- For the surname, see Dokken (surname)
Dokken is an American heavy metal band formed in 1978. They split up in 1989 but reformed four years later. The group accumulated numerous charting singles and has sold more than 10 million albums worldwide. The band was nominated for a Grammy in 1989.
Dokken was composed of founder Don Dokken on vocals, George Lynch on lead guitar, Juan Croucier on bass and Mick Brown on drums. In 1983 Croucier left Dokken in order to join Ratt and was replaced by Jeff Pilson. Currently only Dokken and Brown remain from the original line-up. After several personnel changes on guitar Dokken's attorney Jon Levin stepped in to fill the role in 2004. In 2001 Barry Sparks replaced Jeff Pilson on bass. In 2009, Sean McNabb (formerly of Great White and Quiet Riot fame) replaced Barry Sparks on bass guitar.
Early years (1976-1983)
Dokken was first formed around 1976 when Don Dokken teamed up with Greg Pecka (drums) and Steven R. Barry (bass). Prior to this Don had been playing club shows in the Los Angeles area billed as "Airborn", but had to change the band name to Dokken because another band with the same name had already acquired a record deal. In 1981 Don Dokken flew to Germany to sing background vocals on the upcoming Scorpions album Blackout in order to assist the band's vocalist Klaus Meine who was suffering from a vocal ailment. While there, Accept was recording in another studio and its manager was able to secure Don a deal with Carrere Records. Breaking the Chains was first released on this label in Germany under the name "Don Dokken", but shortly thereafter Don met up with George Lynch and Mick Brown, playing in a band called Xciter at the time.
With the addition of Juan Croucier, Dokken finally had a steady line-up. Meanwhile in the United States, manager Cliff Bernstein got the band signed in the United States. The band did an arena tour in the United States supporting Blue Öyster Cult in 1983, but when the tour was over the band was left with little money and was nearly dropped from the label due to the album's lack of success.
While the band was very popular in Europe during this time they had not yet made commercial progress in the United States. Magazines such as Kerrang! publicized Dokken in the UK.
Commercial success (1983-1988)
Juan Croucier left Dokken in 1983 just prior to the release of the "Breaking the Chains" video to join Ratt. He was replaced by Jeff Pilson, who joined in time to film the video (without having played the song). The Tooth and Nail album released on 13 September 1984. The album contained several hit songs including "Just Got Lucky", "Alone Again", and "Into The Fire", and sold over one million copies in the US alone, peaking at No. 49, while selling another estimated one million copies worldwide. On November 9, 1985 the band's third album Under Lock and Key was released. It also sold over one million copies with the singles "In My Dreams" (#24), "The Hunter" (#25) and "It's Not Love". During this time in the 1980s, Dokken opened for such bands as Judas Priest, AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Dio among others. In 1986, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, a documentary about concert goers before a Dokken and Judas Priest concert, was filmed and released.
Following a successful tour with Scorpions, Dokken returned to the studio in December 1986 to record "Dream Warriors", a song for the movie soundtrack A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. The track brought the band to the attention of many UK hard rock fans. The song was released as a single (Dream Warriors / Back for the Attack) on February 10, 1987. After this release, the band took nearly 6 months off before recording Back for the Attack. The album was released on November 27, 1987, with the singles "Burning Like a Flame" (#20), "Heaven Sent" and "Prisoner" (#37) making the album the band's most successful release, reaching No. 13 on U.S. charts. It also included a remixed version of the single "Dream Warriors" (#22), and the accompanying music video featured band members interacting with the film's characters. Back for the Attack became Dokken's third record to reach platinum status.
After releasing "Back for the Attack", the band toured as part of the Monsters of Rock Tour 1988 festival in the summer of 1988 along with Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, and Kingdom Come. Recordings from their April 1988 tour in Japan led to the release of live album Beast from the East on November 16, 1988, which went Gold in the United States and charted at No. 33. The album scored one studio single, titled "Walk Away" and a music video was made for it.
Dokken broke up in March 1989, due to creative and personal differences between Don Dokken and George Lynch. During this split Lynch and Brown formed Lynch Mob and recorded two albums: Wicked Sensation in 1990 and Lynch Mob in 1992.
Don Dokken also recorded what has been regarded as a strong solo album, titled Up from the Ashes in 1990 which spawned two singles, very much in the vein of previous Dokken efforts.
