation projects. Doug Pinnick and Ty Tabor also have many albums released with side bands in which they participate.
Throughout their major label career the band secured opening slots on arena tours, including opening for bands like Cheap Trick, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Scorpions, Pearl Jam and Mötley Crüe as well as the Woodstock '94 festival. They continue to tour and perform live.
The spiritual nature of the band's lyrics, particularly on their first four albums, has often led to them being labeled a Christian rock band, a label the members have rejected. King's X have also been cited as an influence or inspiration to numerous acts such as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins, Pantera, Dream Theater, Devin Townsend and Soil.
Early years (1979–1984)
The group traces its beginnings to 1979 in Springfield, Missouri, when bassist Doug Pinnick and drummer Jerry Gaskill were brought together to take part in a musical project coordinated by Greg X. Volz of the Christian rock band Petra. Within a month of Pinnick's arrival from Illinois, the project folded and he and Gaskill were left without a band. They soon landed a job as rhythm section for guitarist Phil Keaggy's live band. The two toured the country for several months in support of Keaggy's album Ph'lip Side. During the group's show in Springfield, Gaskill was approached by Ty Tabor who was a member of the opening band that night. The drummer for Tabor's band had quit the night before the show and Tabor had volunteered to take over on drums for the gig. However, seeing as he had no drums, he was forced to ask Gaskill if he could borrow his kit for the show. Gaskill obliged and the show went on.
When the tour ended, Pinnick and Gaskill returned to Springfield and set about looking for more work. Gaskill landed a job doing demo work for the Tracy Zinn Band that happened to include Ty Tabor on guitar. The two became friends and were involved off and on together in different musical projects.
In early 1980, Pinnick attended a music show at Evangel College and watched a set by another of Tabor's bands. Pinnick was impressed with Tabor's skills and the two soon began collaborating musically.
Eventually Gaskill, Pinnick, and Tabor decided to pool their talents into a single outlet. Calling themselves the Edge, they initially were a four-piece with the inclusion of Dan McCollam on rhythm guitar. McCollam quit after only a brief time and was replaced by Kirk Henderson, who was a friend of Tabor's from Jackson, Mississippi. The group performed extensively on the Springfield bar and club circuit specializing in classic rock and Top 40 covers at the time.
By 1983, Henderson had quit the band and Pinnick, Tabor, and Gaskill decided to continue on as a trio. They also decided to change the name of the band, and settled on calling themselves Sneak Preview.
The group had been writing and recording many original songs up to this point. They chose ten of these songs to record for an independently released self-titled LP in 1983. After the album's release, the band continued to tour and hone their songwriting skills.
Move to Houston (1985–1987)
By 1985, the group had made connections at Star Song Records based in Houston, Texas and were encouraged to move the band there. The first order of business for the three was to become part of a touring band for CCM artist Morgan Cryar. Tabor and Pinnick are also credited for co-writing several songs on Cryar's second album Fuel on the Fire in 1986. Tabor also performed some guitar parts on the album and both he and Pinnick are credited with background vocals.
However, when it came to signing Sneak Preview to a recording contract with Star Song, negotiations broke down and the deal came to a halt.
While in Houston, the group met Sam Taylor, then vice president of ZZ Top's production company. Taylor quickly became interested in the trio and convinced them to change their name to King's X. He also supported and nurtured the group's transition from radio friendly, rock originals to a more experimental and complex songwriting style. Taylor would soon become the group's manager, producer, mentor, and according to some, the fourth member of the group. He was instrumental in helping the group secure a contract with Megaforce Records in 1987.
Megaforce era (1988–1991)
The group released its debut album as King's X, entitled Out of the Silent Planet, in 1988. Despite being hailed by music critics, the album did not fare well commercially, peaking at No. 144 on the Billboard album charts. The songs "King" and "Shot of Love" were released as singles, but failed to garner much attention. The album derives its name from the C. S. Lewis novel Out of the Silent Planet. This appears to be the band's first of multiple references to the British author. King's X promoted Out of the Silent Planet with its first major tour, playing with the likes of Cheap Trick, Blue Öyster Cult, Robert Plant and Hurricane, as well as Megaforce labelmates Anthrax, Testament, M.O.D., and Overkill.
