MusicMight





In Association with Amazon.com
Musicians | Biography | Discography | Links

DOKKEN

Current Members

Past Members

Live Session Members

Biography

A hard edged Melodic Rock unit that despite a constantly fluctuating line-up has remained steadfast in their international status. The band's ability to pen finely crafted yet aggressive Rock tunes has generated a string of charting platinum albums in America and fostered a loyal fan base worldwide. Fronted and named after singer DON DOKKEN the band has a reputation for employing lead guitarists of repute such as GEORGE LYNCH, JOHN NORUM and REB BEACH.

Vocalist DON DOKKEN, whose career in Hard Rock began with AIRBORNE, first came to prominence with his appearance as backing vocalist on the 1982 SCORPIONS album 'Blackout' at the invitation of producer Dieter Dierks. There was some talk that the American vocalist was going to actually replace SCORPIONS vocalist Klaus Meine at the time. The German frontman was having a great deal of problems with his vocal chords, however, the truth is that Don was to provide the guide vocals, enabling Meine to rest his throat. Working closely with Dierks enabled Dokken to use studio time around the SCORPIONS project to lay down demos which would secure a contract with Carrere Records.

Dokken, having been based on and off in Germany since the late '70s and had worked the clubs with a variety of American musicians. DOKKEN's first line up in 1978 consisting of Dokken, bassist Juan Croucier and drummer Greg Pecka, the latter being replaced by Gary Holland who would go on to DANTE FOX, GREAT WHITE and BRITTON. Pre-DOKKEN, Juan Croucier had been involved with a succession of acts such as a dubious version of SPIKE, JEWEL, Bobby Blotzer's FIREFOXX, IRON BUTTERFLY and the VIC VERGAT band.

Other early members included bassists Jeff Tappen and Gary Link. Ex-QUIET RIOT and DUBROW guitarist Greg Leon also played a role before he went on to form GREG LEON INVASION for two albums before liaisons with ROUGH CUTT and MARSHALL LAW.

Whilst in America Dokken had involved himself in songwriting with XCITER and THE BOYZ guitarist GEORGE LYNCH and, returning to Germany, found that one of these songs 'Paris Is Burning', together with 'I Can't See You Anymore' from DOKKEN's first demo, had elicited strong record company response. Lynch had at the time also been earmarked as a possible contender to join OZZY OSBOURNE's new solo band. However, although Ozzy's scout bassist Dana Strum (later of SLAUGHTER) contacted THE BOYZ manager the message was not relayed in turn to Lynch. Missing out on the audition the position went to Randy Rhoads.

By now DOKKEN had within the ranks Lynch's ex-XCITER and THE BOYZ colleague Mick Brown on drums, so naturally an invitation was offered to Lynch. DOKKEN's two new recruits' musical history could be traced back as far as Lynch's first ever band TUNGUS GROOVE and Brown in SGT. ROXX.

Returning to Germany they undertook a tour of Germany with THE ROY LAST GROUP and issued a Drake Levin produced single in 1979 'Hard Luck Woman' limited to 500 copies. Demos were cut utilising the services of RATT drummer Bobby Blotzer and bassist Tom Croucier, brother of Juan and a later member of LIFE BY NIGHT and AIR PAVILION. These tapes led to the studio deal with Dierks studios.

Major label Elektra were quick to secure the band and as a prelude to new product re-released the Carrere debut, released in 1981, with a remixed, re-shuffled track listing which included a live version of 'Paris Is Burning' in 1984.

With a glut of promising talent emerging from the Los Angeles scene in the early 80's, DOKKEN, debuting with an inaugural gig at Hollywood's Starwood club, were to stand out, blessed with a number of impressive factors in Dokken's smooth vocal and sense of melody allied to Lynch's surgically precise guitar work. DOKKEN are one of the few bands able to combine quality songwriting with a blend of uncompromising aggression and layered harmonies.

No doubt having learnt greatly from Dieter Dierks, once back in the States Don Dokken would also create a neat sideline for himself in production, GREAT WHITE's 'Out Of The Night' debut offering in 1982 to the world being one such project. Dokken was also to twiddle the knobs on SEXIST's 'Fire And Wind' contribution to the 1983 'Metal Massacre III' compilation album.

