hen Mercyful Fate split into two camps in 1986, vocalist King Diamond (Real Name: Kim Bandix Petersen; ex-Brainstorm/ex-Back Rose; ex-Brats; born on June 14th 1956) with Michael Denner (guitar; ex-Brats) and Timi Hansen (bass) decided to make satanic occult and horror movie styled heavy metal music, while the former outfit continued on with their more mainstream direction. By this time Petersen had already established his image using face makeup since seeing the Alice Cooper show Welcome To My Nightmare back in 1975.
Mercyful Fate, to that point under the direction of Hank Shermann (guitar), Michael Denner (guitar), Kim Ruzz (drums) and Timi Grabber Hansen (bass), along with "Diamond" himself, released the self-titled mini-LP in (1982), along with the albums Melissa and Don't Break The Oath (1984). For his part, King Diamond's music became known for its high-pitched vocals, supernatural story lines and wandering guitar work.
Diamond would eventually feel he could no longer be able to express his widening punk rock and supernatural expressions under the umbrella of the aforementioned Mercyful Fate, so he branched out on his own, taking guitarist Michael Denner and bassist Timi Hansen with him, as well as adding Floyd Konstantin (guitar). Shortly after naming his new band after himself, his first effort, Fatal Portrait (1986), arrived, and any relation between King Diamond and a true thrash metal act was in history only.
Konstantin's career with the act was very short lived for on the first day of recording their historic first album Diamond fired him; his replacement would be EF Band's, Anders Allhage, who shortly after changed his name to Andy La Rocque. The resulting aforementioned Fatal Portrait was not a concept album, but it cast the mold for the following albums. Five months later, a limited edition single was released for the song Halloween, containing The Candle and The Lake as B-sides. In 1987; Diamond would then push the idea of concept albums with their first in the form of Abigail (1986), an album that gave them a 123 on Billboard 200.
Abigail (1987) is widely considered one of King Diamond's (as a band) best, and proved to be the first of a long series of concept albums they would follow it with. In fact, since that day, all King Diamond albums were to be concept albums. The first promo video, the song The Family Ghost, would follow. In July of that same year, a single for this song came out. The B-side was an Abigail cut out called Shrine; removed from the album because of the lyrics which didn't match the album's content.
After the Abigail tour Pete Blakk took over guitar as Timi Hansen who would leave for reasons similar as Michael Denner previous. Hal Patino would assume bass; he was a former member of Danish band, Maltese Falcon.
Them followed in 1988, this album saw huge success, mainly due to the hit MTV video Welcome Home. In October of that same year, King Diamond released a compilation mini-album called The Dark Sides, containing rare tracks like No Presents For Christmas, Shrine, The Lake and Phone Call. Soon after the release, however, came a lawsuit from Kiss bassist Gene Simmons when he took offense to King Diamond's make-up believing the paint patterns Diamond used on the cover of The Dark Sides looked too similar to the type he used to wear in the 1970's for his stage uniform. The lawyers of both parts worked a deal out of court that included Diamond modifying his make-up patterns.
After the release of The Dark Sides, drummer Mikkey Dee, who had joined in 1985, decided to leave the band. Dee wanted more money but the band couldn't afford it. The new drummer would be Chris Whitemeier, but his tenure was short lived when Diamond decided he wasn't creative enough. The band was desperate for a drummer for the next album and so they were forced to bring back Dee as a session drummer temporarily. That album, Conspiracy, finally came out in August 1989, and was the sequel of the story told on 1988's Them that gave the band an 89 on the Billboard 200. For the promotion of Conspiracy, a video was made for the song Sleepless Nights. Once again, the cover of the album made for some controversy: The front sleeve depicting King Diamond in bloody make-up. The album cover required censoring in a few countries, such as Korea where the cover shows only the King Diamond band logo and the title "Conspiracy" written at the bottom. For the upcoming tour, the act needed a permanent drummer, however, so in late 1989, Snowy Shaw entered the band.
The Eye (1990) proved to be a disappointment in sales due in no small part to the record company's failure to promote it with no supporting tour. The main parts of the stories told on The Eye are true and the characters were real, completely opposite of the more fictional stories depicted on any other King Diamond albums. This album also saw more substantial contributions from other band members than only Diamond and LaRoque in the area of song-writing. Another thing that is different with this album: the drum parts were recorded using, in part, a drum-machine. The album debuted at 179 on the Billboard 200.
After the release of The Eye, Blakk and Patino had both been kicked out of the band at the same time and for the same reasons: apparent lack of enthusiasm and drug issues. They went on to form Totem Pole. They were replaced with Sharlee D'Angelo and Mike Wead respectively. In the case of Wead, he and Diamond already met three years before on the Abigail tour. Wead was playing in Candlemass at the time, which opened for King Diamond.
The following year, a live album titled In Concert 1987 - Abigail (1991), came out. Recorded four years earlier, this album was King Diamond's first official live album. It was released that year only to fulfill the contract with 'Roadrunner Records'. Likewise, in 1992, two other compilations were released for the same reason. The first one, called A Dangerous Meeting, contained 16 King Diamond and Mercyful Fate classics, while Return Of The Vampire was a compilation of 9 old demos recorded in 1981 and 1982. King Diamond then left 'Roadrunner Records' citing their lack of support for their work over the past two years. The band then promptly signed with 'Metal Blade Records'. After the recording sessions, Snowy Shaw moved from King Diamond to be the new Mercyful Fate drummer.
