A guy from Jersey, one from Illinois, and another from Mississippi...what are the odds?
Doug Pinnick came from Joliet, IL and grew up in a "musical" family where everybody sang. Jerry Gaskill hails from Bradenton, New Jersey. Ty Tabor began playing bluegrass with his family at an early age in Mississippi...So, how did they come together?
Doug and Jerry met while both were touring with the Christian rock band Petra. The two attended a gig at Evangel college in Springfield, MO and spotted a blazing guitar player... who happened to be a young Ty Tabor. Doug and Jerry felt charged and went home to look up Ty in the phone book! After some convincing the three formed a band, initially called the Edge in 1980, doing mostly cover tunes (ranging from Top 40 to Beatles, The Police and U2). The Edge played the Missouri bar scene for a few years gathering a moderate following. Many of these early recordings still exist today in the King’s X fan community. The band changed their name to "Sneak Preview" around 1983 and released a self titled LP under the same name with all original material. The material was pop 80’s rock but is still of great interest to King’s X fans as the genesis of some later King’s X songs come from this album. Notably the track "The Door" which became "Picture" on the band’s Ear Candy album released 13 years after the initial track was recorded. At the promise of a record deal the group moved to Houston in 1985. The original deal fell through but the band met up with Z.Z. Top video producer Sam Taylor, who took them under his wing and suggested the name King’s X, after a local band he was fond of in high school. After several attempts, King’s X finally scored a deal with the independent Megaforce label. The show at Cat Club in New York City (1987?) is slated by the band to be the showcase performance for Jon and Marsha Zazula of Megaforce. Rumor has it Jonny Z signed them right then and there after the stirring performance.
Now, secure with a record deal, they released their debut album, Out of the Silent Planet, in 1988. Critics and musicians took immediate notice of the band’s unique blend of Beatle’s style vocal harmonies with Black Sabbath power riffs mixed with a non-overbearing positive, spiritual theme. The track "Over My Head," from Gretchen Goes to Nebraska (the second album, released in 1989), received a moderate amount of airplay on radio and MTV, and the band found widespread favor with critics and fellow musicians (many fans and critics consider the second album a landmark and/or classic all time album). The third album, Faith Hope Love by King’s X, was the first album to reach the Top 100, due in part to the single "It’s Love," (oddly enough Ty handles the lead vocals on this song, where as Doug does on most of the material) and its success led to a major-label deal with Atlantic records. The band toured extensively (the US and Europe) in support of ’Faith Hope Love’ touring with notable acts AC/DC and Living Colour. At this time they also embarked on a mini-tour of all acoustic material showcasing their musicianship to local radio stations from Texas to Rhode Island. Their debut with Atlantic records, 1992’s King’s X, did not do as well as the previous album and was marred by the band’s "break up" with Sam Taylor (see the Dogman song ’Fool You’). The band, in search of a fresh direction from the reign of Taylor, teamed up with producer Brendan O’Brien (Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam) for 1994’s Dogman. The album was considered a break from the norm of King’s X, where vocal harmonies and musicianship still were the key, Doug handled the lead vocals for the entire album. Another notable quirk of this recording was Ty’s switch to Mesa-Boogie amps and to Zion guitars (custom built Ty Tabor model). The theme of the album was less "sprititual" and more "down to earth" (and considered by some "harsh" or "heavier". The title track "Dogman" has become a staple in the band’s live shows and was the only song to have a video made for it on this album. Atlantic seemed to have better marketing on this one with a line up of sold out shows including an appeareance at the Woodstock ’94 festival (the live version of ’Over My Head’ from this performance was released on the band’s Best Of Album in 1997), various TV appearances (MTV "Headbangers Ball", The Jon Stewart Show, The Dennis Miller Show), and a brief tour opening for Pearl Jam. The next release, 1996’s Ear Candy, saw the band fallen out of favor with Atlantic records. The band orignally had support at the label from Doug Lienig but now that he was gone the backing dissapeared. Atlantic needs to sell millions of records but at this point it didn’t seem as though King’s X would ever crest that hill of mass acceptance. The band had grown tired of trying for the "hit album" and had released Ear Candy without trying to pressure themselves in that direction. Many rumors of the bands demise were fostered and even printed at this time. Take the first track of Ear Candy, The Train:
"Last time aboard the train that goes around the world". A tour followed Ear Candy and the venues and crowds were noticeably smaller. The band was ready for a change. Atlantic produced a lesser amount of the Ear Candy CDs than previous records and the CD is already out of print.