With 'Breaking The Chains' now officially released in America DOKKEN set out on the touring circuit opening for ALDO NOVA and BLUE ÖYSTER CULT prior to a batch of club headliners. The band scored what appeared to be an invaluable guest slot on RAINBOW's December 1983 American tour but lasted only a few shows, allegedly because Ritchie Blackmore was finding the competition from Lynch too hot to handle. The same year gave Lynch another stab at the vacant guitarist position with OZZY OSBOURNE. Once more tipped by Dana Strum, Lynch auditioned and was told he had secured the job. His elation was short-lived as a late arrival for the auditions, Jake E. Lee, beat him in the final analysis.

Three years on from the original release of 'Breaking The Chains' by Carrere, a revamped DOKKEN appeared with 'Tooth And Nail' in 1984. Croucier had since joined Los Angeles compatriots RATT, so, upon a suggestion from Shrapnel Records boss Mike Varney, in came ex ROCK JUSTICE and RANDY HANSEN bassist Jeff Pilson. With ROCK JUSTICE Pilson had released the 'Hard Rock Woman' 7" single in 1979 and had played on the project's sole album release. Road work to push 'Tooth And Nail' in the USA saw a lengthy support stint to DIO, lasting from November 1984 into January 1985.

DOKKEN secured the valuable guest slot for JUDAS PRIEST's 1986 'Turbo' tour in America and while the British metal legends were pulling the majority of the crowds it was the youthful drive of DOKKEN that was selling more records as 'Under Lock And Key' surpassed the million sales mark with ease. DOKKEN also opened up for TWISTED SISTER's American arena tour to find that the headliner's appeal had waned somewhat.

Despite DOKKEN's burgeoning status the band were assailed by media rumours of the band's impending doom due to supposed internal friction. These stories were to dog the band throughout their career.

Buoyed by 'Under Lock And Key's soaring platinum status 'Back For The Attack' saw DOKKEN's highest American chart placing so far peaking at number 13 as the band gained the honours of opening for AEROSMITH's American tour as the year drew to a close. The album, although produced by Neal Kernon once more, was this time mixed by the renowned duo Michael Barberio and Steve Thompson.

DOKKEN appeared in Britain in 1986 opening for ACCEPT. Even to the audience there appeared to be a great deal of friction on stage between Don and George amidst rumours that Lynch was about to be replaced by ex HOLLAND man Michael Angelo. Lynch remained steadfastly silent about the whole affair but did surface as a guest on TONY MACALPINE's 'Maximum Security' album the same year.

DOKKEN guested for AC/DC in Britain during 1988. The band also featured as part of the American touring package 'Monsters of rock' alongside VAN HALEN, SCORPIONS and METALLICA, although the double live package 'Beast From The East' was, as the title suggests, recorded whilst DOKKEN were on a successful tour of Japan.

In 1989 the German label Repertoire released a cash-in album of demo tracks and early live recordings from 1979 at the Souls club in Hamburg, recorded by one of the earliest incarnations of the band during DOKKEN's pre-Carrere stint in Germany. Neither Lynch, Pilson or Brown appear on the cover, although early drummer Gary Holland (later to join GREAT WHITE) does.

The relationship between Dokken and the rest of the band had by this time deteriorated to the point of no return and the break up of the band was almost inevitable.

DON DOKKEN formed a new band around himself that included former EUROPE guitarist JOHN NORUM and ex WATCHTOWER guitarist BILLY WHITE with ACCEPT's Peter Baltes on bass in order to record the 'Up From The Ashes' album for Geffen in 1990.

Lynch and Brown formed LYNCH MOB together with ex FERRARI vocalist Oni Logan and bassist Anthony Esposito releasing a brace of albums, the second with ex SILENT WITNESS vocalist Robert Mason.

Pilson, meantime, put WAR AND PEACE together with ex WARLOCK guitarist Tommy Hendricksen and DEEP FREEZE drummer Ricky Parent.

Dokken's original intention for his new band had been to simply continue with the DOKKEN name, but the singer was prevented from doing so when Lynch, Pilson and Brown promptly filed a law suit preventing him from doing so. Thus creating the rather unusual situation of a musician being unable to use his own surname!