The new King Diamond album, The Graveyard (1996), followed. All the King Diamond albums had stories that touch very deep on the human mind and human nature, but this time, the story touched on a subject that is often taboo: incest.
In 1997, even though neither Mercyful Fate nor King Diamond released any new albums, Diamond himself had a lot to do working on re-mastered versions 'Roadrunner' was to release in November 1997. These new versions all contained new pictures, and for 3 of them (Abigail, The Beginning and In Concert 1987 - Abigail); 6 of the 9 re-mastered albums also contained bonus tracks.
That same year, drummer Darrin Anthony was a victim of a car accident, which forced him to leave the King Diamond band. He was replaced by John Luke Hebert. The following King Diamond album was released in February 1998. Originally, this album was meant to be called "The Plague", but the more the story grew, the more Diamond realized the story on the album was too similar to The Eye, so he decided to put that story aside. While he was looking for a new story for the album, bassist Chris Estes, who was taking courses at college at the time, talked to Diamond about voodoo. Estes had access to a library where he got Diamond five books on the subject. After reading them, Diamond made it the topic of the album. Diamond asked Pantera's "Dimebag" Darrell, a friend of his, to play a solo on the title track. Only a few days after the release of Voodoo, Herbert left the band. He wanted to stay with his girlfriend instead of going on tour with King Diamond; in came the Canadian guitarist Glen Drover to replace him. For many fans and critics, Voodoo (1998) was the best King Diamond album in many years.
Estes then left for personal reasons. To replace him, David Harbour stepped in. The new King Diamond album, House of God, came out in June 2000 and the American tour began on July 20th shorty before the new Usurper album, Necronemesis, on September 12th. (Note: Usurper covered the song Charon on the King Diamond tribute album that had been released a few months earlier, and now this release was an album Diamond had recorded some vocals on the title track of). A couple of weeks after that, however, Harbour was kicked out because apparently he had an attitude on stage towards fans, even to challenge some of them to fights. The guy who came in to replace him was no other than the returning Hal Patino . The membership changes were not done, however, as then John Luke Hebert left on November 8th for for family reasons. Not long after, Drover announced he would leave the band too claiming he just didn't have enough time for his personal life, his work, and his other band, Eidolon.
In January 2001, drummer Matt Thompson entered the band. Thompson was in the same band as former bassist David Harbour in 1996, while both of them were in the Michael Harris Band. Then on February 19th, Diamond released a live album recorded on September 30th, 1980 in a concert of his former band, Black Rose. This album was called King Diamond & Black Rose: 20 Years Ago - A Night Of Rehearsal. In the meantime, Diamond participated on Probot, a heavy metal project from Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). The album contained songs written and performed by Grohl. However, many heavy metal singers participated with Diamond's work including the track Sweet Dreams. On the following March 11th, Mike Wead was officially announced to be the replacement of Glen Drover, but not only for the European dates of the House Of God tour, but as a permanent member.
Late January 2002 saw Abigail II: The Revenge finally come out. Even though the album sold very well, there were suddenly rumors that there would be no following tour. After many months of uncertainty, King Diamond sadly announced officially that July that there will be no tour to promote the album as the record company (along with many at the time) was cutting costs to reduce financial loss.
It wouldn't be long, however, before the next release would come. In 2003, The Puppet Master would be released including limited digipak and CD, both including a bonus DVD on which Diamond tells the story of the album while wearing his full make-up. The album also featured additional vocals from Livia Zita, Diamond's wife. During the supporting tour for the album, the band recorded the live album Deadly Lullabyes (2004).In April 2006, former band mate Mikkey Dee (of-Scorpions, ex-Motorhead) made a guest appearance at King Diamond's sold-out gig in Gothenburg, Sweden.
King Diamond released his next album Give Me Your Soul... Please, on 26 June 2007. Following the release the band received a Grammy nomination in the "Best Metal Performance" category for the track Never Ending Hill. Diamond was forced to cancel a US tour due to a herniated disk, causing severe back pain, placing him in intense pain almost all of the time. He attributed the problem to the long stressful hours spent working on the album.
Diamond's (the man) next appearance would be at Ozzfest on 9 August 2008 at Frisco, TX alongside Metallica, and members of Mercyful Fate, performing a medley of Mercyful Fate songs previously released on Metallica's Garage Inc... album. Earlier in the day, he also performed a cover of the Pantera song A New Level with Vinnie Paul, Scott Ian, Max Cavalera, and Nick Bowcott.
In 2009, King Diamond was revealed to be a playable character for the game guitar Hero: Metallica, appearing with Mercyful Fate's song Evil and Curse of the Pharaohs: complete the song on any instrument and any difficulty to 'unlock' him.
On 29 November 2010, Diamond was taken to the hospital, where Doctors discovered several blockages in his arteries due to his heavy smoking. Doctors determined that he had several heart attacks and that he needed triple-bypass surgery. The surgery was performed successfully, and on 11 December 2010 it was announced that he was at home recovering. All his musical projects at that time were then placed on hold until his appearance in 2012 with Metallica for their 30th anniversary and then the 2015 Rockstar Energy Meyhem Festival.
On 19 July 2014, Hal Patino was relieved of his duties, for reasons very similar to why he was fired from the band in 1990. He was replaced by Pontus Egberg, formerly ex of Lion's Share and the Poodles. That October, King Diamond announced a new compilation titled Dreams of Horror covering the band's entire career.
The Institute (2020) would follow.
Footnote: In 2000 Sherman and Holm would enter into two side-projects together named Virus 7 and Gutrix to release an album with each.
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