To part ways with Atlantic the band put out a "Best Of" album which in retrospect should have been called "Best of the first half of our career". The Best of album featured reamastered tracks (done by Ty Tabor), three new songs, and a live track (from Woodstock, mentioned previously). The band did a few gigs during this time playing their "hits". After purveying many offers the band landed on Metal Blade records with whom they have had a working relationship with for some time (and also the label has supported other Houston rock groups notably Galactic Cowboys and Atomic Opera, both of whom share a long history with King’s X - they also moved to Houston from Missouri in search of the ’big break’).
In 1998 King’s X released their debut album with Metal Blade records titled Tapehead. The album was recorded and written in a matter of days and was completely produced (including artwork etc) by the band. An extensive world tour followed, marking the first time the band had toured europe in approximately 8 years. The touring neearly lasted 2 full years as the band really pushed to get out on the road to support Tapehead.
The second Metal Blade release Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous was released on 5.23.2000 and once again the band toured Europe and the United States extensively. As has become their signature the band generally hangs out after the shows being more than gracious in meeting their fans. Mr. Bulbous was a strange departure from the groove rock of Tapehead. Mr. Bulbous employs lush harmonies and odd song structures in many places.. along with some abstract, even silly lyrics. "She’s Gone Away" has become a signature live track.
King’s X released their third effort on Metal Blade on 9.25.2001 entitled "Manic Moonlight". Yet another departure from their previous efforts, the band used drum loops and atmospheric elements to craft this album. The song "Vegetable" has become a live monster often ranging into the 13-15 minute range. "Static" has also become a concert favorite from this record.
King’s X also decided to embark on a fall 2002 arena tour opening for Dream Theater and Joe Satriani. Following the Satch tour King’s X toured in support legendary rocker Ronnie James Dio. Keeping to this trend in search of new fans King’s X toured with Fishbone as well as other acts. Clearly the band was looking to find a new audience while still coddling the long time fans that are more loyal than rabid dogs who haven’t been fed in two months. Ty Tabor also launched his own website (TyTabor.net) and the official website of King’s X was now KingsXOnline.com. Now fans could instantly keep in touch with the goings on of the band. Ty also released his 3rd solo album "Safety" which chronicles his thoughts and feelings regarding his divorce. The album was tough for Ty to release which is laid out in the liner notes of the CD. Ty put his heart on the wall for all to see on this record.
King’s X’s 2003 release, "Black Like Sunday" was a retrospective back into the days when the band was in their infancy. For this album the band formed their own label, "Brop!" records. Brop! is a reference to something in Ty’s youth (an inside joke apparently). Once again this album is a departure from their other work. The band went back and resurrected some of their earliest original works to re-record them as is, lyrics and all. The result is a more straight forward album compared to say, Mr. Bulbous, but perhaps you can hear their influences even clearer with this early material.
2004: The live album is finally unleashed. After many years of fan badgering and waiting for Atlantic to not own their material the band released a live album "Live All Over The Place". The recording is a raw interpretation of a typical King’s X show. The double CD includes a quasi-acoustic set which that band added for the Black Like Sunday tour. Those familiar with the band know the live experience backs up the band’s solid reputation in the industry. They don’t just sing and play great in the studie, they can do it live just as well. This year also marked the release of Jerry’s first solo album "Come Somewhere".
currently jerry’s three sons are all doing well
ty’s son is doing well with the air force
doug is doing well
this is a story that continues to evolve
Long live the Kings...
Written By -David M. Koblentz