Pilson was soon engaged playing bass for DIO for their 'Strange Highways' album in 1993 before a deal for WAR AND PEACE arrived and the release of the 'Time Capsule' album on Shrapnel Records in 1994. Then, in between touring and recording commitments, the bassist working on a Progressive Rock band project with drummer Tim Patterson, ex GIUFFRIA / DIO guitarist CRAIG GOLDY, and former WARRANT keyboard player Scott Warren during 1993 although nothing would appear to have come from this liaison. Pilson sang on Goldy's subsequent 'Insufficient Therapy' album on Shrapnel issued in 1994.

Dokken, following a split with his solo group, was at one stage reported to have been talking to RATT's Warren DeMartini about collaborating together.

In 1993 Lynch broke off from band activities to record a solo album -originally titled 'Erotica Hypnotica' - and featuring contributions from the NELSON twins, GLENN HUGHES, ex BLACK SABBATH singer RAY GILLEN, Jeff Pilson and WORLD WAR III's Mandy Lion.

The album eventually emerged under the title of 'Sacred Groove' and followed the almost inevitable break up of LYNCH MOB.

At the time LYNCH MOB broke up a reunion with DOKKEN was discussed, but, whilst Mick Brown teamed up with Don Dokken once more Lynch chose to pursue his solo project.

Following the album's release Lynch planned to work with ex LIFE, SEX AND DEATH bassist Bill E. Gar and W.A.S.P. / L.A. GUNS drummer Steven Riley, but little happened with this project.

In 1994, following interest from the lucrative Japanese market, DOKKEN buried their differences and reformed the band, producing the extremely promising 'Dokken' album. In 1995 the album would be issued in America with a reshuffled track listing and with the addition of two newer songs.

A mainly acoustic live album, 'One Live Night', was released in 1996 celebrating the successful reunion of the band.

Pilson took time out to record the 1996 DIO album 'Angry Machines', but was back in the fold for 1997's somewhat muted 'Shadowlife' on new label C.M.C. International. In the interim both Dokken and Pilson put in a guest appearance on the self titled DREAMCASTLE album in 1997. Pilson also took up touring duties with DIO.

A horrific episode came close to completely shelving the band's plans when Don's dog suddenly turned on his master of many years savaging his face. The singer required over 150 stitches but recovered in time for live work.

Although a package tour with the reformed line-ups of RATT and CINDERELLA was planned DOKKEN chose to tour America on their own before venturing to Japan and then returning to America to tour with ALICE COOPER.

'Shadowlife' was an album that reflected the changing shifts in musical tastes in America, DOKKEN coming over all contemporary, no doubt partially a result of working with producer Kelly Gray. Recorded during the summer of 1996, the tracks were recorded in Phoenix, the album had originally been tentatively titled 'Syzygy' (the near straight line of three celestial bodies in a gravitational system) until choosing 'Shadowlife', the original working title of the album track 'Hello'.

Although 'Shadowlife' revived the band name it's musical content left many fans feeling they deserved better. Dokken himself was to slam the album later in interviews.

In addition to DOKKEN Lynch was still attempting to keep some form of a side project together with Brown, hooking up with ex LYNCH MOB vocalist Oni Logan once more to work on material with interest from a Japanese label.

Pilson took a diversion into the Pop world by forging A BETTER MOUSETRAP with his partner Tim Petersson. Dokken meanwhile kept his options open too by recording solo material consisting of acoustic versions of JIMI HENDRIX songs.

By the October of 1997 the old friction between Dokken and Lynch had returned, the guitarist opting out and the group thus toured through America with ENUFF Z' NUFF and PRETTY BOY FLOYD taking ex EUROPE guitarist JOHN NORUM with them. The Swede was, of course, no stranger to Don Dokken as he had played in Don's solo group following the original split.

Meantime, back together with Oni Logan, LYNCH MOB issued the three track 'Syzygy' EP before settling on all new band members.

Don meanwhile pulled in ex ALICE COOPER / WINGER guitarist REB BEACH and set about laying down a fresh DOKKEN record. When 'Erase The Slate' emerged it was quickly heralded as a return to the band's former glory. Despite a cover of THREE DOG NIGHT's 'One' overall the album was a much tougher effort than previous albums and gave ample evidence of Beach's virtuosity.

