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Date Formed Apr/1985

Categories: Black Metal, Heavy Metal


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In April 1985 cult Copenhagen Satanic Metal band MERCYFUL FATE finally split and enigmatic vocalist King Diamond (a.k.a. Kim Bendix Petersen) regrouped with MERCYFUL FATE guitarist Michael Denner and bassist Timi G. Hansen (formerly known as Timi Grabber) with a new band centred around his own stage personality KING DIAMOND. The other original band members were ex-NADIR and GEISHA drummer Mikkey Dee (real name Delaoglou) and guitarist Floyd Konstandin, the latter being superseded by former TRAFALGER guitarist Andy LaRocque. This new recruit would cement a position and King's longstanding collaborator, being the only point of stability alongside the singer throughout the band history.

KING DIAMOND's opening product was somewhat of a strange entry, the 12" single 'No Presents For Christmas' launched on Christmas day 1985, the cover depicting King in full make up with Rudolf the red nosed reindeer peering over his shoulder.

King opted to concentrate his efforts mainly on North America, where MERCYFUL FATE had built a strong and loyal following. The debut album, 'Fatal Portrait' produced by Rune Höyer and issued in February 1986 through Roadrunner Records, echoed heavily his former band but with the satanic element stripped out and emphasis placed on overblown horror theatrics. 'Fatal Portrait' landed impressively at number 33 on the Swedish charts. 'Fatal Portrait' hung on a story involving the return of a spirit named Molly, a young girl imprisoned in an attic. The lyrical shift was a wise one as King had been previously been exposed for his completely naive lack of understanding of Satanism and the occult themes that peppered the lyrics of MERCYFUL FATE.

King had fallen into the trap of getting involved in a conversation with 'Kerrang!' magazine journalist Dave Dickson on the subject of Aleister Crowley and Magick for which, according to the interview that saw print, he had few answers. Allegedly an ardent follower of Crowley's philosophies and supposed Satanic practices (he was quick to claim responsibility for the 'demon' that electrocuted GIRLSCHOOL's Kim McAullife), King fell victim to someone who had recently taken a few widely available quotes inviting King to comment. King's credibility never really recovered in the eyes of the European media.

The second KING DIAMOND album, 'Abigail' released in June 1987, was self-produced and cut at Sound Track Studios in Copenhagen. Musically the band was now beginning to distance itself from the former act, especially in the technical proficiency of the guitar department. The record themed upon the tale of the character of the same name, the ghost of a mummified bastard child murdered by Count de La Fey on July the 7th, 1777. Following recording of 'Abigail' Michael Denner left due to feeling the pressure of being constantly on the road and was swiftly replaced with ex-MADISON guitarist Michael 'Moon' Myllynen.

'Abigail' was toured around America with Chicago Christian Doom Metal band TROUBLE then undertook 15 shows in Germany opening for MOTÖRHEAD as well as headline shows. The hard graft of touring paid off and in America 'Abigail' reached number 123 in the Billboard charts selling over 150'000 copies.

Prior to recording next album 'Them' ("Them" being a particularly malevolent body of spirits), KING DIAMOND relocated to Los Angeles in order to have a realistic crack at the American market. The band also replaced Myllynen and Timi Hansen with ex-GEISHA guitarist Pete Blakk (Peter Jacobsson) and bassist Hal Patino.

'Them', another conceptual affair, saw the light of day in July 1988 and bolstered the continuing success of KING DIAMOND in America by charting in the Billboard top 100, but touring plans were initially shelved to allow the band to contribute soundtrack music to the horror movie 'Boggs'. A quick fire EP was issued in October entitled 'The Dark Sides'. Intended to keep the KING DIAMOND name in the public eye, the EP also caught the attention of KISS singer GENE SIMMONS. The famous fire-breathing frontman objected to King's face paint, claiming it was too close to his patented visage, which was known to millions across the world. An out of court settlement was reached and King was obliged to alter his design.

Following the recording of 'Them' drummer Mickey Dee quit later to work with DON DOKKEN and WWIII before landing a permanent stay in MOTÖRHEAD. He was replaced with San Franciscan Chris Whitemyer, previously drum tech for WHITESNAKE's Tommy Aldridge, although the next record, October 1989's 'Conspiracy', which continued the plot of 'Them' beckoned in another drummer in Swedish native Snowy Shaw. With production credits being shared between the esteemed Chris Tsangarides, Andy LaRocque and Roberto Falcao, again KING DIAMOND maintained their presence on the US charts. Shaw (real name Tommy Helgesson) would later record with MEMENTO MORI in addition to joining King in a reformation of MERCYFUL FATE.