In 1989, the band released Gretchen Goes to Nebraska. Considered by many fans to be their landmark album and most creative period, the album fared only slightly better from a commercial standpoint than Out of the Silent Planet. The band played with a wide variety of acts while touring in support of it, including Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, M.O.D., Living Colour, Billy Squier and Blue Murder. The album contains many fan favorites such as "Summerland", "Mission", and "The Burning Down". The song "The Difference (In the Garden of St. Anne's-on-the-Hill)" appears to be another C.S. Lewis reference, this time to a scene in the book That Hideous Strength, third and final installment of the "science-fiction" trilogy begun by Out of the Silent Planet. The song "Pleiades" is credited by Ty Tabor as being the genesis of the King's X sound when he presented the demo to the other band members a few years earlier. Significantly, the song "Over My Head" received moderate airplay on MTV and radio.
The increase in exposure would prove beneficial when the band released their third album, Faith Hope Love, in late 1990. It was the group's first album to crack the U.S. Top 100, with the help of the successful single "It's Love". Another track, the funk-rock "We Were Born to Be Loved", enjoyed a long life on Late Show with David Letterman as a commercial bumper instrumental favorite of Paul Shaffer's CBS Orchestra. King's X was featured in the February 1991 issue of Rolling Stone (RS598). Still, with major mainstream success continuously eluding them, King's X began questioning Sam Taylor's management vision for the group.
The band landed the opening slot for Iron Maiden in Europe on their No Prayer for the Dying tour in late 1990, and AC/DC in the U.S. and Europe for the first half of 1991. They also toured with Living Colour, themselves near the peak of their popularity. In the middle of that year, their song "Junior's Gone Wild" appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.
Atlantic era (1992–1997)
The band was moved up to Megaforce's parent label Atlantic Records for the release of their fourth album, King's X, in early 1992. However, rising tensions with Taylor led the band to eschew the upbeat approach of previous albums and turn out a darker, more introspective effort. Unfortunately, despite critical praise, their new style did not translate well among the record-buying public, thus garnering fewer sales than Faith, Hope, Love. "Black Flag", the album's lone single, received only moderate airplay on MTV and radio. Not long after the release of King's X, the band parted ways with Taylor. The details of the split were not made public, but it was believed to be rather bitter. Taylor would admit in 1996 that his company Wilde Silas MusicWorks was growing and, as a result, he was no longer giving King's X, whom he considered "the top dogs," the attention they deserved. In the aftermath, King's X took over a year off to consider their collective future together. The band members followed other, non-musical pursuits; most notably, guitarist Ty Tabor took up semi-professional motocross motorcycle racing.
With grunge at the peak of its popularity, and Pearl Jam's bassist Jeff Ament declaring that "King's X invented grunge" (despite the group's trademark sound being very different from that of the commercially successful grunge acts), the band went looking for a new sound upon their return. They enlisted veteran producer Brendan O'Brien, who had recently produced albums for Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. The resulting album, 1994's Dogman, showcased a much more muscular and heavy sound from the group, along with less abstract and spiritual lyrics. The record received a heavier promotional push from Atlantic including a compilation promotional CD entitled: Building Blox, as King's X enjoyed a successful tour, capped by an appearance at the Woodstock '94 festival in August. They also toured with bands such as the Scorpions, Pearl Jam, Mötley Crüe and Type O Negative, but despite a return to the Top 100 for the group, the album failed to sell as well as Atlantic had hoped, and the label's support for the group quickly faded.
The band's third release under Atlantic, 1996's Ear Candy, would also be their last for the label (not including a subsequent Best of King's X compilation). Although it sold to the band's sizeable core following, it lacked the relative mainstream success of previous efforts. The record was soon out of print, and it seemed that the group's chance for commercial success had come and gone.
Metal Blade era (1998–2004)
The group moved to Metal Blade Records in 1998. Their first album under the label, Tape Head, signaled a new era for the band. They modified their creative methods by writing and recording the album together in the studio, rather than coming together to record songs that the individual members had written separately. They also elected not to hire an outside producer and recorded the album at Pinnick's Hound Pound and Tabor's Alien Beans Studios, thus cutting production costs. Their next two albums, Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous (2000) and Manic Moonlight (2001), were more or less created in the same way.
Manic Moonlight featured the band experimenting with electronic drum loops and other sounds for the first time on a record. The new direction, along with the relatively short length of the album, was generally not well received by longtime fans, but did get some positive critical reviews.