DOKKEN also got media exposure but from an unusual source when Teen band MICKEY MOUSE CLUB covered 'In My Dreams' but put a dance twist on it. German bands also got in on the act with VANDEN PLAS faithfully covering 'Kiss Of Death' and SEVEN WISHES offering their take on 'Unchain The Night'.

DOKKEN toured America in the summer of 2000 sharing a billing with POISON, CINDERELLA and SLAUGHTER. Pilson got into the movies in 2000 appearing as the bassist in Mark Wahlberg's fictitious STEEL DRAGON in the movie 'Metal God' (later revised to 'Rock Star'). The bassist also acted as musical director for the project.

Pilson, alongside 'band' members Wahlberg as vocalist, OZZY OSBOURNE / BLACK LABEL SOCIETY guitarist ZAKK WYLDE and BONHAM drummer Jason Bonham, would grace the big screen in 2001 playing the drums for the fictitious STEEL DRAGON. With a combination of musicians that strong the lure to record STEEL DRAGON material for the movie was irresistible and the subsequent 'Rock Star' soundtrack CD duly featured six STEEL DRAGON tracks with Pilson performing.

JEFF PILSON worked on a solo album in 2000 with SCORPIONS/ KRUNK drummer James Kottak and found time for yet another side project entitled UNDERGROUND MOON in alliance with TOMMY HENRIKSON. Dokken teamed up with ex-MR. BIG guitarist PAUL GILBERT to record the soundtrack for a Japanese cartoon series.

Meantime, as REB BEACH regrouped with his former band mates for a fresh WINGER opus as well as releasing his debut solo album 'Masquerade' during 2001 his vacancy left in the DOKKEN ranks would be filled by the familiar face of JOHN NORUM.

For DOKKEN's July 9th performance at the 'Sweden Rocks' festival the band witnessed Norum alongside new bassist Mikkee D. As Pilson confirmed via his personal website that there were unspecified difficulties within the DOKKEN camp Don Dokken announced that erstwhile YNGWIE MALMSTEEN and MICHAEL SCHENKER GROUP bassist BARRY SPARKS- presently a member of COSMOSQUAD- had filled the vacancy. Pilson though would soon reveal news of great interest to DOKKEN fans when a collaboration with GEORGE LYNCH was underway. This new band, after requesting suggestions for a band title from fans, eventually settled on the succinct handle of L/P.

The new look DOKKEN, announcing a new album title of 'Long Way From Home', got to grips with road work with a burst of American dates commencing at the Thunder Dome in Baltimore, Maryland on the 27th December. Japanese versions of the album would not only include a different mix of the track 'Little Girl' but no less than three bonus tracks in 'Dancin', 'Only Heaven Knows' and 'Let It Be True'. Some U.S. variants came clad in a 'clean' sleeve, the angel depicted on the cover having a makeshift airbrushed cloak over her previously bare midriff. What fans would learn later was that much of the softer material on the album was originally intended for use on a proposed DON DOKKEN solo record.

DOKKEN would be back on the road during the summer of 2002 as headliners of the 'Metal Edge Rockfest' tour. Kicking off on June 20th at the West Fargo, North Dakota Red River Valley Fair the two month long string of dates found the band on a co-billing with L.A. GUNS, RATT, FIREHOUSE and WARRANT. The success afforded the first leg of these shows would see this tour commencing a second round of gigs in Seattle on August 7th, eventually stretching out to mid September.

It seemed as though trouble had hit the ranks once again though as Norum pulled out mid term into a European tour, the official explanation being given that the guitarist had injured his arm when an amp fell on it. DOKKEN swiftly pulled in Italian guitarist ALEX DE ROSSO, previously with HOT HONEY, DARK LORD and S.R.B., as replacement at the Bochum, Germany show to fulfill their schedule. It would also transpire that former member REB BEACH had been asked back to replace Norum but that his WINGER schedule conflicted.

The band's 'Rock Fest 2002' tour, whilst pulling in the crowds, created a further set of predictable tensions. Allegations of a physical altercation between Dokken and Brown toward the close of these dates would see the sudden exit of the longstanding drummer. Subsequently the group performed a show in Tucson, Arizona with L.A. GUNS bass player Adam Hamilton filling in on drums. The tour's projected final homecoming date in Los Angeles was cancelled.