More line-up changes befell the group shortly after recording October 1990's 'The Eye'. The story for this set of tracks hinged on a time transporting pendant worm by executed witch Jeanne Dibasson. All percussion on this outing, despite the band having Snowy Shaw in the studio, were assembled using a drum machine. Once the album was finalised both Blakk and Patino were shown the door, the ousted guitarist duly forging TOTEM, and KING DIAMOND drafted guitar player Mike Wead, of HEXENHAUS, MEMENTO MORI and ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA, and bassist Sharlee D'Angelo (a.k.a Charles Andreason).

The continuous flux in band personnel and increasing friction with their record company came to a head and King ended his long term association with Roadrunner Records with the 'In Concert 1987 - Abigail Live' album in 1991. Around the turn of the decade King chose to reform MERCYFUL FATE, bowing back in with an August 1993 album 'In The Shadows' followed by 'Time' in October 1994. From this juncture onwards, Diamond led a public double life, alternating between both KING DIAMOND and MERCYFUL FATE albums and tours.

The singer then switched back to KING DIAMOND, adding a new complement of band members for the comeback affair entitled 'The Spider's Lullaby' in June 1995, this effort having been laid down the previous September at Sound Lab Studios in Dallas, Texas. 'The Spider's Lullaby' found Diamond weaving a tale placed in Devil Lake Sanitarium, involving treatment for insanity by spider bite. An all American rhythm section was delegated for these sessions, ex-ATROX and MINDSTORM bassist Chris Estes and MINDSTORM drummer Darrin Anthony.

The album proved a solid success, gaining chart places in Sweden, Denmark and Finland and was the first for new label Massacre Records. Nevertheless, MERCYFUL FATE was still being operated in paralell, putting out 'Into The Unknown' in August 1996 with a further record KING DIAMOND record appearing just weeks later in September. Entitled 'The Graveyard', this touched on the taboo of incest and related the woes of a lunatic seeking sanctuary in a cemetery, and was once again constructed at Sound Lab Studios in Dallas.

Estes and Anthony were re-employed whilst new face guitar player Herb Simonsen handled guitar. In late 1997, Roadrunner Records re-issued the KING DIAMOND back catalogue in re-mastered form, with some albums featuring additional bonus tracks. Both 'The Eye' and 'Live In Europe '87' were also re-mastered but do not have any additional material added. Shaw, D'Angelo and La Rocque ventured into outside activity by founding ILLWILL releasing a 1998 album. Both Shaw and D'Angelo had also worked with Gothenburg Psych Rockers WHIPPED CREAM.

February 1998's 'Voodoo' album, another horror conceptual effort, saw King and LaRocque, who, in the interim, had produced the debut album by Sweden's MIDVINTER during 1997, joined by second guitarist Herb Simonson, bassist Chris Estes and CHASTAIN credited drummer John Luke Herbert. The latter had superseded Darrin Anthony, the former member put out of action due to a serious car accident. 'Voodoo' had started life under a working title of 'The Plague' but was then steered towards the black magic of the US Southern states by the research of Chris Estes. PANTERA guitarist Dimebag Darrell notably lent a ripping lead solo to the title track. The band added Canadian guitarist Glen Drover from the highly rated EIDOLON for tour work across the USA in April and May 1998. In chameleon like fashion, King then diverted his attention to the next MERCYFUL FATE offering, 'Dead Again', launched in June. MERCYFUL FATE captured King's attention into the following year too with the '9' album. King Diamond put in a rare guest appearance for Chicago Death Metal combo USURPER, appearing on the title track of their album 'Necronemesis'.

Drover, plus new bass player Dave Harbour, would subsequently appear on the June 2000 KING DIAMOND album 'House Of God', these tracks conceived at Nomad Recording Studio in Carollton, Texas. Former bassist Hal Patino then returned to the ranks in 2000 ousting David Harbour.

With KING DIAMOND signing to the Metal Blade label for European releases former label Massacre Records were quick to issue a compilation entitled 'Nightmare In The Nineties'. The King would contribute guest vocals to FOO FIGHTERS man Dave Grohl's Metal elite PROBOT project album of 2001, vocalising on the song 'Sweet Dreams'.

Continued fascination with the King inspired the Metal Blade release of 'King Diamond & Black Rose 20 Years Ago (A Night Of Rehearsal)', an archive collection of unedited live demo tracks from one of Diamond's earliest acts BLACK ROSE. With the inclusion of a GOLDEN EARRING cover, 'Radar Love', the album displayed King's formative Blues Rock roots giving intrigued die hard fans a rare chance to hear the singer in regular voice minus his trademark falsetto.

