Kingdom Come’s Rapid Rise To Fame And Subsequent Demise Explained
The success of a musician or a band usually hangs on a thread, as the media can negatively reshape their images and words, especially if it’s written press. A journalist may give a headline out of context to emphasize or create a scandalous point, which can immediately gather a reaction from the public, possibly clouding the artist’s image and work.
This is how things went approximately with Kingdom Come decades ago while they were still at the top of their game. Their rise to fame and success took damage because of a sarcastic comment made by one of the members in an interview, which was related to Led Zeppelin and taken out of context.
At the very beginning of the story, in 1987, Kingdom Come formed as a rock band by vocalist Lenny Wolf, bassist Johhny B. Frank, lead guitarist Danny Stag, rhythm guitarist Rick Steier, and drummer James Kottak. This original line-up set the world alight as soon as they came together, but unfortunately, they could maintain neither their success nor their integrity.
The first time Kingdom Come was formed was the only time all the original members were on the same team. The band had no constant members throughout its history, and the names involved with it were constantly subjected to change, as new musicians were recruited every time they returned from hiatus. This probably was one of the main reasons why they could not preserve the success they achieved with their first release.
At the start of their career, the band members set to work as soon as possible and released their first album called ‘Kingdom Come’ in 1988. The debut received an immense amount of attention and admiration from the public, especially with the single, ‘Get It On,’ which became the most-requested song on AOR stations for six weeks at its release.
The album became platinum in no time, and the band got chosen to open Monsters of Rock Tour 1988, supporting bands like Dokken, Scorpions, and Metallica. They were also recruited by Scorpions as a support for their ‘Savage Amusement Tour,’ and everything seemed to go well until the critics’ claims about Kingdom Come’s style got more heated and intense.
The band’s sound resembled that of Led Zeppelin, and this situation attracted attention, which caused them to be accused of ripping the latter’s style off. Although they thought it was flattering to be compared with Zeppelin, Kingdom Come members became gradually displeased with these remarks because the intensity of accusations was rising with each new comment.
Finally, a counter remark came from the band’s guitarist, Danny Stag, who was fed up with the questions regarding Led Zeppelin. According to Lenny Wolf’s 2011 interview with The Great Southern Brainfart, Stag was overheard by a press member while saying something about the band’s guitarist, Jimmy Page, which was taken out of context and made its way into the headlines.
The band’s former vocalist stated that the story went as follows:
“In the beginning, we took it as a compliment, then all of the sudden some press person overheard Danny saying, ‘Who’s Jimmy Page?’ He was saying it out of context like, ‘Oh no, not this question again.’ so [the magazine] printed that one line: ‘Kingdome Come guitarist announces he’s never heard of Jimmy Page.'”
After this incident, they tried to ignore the negative feedback and continue their journey as before. They presented their second album, ‘In Your Face,’ to the public, achieving almost as big a success as the first time; however, their endeavors were not helpful because Kingdom Come abruptly disbanded in 1989 due to personal reasons.
Everyone went their ways, but Lenny Wolf did not give up on the band until 2016. He created new line-ups a few times, released new projects, and performed with the band a few times. Still, the band could never reach the same heights as before, and Wolf grew tired two years after Stag and Frank returned to the band.
After the vocalist’s departure, the band went on a hiatus again, only to return with the four original members and Keith St. John replacing Wolf. They have been active since then; however, they won’t be able to release any new records due to the unsolved problems between the band and the former frontman, as John stated in a 2021 interview with Mental Asylum.
To explain why Kingdom Come did not produce new material, he stated:
“I can say this: we’ve been writing new material. Danny Stag lives in Pittsburgh; Johnny B. Frank lives in Jacksonville, Florida, so those guys write things on their own and kind of do it and send stuff over. And then the rest of us are here kind of in the L.A. area. So Rick Steier and I gather, and occasionally with James, and write riffs. And we’ve got a ton of ideas. We’re just not sure what the future is with the name of the band, as much as if we’re gonna have to alter the band name a little bit to move ahead with new music or if it’s gonna get worked out so that we can just be Kingdom Come official and release as Kingdom Come. So that’s an issue that hasn’t been worked out yet, to my knowledge. Either way, the band wants to put out stuff. We’re writing stuff. Everybody in the band is chomping at the bit to release some stuff. For me, that would be the icing on the cake for me ’cause it solidifies us as a band by writing new stuff. So, hopefully — hopefully, yeah.”
So, Kingdom Come fell victim to media representation stemming from the resemblance between Led Zeppelin and their music styles. If they could resist the press for longer, they could’ve preserved their initial success and integrity until the end, but things did not go as planned for them. After a huge success, the band continued its career with moderate attention. Hopefully, one day, they will return with a new win.