In mid 2002 GEORGE LYNCH revealed details of a new solo album comprising reworks of tracks from his career to date. Featured were set to be remakes of DOKKEN and LYNCH MOB songs with DOKKEN and LYNCH/PILSON bassist Jeff Pilson vocalising on the DOKKEN songs whilst Robert Mason handled the LYNCH MOB material. Anthony Esposito took on bass and LYNCH/PILSON drummer Fro also involved.

In November Pilson filed lawsuits against both Don Dokken and Mick Brown in an attempt to dissolve their musical and financial partnership. Meantime DOKKEN, seemingly with REB BEACH back onboard, revealed tour plans set for January of 2003 in alliance with the heavyweight combination of WHITESNAKE and the SCORPIONS. In an interesting move former DOKKEN guitarist REB BEACH was announced as having joined the WHITESNAKE line-up for this tour.

By August Don Dokken announced a fresh DOKKEN album 'Hell To Pay' was in the works in collaboration with former DORO guitarist John Levin. Upon its arrival, the record sold 3,735 copies in its first week of release, according to Nielsen SoundScan, a far cry from the glory days. DOKKEN bassist BARRY SPARKS also made time to cut his solo album 'Can't Look Back'. Meantime, Jeff Pilson's April 2004 WAR AND PEACE album 'The Walls Have Eyes' released through Z Records saw European variants adding a version of DOKKEN's 'Walk Away' performed with a string quartet.

GEORGE LYNCH revealed that in early 2005 a deal was brokered to reunite the Dokken / Lynch / Pilson / Brown partnership involving a label deal with Warner Bros. and a VH1 television special with a major national tour. Apparently the union did not transpire due to "internal issues". Soldiering on, UK gigs for DOKKEN in April saw DOUBLE CROSS lending support. In the Summer Mick Brown hooked up with TED NUGENT's band for live work. In August the rumour mill sparked up yet again concerning a reunion of the classic line-up as it was confirmed that Dokken and Lynch were in negotiations despite Jeff Pilson's commitments to road work with FOREIGNER.

In 2005 DON DOKKEN signed up for the 'Acoustic Outcasts' US tour alongside KEEL and STEELER frontman Ron Keel, XYZ's Terry Ilous and KELLY KEELING. However, he would pull out of these shows, switching his allegiance to a similar tour venture organised by VH1. The band DOKKEN reportedly spent studio time re-recording classic tracks with the up to date Dokken / Levin / Sparks / Brown roster, announcing they were to give the songs a "21st century" update. Fans of previous eras would be satisfied too though as GEORGE LYNCH's 'Anthology' collection through Cleopatra included six archive DOKKEN cuts in 'Going Under', 'Cry Again', live versions of 'In The Middle', 'Lost Behind The Wall' and 'Turn On The Action' plus an unreleased 'Shadowlife' cut 'When The Good Die Young'.

DOKKEN bassist Barry Sparks embarked on a brief US West Coast tour in April 2006 to support his solo album 'Can't Look Back'. DOKKEN, comprising Don Dokken, Jon Levin, Barry Sparks and Mick Brown, signed to the Italian Frontiers label in October for Europe and Rhino Records for the USA. The first product from this new business arrangement came with an archive live CD 'From Conception: Live 1981' issued in March 2007. Recorded pre-'Breaking The Chains' by singer Don Dokken, guitarist George Lynch, drummer Mick Brown and bassist Jeff Pilson this set included three previously unreleased tracks, 'Goin' Down', 'Hit And Run' and 'Liar'.

A stripped down acoustic version of 'In My Dreams' was contributed to the 'VH1 Metal Mania Stripped Volume 3' compilation album issued through Sidewinder Music in March 2007. That July the band appeared at a once in a lifetime gathering of 80s Rock acts dubbed 'Rocklahoma', a three-day outdoor festival held in Pryor, Oklahoma, sharing the billing with RATT, VINCE NEIL, WARRANT, SLAUGHTER, QUIET RIOT, WINGER, POISON, JACKYL, FASTER PUSSYCAT, ENUFF Z'NUFF, STEELHEART, 36 INCHES, Y&T, FIREHOUSE, BULLETBOYS, BANG TANGO and GREAT WHITE.

DOKKEN toured Europe in May 2009, including Norwegian dates opening for WHITESNAKE. US headline dates followed throughout June and July.

Garry Sharpe-Young

Copyright Musicdetector Websites 2009