2002 proved an eventful year for KING DIAMOND with a rare admission from an artist that album sales were on a downturn. The band landed the blame squarely on downloading and advised fans they would be recording a new album entitled 'The Puppet Master' at King's home studio to save on recording costs. According to initial reports from the band 'The Puppet Master', a conceptual horror piece set against a background of Budapest, was set to be the most controversial KING DIAMOND outing yet.

A band offshoot later that same year witnessed a union of bassist Hal Patino with MERCYFUL FATE man MICHAEL DENNER founding a solo band for the guitarist comprising former MERCYFUL FATE drummer Morten Nielsen, vocalist Jesper Harrits and second guitarist Carsten Volsing, a man with an apparent 'early' MERCYFUL FATE history. Patino subsequently allied himself with MERCYFUL FATE guitarist Hank Shermann and drummer Bjarne T. Holm for a further band project and demos.

Andy LaRocque contributed two lead guitar breaks to EIDOLON's 2003 album 'Apostles Of Defiance'. Upfront of an October album 'The Puppet Master' KING DIAMOND, with Matt Thompson of AUTUMN SILENCE, SHAOLIN DEATH SQUAD and BAT CASTLE on the drums, returned to touring in North America, bolstered by guests ENTOMBED, NOCTURNE and SINGLE BULLET THEORY. Drummer Thompson then hooked up with SINGLE BULLET THEORY as a sessioneer on their 2004 album. Meantime, KING DIAMOND prepared a long overdue live album 'Deadly Lullabies Live', mixed at guitarist Andy LaRocque's Los Angered studio outside Gothenburg. September saw the announcement that ex-KING DIAMOND guitarist Glen Drover had entered the big league by joining MEGADETH.

KING DIAMOND scheduled US tour dates for April of 2005 in alliance with NILE, Poles BEHEMOTH and Detroit's THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER. European gigs in Italy and Spain would be scheduled for April and May of 2006. Support would be allocated to LOCH VOSTOK and SECRET SPHERE filling in on Scandinavian dates with GRIFFIN and THUNDERBOLT as openers in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Greece, Spain and Italy. The concert at the Kåren venue in Gothenburg, Sweden on April 21st proved memorable when MOTÖRHEAD drummer Mikkey Dee, KING DIAMOND's original skinsman, performed 'Halloween' during the encore.

Fresh album recordings would be conducted at both LaRocque's Los Angered Recording studio in Gothenburg and in Dallas, Texas throughout June. Meantime, the KING DIAMOND credited Mike Wead, Hal Patino and Snowy Shaw announced Progressive Doom outfit FIREGOD, a Swedish / Danish collaboration also involving guitarist Simon Johannsson, of MEMORY GARDEN, ABSTRAKT ALGEBRA, DEAD END WORLD and FIFTH REASON.

In a surprise move, Snowy Shaw was named the new lead singer in leading Operatic Metal band THERION in October 2006. In December it was revealed that Andy LaRocque had teamed up with HAMMERFALL bassist Magnus Rosén, TIN MACHINE guitarist Reeves Gabrels and PAGAN'S MIND vocalist Nils K.Rue in a new new project called X-WORLD/5. Drums were handled by the mysterious 'Big Swede'. Also announced in December 2006, Stockholm Punk band FUKK comprised Snowy Shaw on drums, singer Jensara Swann plus guitarist Irina, ex-MARDUK vocalist Legion's wife, and bass player Gothness.

In February 2007 it was announced that Mike Wead had joined forces with a brand new, melodic Death Metal inclined project called KRYPTILLUSION. Kristofer Nilsson of UNDIVINE handled lead vocals whilst Stefan Westerberg, of IN THY DREAMS, STEEL ATTACK, WORLD BELOW, ASPERITY and CARNAL FORGE, featured on drums and Fredrik Groth from THE STORYTELLER assumed bass duties.

That March King Diamond revealed the new KING DIAMOND album was to be titled 'Gimme Your Soul ... Please'.

In July 2009 two newly recorded versions of 'Evil' and 'Curse Of The Pharaohs' were issued as a picture disc 12" vinyl single through Metal Blade Records in the USA and Massacre Records in Germany. 'Evil' was also featured on the Activision game 'Guitar Hero: Metallica', this also novelly including an animated character appearance from King Diamond himself.

The albums 'Spider's Lullabye', 'The Graveyard', 'Voodoo', and 'House Of God' were all re-mastered by Andy LaRocque for re-release in October and November 2009. These editions hosted bonus live tracks.

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