For their next album, 2003's Black Like Sunday, the group arranged and recorded an album of original songs that the band had regularly performed during The Edge and Sneak Preview days of the early 1980s. The cover art for this album was selected from artwork submitted by fans in an online contest.
The double-disc set Live All Over the Place (2004) was the band's final album for Metal Blade Records, and their first official live release.
InsideOut era (2005–2018)
In 2005, King's X signed to InsideOut Music, the label that had previously released some of Tabor's side projects. The album Ogre Tones was released in September 2005 and was described by many as a return to a more "classic" King's X sound. It was produced by famed rock producer Michael Wagener (Dokken, Extreme, Stryper, White Lion, Skid Row) and recorded at Wageners Wire-World Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. The tour for Ogre Tones featured the band playing every song from the album during shows.
King's X again worked with Michael Wagener on its second album for InsideOut Music titled XV, released in May 2008. They spent mid-2008 touring with the band Extreme as part of a travelling version of the Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp. Live dates in the U.S. in December 2008 were followed by the band's first European tour in several years in early 2009.
Molken Music, an independent label started by Wally Farkas (ex- Galactic Cowboys) in 2005, has released several titles by King's X and its members. Live & Live Some More, a live concert recorded during the Dogman tour, is available there as well as demo compilations, rehearsal tapes, and other items. The label released the band's first live DVD, Gretchen Goes to London in November 2008. It was a live concert filmed in London in 1990. On January 22, 2009, their concert at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, London, was filmed and released as a live DVD and CD entitled Live Love in London.
On February 26, 2012, Jerry Gaskill suffered a major heart attack, temporarily stopping the band's touring schedule. He was on a ventilator for several days while also suffering from pneumonia. In response, King's X compiled an exclusive live release from their archives entitled Burning Down Boston: Live at The Channel 6.12.91. The proceeds from the release went directly to Gaskill to help him offset his medical expenses. Gaskill posted a video message on Facebook on April 4, 2012, thanking everyone who had supported him during his illness.
The band went back to touring until Gaskill suffered another heart attack while recovering from a "scheduled minor procedure" on September 12, 2014, requiring him to undergo double-bypass surgery. King's X subsequently canceled all scheduled concerts, and announced an indefinite hiatus.
In mid-2015, the band was back on tour, playing numerous dates on the east coast. They also played shows for July in Texas. In June 2015, Doug Pinnick announced that King's X were committed to begin work on a new studio album, their first since 2008's XV.
Golden Robot era (2018–present)
The band signed a world-wide record deal on October 8, 2018, with Australian independent record label, Golden Robot Records, who had planned to release their new album in the U.S, Australia and Europe sometime in 2019, though it was later delayed to 2020.
An authorized biography by Greg Prato, King's X: The Oral History, via Jawbone Press was released in February 2019. In addition to extensive interviews with all three band members, the book included interviews with such rock musicians as Jeff Ament, Andy Summers, Mick Mars, Billy Corgan, and Eddie Trunk among others, and featured a foreword by Scott Ian.
Solo and side projects
The members of King's X have been musically prolific since the separation from Atlantic in 1997, releasing a number of solo albums and participating in side bands.
Pinnick recorded two solo albums under the name of Poundhound, Massive Grooves... (1997) and Pineappleskunk (2001), while his subsequent releases Emotional Animal (2005), Strum Sum Up (2007) and Naked (2013) were credited as dUg Pinnick.
He has also been a member of several bands outside of King's X:
- Supershine featuring guitarist Bruce Franklin and drummer Jeff Olson both from the band Trouble. They released one self-titled album in 2000.
- The Mob featuring Reb Beach from Winger, Kelly Keagy from Night Ranger, and keyboardist Timothy Drury. They released a self-titled album in 2006.
- Razr13 is a project with members of the King's X road crew who released the album Reflections in 2009.
- Tres Mtns. with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam and drummer Richard Stuverud released an album in 2011.
- Pinnick Gales Pridgen with Eric Gales and Thomas Pridgen released their debut album in 2013 and the follow-up album PGP 2 in July 2014.
- 3rd Ear Experience with vocalist/guitarist Robbi Robb released the digital EP Peacock Black in 2013 followed by the full-length album Boi
- KXM featuring guitarist George Lynch and drummer Ray Luzier
- Grinder Blues with Jeff and Scot Bihlman released their self-titled debut album in 2014.
