King's X Biography
Last updated: 05/12/2009 12:00:00 PM
Doug Pinnick - Vocals, Bass
Ty Tabor - Vocals, Guitar
Jerry Gaskill - Vocals, Drums
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, initially specializing in 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 in 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"). With songs such as "Human Beahvior" and "Fool You". 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" and "Hangin' with MTV", 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 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 and as always hang out after the shows being more than gracious in meeting their fans.
2001 marks the first year one of the band's solo projects has actually toured. "Poundhound" (Doug's solo project) launched a US tour on 4.8.2001. King's X has released their third effort on Metal Blade 9.25.2001 entitled "Manic Moonlight". 2002 looks to be a busy year. Extensive touring and Ty has released 3 CDs this year ("The Jelly Jam", "Jughead" and his 3rd solo effort "Safety"). King's X has also embarked on a fall 2002 arena tour opening for Dream Theater/Joe Satriani. Following the Satch tour King's X is touring with legendary rocker Ronnie James Dio.
Long live the Kings...
-David M. Koblentz