The Mystery of King’s X

On a Tuesday back in the spring of 1988, I was hanging out at Hegewisch records in Calumet City like I always did. Tuesday was new release day and I would go there with a couple of friends to sniff out some new music. A friend of ours worked there, so we would head there before we went off to our college classes in the quest to score us some new musak.

My buddy pulls out this CD with a pretty cool album cover. We used to buy albums from bands we never heard sometimes just by the album cover. So my buddy opened it up and popped it in the player.

At the 1:35 mark of the song, my life changed. A guitar burst out of the speaker with a low growl that shook us to our core. It seemed lower than most and it sounded majestic. What in the living hell kinda guitar sound was that?

We were all guitarist heads. EVH, SRV, Jeff Watson, Brad Gillis, Steve Clark, Phil Collen, Randy Rhoads, you name them, we dug them.

But all of the above and more never played something that low. Upon further investigation, it was something called Drop-D tuning. Hello my low rumbling friend.

More than that, there was this singer that sounded like he just stepped out of a gospel choir singing on a hard rock song! The bass on the tune was HUGEMONGOUS. The drumming as well, top notch and groovy. Halfway though the song “In The New Age” we were blown away. Then, the solo. DAMN. It was long and rumbling, it was erratic and shredding and it was ended and slid int some amazing singing.

The next song was a ballad. Goldilox. It was a ballad with that low rumbling sound and wonderful singing. And the lyrics were smart, not like all the other metal ballads out there. It was a love song about love, not sleaze. It is going to be a massive hit for this band. MASSIVE. Beatles style harmonies, bad ass playing, and a groove. How can this not be the biggest thing to hit music?

Song after song on the album was brilliant. Heavy, harmonic, melodious, soaring and spiritual all wrapped up in something I had never heard before. It was a shot of love via a thunderbolt from Texas.

Power Of Love.

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? WHERE THE F*** HAVE THEY BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

The band was King’s X. Ty Tabor, dUg Pinnick and Jerry Gaskill.

Good God, this band kicked our ass that day. And they still do to this day.

dUg, Ty and Jerry of King’s X changed the music playing field on that day for me, and if you read on, for a hell of a lot more people than you could ever imagine. King’s X was there name and they were about to take over the world.

Or so we thought…

Greg Prato is a Journalist that has written about some pretty famous bands. Pearl Jam, Primus, Queen, Iron Maiden and many more. If you look at the list of bands he has written about, it is full of heavyweights. I have read a few of his books and he really paints a great picture on the topic at hand. I would consider him a pretty darn good music journalist with a darn good knowledge of darn good bands.

Last February, he released King’s X: The Oral History.

Who?

Greg explains in the book that he is a huge King’s X fan. If you are a fan of King’s X, over the years, you find yourself trying to spread the Gospel of The Groove Machine any chance you get. Word of mouth, getting on the interwebs in message boards talking of their greatness or sharing music with friends. Any way possible to preach King’s X.

Greg kicked it up a notch in fantastic fashion by publishing a book. A well written and informative book on the band, the enigma that is King’s X.

I am barely a music reviewer, and even less of a book reviewer, but I would like to say a few things about the book and why you should buy it.

  1. It details in full how this band started something that most have credited to other bands. Bands that have become 100x bigger than King’s X. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam to name a few.
  2. It describes in detail every song the band has put out, where they came from lyrically, and how they recorded it. Pretty cool stuff if you are into music.
  3. There are quotes in this book from SO MANY OTHER MUSICIANS about the band King’s X and how they influenced them, it is really astonishing. This band was loved by so many musicians and influenced so many on how they create their art, that you will finish the book and say what every other King’s X fan has said hundreds of times: How are they not one of the biggest bands on earth???
  4. It details how this band year after year kept hitting it out of the park musically, but never got any credit or breaks needed to hit the big leagues.

Greg does a wonderful job sitting down with the boys and pulling out information on each song, each album and each moment in time the album came out. It details how horrible this bands luck has been. How they had a chance to grasp the golden ring and only to have someone tell them not to (Goldilox single) or they grabbed it and dropped it or it was just ripped from their hands. King’s X is the a-typical definition of “If we didn’t have bad luck, we wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

King’s X is summed up in one story. Luck into playing the headlining slot on the first night of Woodstock 2. 300,000 people rocked the fuck out to a massive live performance. Millions watching on MTV around the world, meaning millions tapped into the Groove Machine. Then, going on Jon Stewart’s late night show days later. Exposure like no band ever. Critics raving calling it the performance of Woodstock. The world is theirs for the taking… After all that, it led to nothing. Not a single bump in album sales. 350 albums sold that week after all that. How does that even happen? What the f***, seriously?

Jon Stewart knew the greatness of King’s X back in 1994

That is King’s X to a T.

Those stories and more are in this book. It is painful at times to read on all the bad luck this band has had put on them or created on their own. But then again, it is uplifting to see the boys continue on and create amazing music after being hit time and time again.

If you are not a King’s X fan, the book takes your through the life and times of a band that has endured the test of time while living paycheck to paycheck (or less) all the while the people that were so influenced by them were making millions. This is an underdog story that anyone would like to read.

If you are not a King’s X fan but a music fan, this is a good read to look into the life and times of a band in a very detailed way. From how bands get signed to how they get let go, forgotten, and cast away due to the slightest glitch in the system.

If you are a King’s X fan, this is a must read. Even though the typical King’s X fan knows a ton about them, there are still some details you may not know and appreciate reading about. It is also a great way to flash back to those songs and albums and listen along as you read. For the last week, I have been playing song after song by King’s X while reading.

Your mission, if you are willing to take it, is go on over to Amazon.com (or other favorite book store) and purchase Greg’s book, along with a King’s X album. If you want to go the path that I took, pick up Out Of The Silent Planet. 31 years old and could be released today and it will still be fresh. The band’s music is timeless. Or go with what many in the music industry consider one of the greatest albums of all time, Gretchen Goes to Nebraska.

Thanks to Greg for writing this book. As a fellow King’s X Fanboy (Bry who?), it is always great to hear from another fan of the band, and to have an official bio for the band we love is way cool.

Maybe this is the year for King’s X? If there is truly a new King’s X album coming this year, those quoted in this book need to stand up and sing their praises. Shout it from the rooftops. This book would be a perfect compliment to the new album when it finally does arrive.

“What is this that gives me hope in the middle of the night?” Makes me run to you? What is this, that lights my way through the hours of the day? Tell me that it’s you!”

Faith, Hope and Love,

Bry