Pinnick has also made numerous guest appearances on albums by bands including Dream Theater, 24-7 Spyz, Steve Stevens and others. Beyond that he has appeared on several tribute albums to the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Van Halen and more.
Gaskill released a solo album in 2004 titled Come Somewhere which was produced by Ty Tabor.
He released his second solo album, Love and Scars, on October 30, 2015, which was produced by DA Karkos.
Tabor has released seven solo albums to date: Naomi's Solar Pumpkin (1997), Moonflower Lane (1998), Safety (2002), Rock Garden (2006), Balance (2008), Something's Coming (2010), Trip Magnet EP (2010), Nobody Wins When Nobody Plays (2013), Alien Beans (2018), and Angry Monk (2020).
Other bands Ty Tabor has been a member of are:
- Platypus, with Rod Morgenstein, Derek Sherinian, and John Myung, released When Pus Comes to Shove in 1998 and Ice Cycles in 2000.
- The Jelly Jam is an ongoing project with Rod Morgenstein and John Myung. They released The Jelly Jam in 2002, The Jelly Jam 2 in 2004, Shall We Descend in 2011, and
ProphetProfit in May 2016.
- Jughead featuring two-time David Lee Roth drummer Gregg Bissonette, keyboardist Derek Sherinian, and singer / bassist Matt Bissonette released one album in 2004.
- Xenuphobe is an electronic / ambient project with former Galactic Cowboys member Wally Farkas. So far the pair have released the albums 1.0 in 2006, 2.0 Electrolux 2007, and Drone in 2015.
Whether the band's name was intended as a Christian reference or not, the band members themselves have resisted being identified as a Christian metal or Christian rock band. Although many of their early lyrics have a clear spiritual influence, generally this came from the individual faith of the members rather than an explicit attempt to tap into the contemporary Christian music market in the way groups such as Petra did. The fact that King's X signed to Christian labels early in their career and that the Faith Hope Love CD insert contained an entire chapter of the Bible, likely further fueled their association as a Christian band. What is more, some of their albums were marketed through Christian book stores, but most removed King's X records after Pinnick's announcement in 1998 of his homosexuality. The band has stated in interviews that much of their Christian image was manufactured by their former manager, Sam Taylor, in an effort to appeal to a crossover audience, similar to the early career of U2. A former Protestant, Pinnick has since openly discussed his agnosticism and his belief that Jesus Christ was not truly the Son of God. Bandmates Tabor and Gaskill—as well as Pinnick—however, have a background in Christian rock but Gaskill has since disassociated himself from Christianity. In recent interviews, Tabor continues to identify himself as a Christian, but has called the Christian music industry "vile".
|Year||Album||U.S.||U.S. Christian||U.S. Indie||UK|
|1983||Sneak Preview (as Sneak Preview)||—||—||—||—|
|1988||Out of the Silent Planet||144||—||—||—|
|1989||Gretchen Goes to Nebraska||123||—||—||52|
|1990||Faith Hope Love||85||31||—||70|
|2000||Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous||—||—||—||—|
|2003||Black Like Sunday||—||—||13||—|
|Year||Album||U.S.||U.S. Christian||U.S. Indie||UK|
|2004||Live All Over the Place||—||—||—||—|
|2007||Live & Live Some More||—||—||—||—|
|2009||Tales From the Empire||—||—||—||—|
|2010||Live Love in London||—||—||—||—|
|2012||Burning Down Boston||—||—||—||—|
|Year||Album||U.S.||U.S. Christian||U.S. Indie||UK|
|1997||Best of King's X||—||—||—||—|
|1988||"Goldilox"||–||Out of the Silent Planet|
|"Shot of Love"||–|
|1989||"Over My Head"||–||Gretchen Goes to Nebraska|
|1990||"It's Love"||6||Faith Hope Love|
|"I'll Never Get Tired of You"||–|
|"We Are Finding Who We Are"||–|
|1991||"Junior's Gone Wild"||–||Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey: Music from the Motion Picture|
|1992||"Black Flag"||17||King's X|
|"Dream In My Life"||–|
|"World Around Me"||–|
|"Looking for Love"||–|
|2000||"Marsh Mellow Field"||–||Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous|
|2001||"False Alarm"||–||Manic Moonlight|
- Gretchen Goes to London (2008 Molken Music)
- Live Love in London (2010 Inside Out/EMI)
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