Bassist Jeff Pilson, switching to lead vocals and guitar, formed Flesh & Blood in 1989 and recorded a 5-song demo. Further recordings under the name War & Peace surfaced as Time Capsule in 1993, by which time the group had already disbanded. Pilson joined the McAuley Schenker Group for their 1992 album, M.S.G.. Afterwards, Pilson signed on with Dio for the Strange Highways album, reuniting with former Flesh & Blood band mate Vinny Appice.
Lynch's first solo effort, 1993's Sacred Groove, reunited him with Don Dokken for the writing of the track "We Don't Own This World." Don Dokken was also supposed to sing lead on the track, however at the last moment, Don was unable to attend the studio session and was replaced by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. Jeff Pilson also collaborated with Lynch on the album, co-writing the lyrics to "Flesh and Blood" and playing bass on "We Don't Own This World."
After releasing Up from the Ashes in 1990 Don Dokken wrote another solo album in 1993. Titled Dysfunctional, the album was recorded and produced in Don's studio. However when John Kalodner wanted to sign him for the album, he suggested that George Lynch be brought back into the band so that the album could be marketed as a Dokken album, and not another Don Dokken solo effort. Despite the fact that the tension between Lynch and Don Dokken was the cause of the band's 1989 split, the two agreed to put their problems behind them for the time being. The band re-united in 1994 along with Mick Brown and Jeff Pilson, with Lynch re-writing and re-recording the guitar solos on the album, which were originally conceived by Don. Dokken was signed with Columbia Records and the album managed to sell over 300,000 copies despite the decline in popularity of similar bands during this time.
During the tour supporting Dysfunctional, old tensions between George and Don had resurfaced and the band began to split apart. During a Columbia promotion for the new album in which the band was scheduled to play live on 120 radio stations, Lynch unexpectedly left the studio and refused to re-enter. The record company was forced to air the rehearsal tape that had been recorded earlier and four days later the label dropped Dokken, presumably because of this and other similar incidents involving Lynch's behavior. One Live Night, a live acoustic album was released in 1996 by a new label, CMC, and was followed with Shadowlife in 1997. Don Dokken was dissatisfied with Shadowlife, an album in which George Lynch took total control and even went as far as to replace the original Dokken logo on the album. Don alleges that George intended to destroy the band with this album, reciting the following quote from Lynch in an interview: "This is the perfect record. This is gonna be the end of Dokken, and that is what I wanted to accomplish."
Decline and line up changes (1997-2008)
In late 1997, Lynch left the band. Needing a guitarist, Dokken looked to Europe guitarist John Norum who had previously played on his 1990 solo album and was familiar with the band's catalog, to help him finish the tour. Lynch tried to re-join the group just days before the tour began, but was told that he was "out" by the rest of the group. A lawsuit followed in which Lynch sued the band for $1 million, but the band prevailed in the verdict. After the European tour, John Norum was unable to continue as he had previously committed to a solo record. The band then hired former Winger guitarist Reb Beach, and recorded in 1999 the aptly titled Erase the Slate. Dokken released another live album titled Live from the Sun in 2000 before the departure of Beach.
Beach, who wanted to work on some other projects and could not commit to Dokken long term, was replaced by John Norum, who was now in between projects and able to participate in the band's touring schedule. Bassist Jeff Pilson also left the band, replaced by Barry Sparks. In a 2004 interview, Don Dokken stated that Jeff left because "he wanted to do something different and didn't want to keep playing these songs over and over again." Of the original members, only Dokken and Mick Brown remained. This line-up released the album Long Way Home, but Norum suffered a hand injury during the band's 2002 spring tour of Europe and had to be replaced by Alex De Rosso, previously of Dark Lord. That year Dokken was featured in the Metal Edge Rock Fest tour along with Ratt, FireHouse, and other similar acts. In the spring of 2003, Dokken embarked on an extensive tour of the United States opening for Scorpions and Whitesnake. After the tour guitarist Alex De Rosso lost his visa and had to return to Italy, at which point Don Dokken called Jon Levin who formerly played guitar on Doro's Force Majeure, and also had previously met with the band and played a single show in 1998. Levin joined the band, and the line-up of Dokken, Brown, Levin, and Sparks would remain through 2008. Dokken released Hell to Pay in 2004, which was seen by critics as a modern approach to the band's style. The band continued extensive touring in 2005 and 2006. 2007 saw the release of both a live CD and a compilation DVD. The CD, titled From Conception: Live 1981, is a previously unreleased live recording from the band's early years which Don discovered in their master vault. The DVD release titled Unchain the Night was first released on VHS in 1986 and is a compilation of the band's music videos along with interviews and other footage. The band also performed at the glam metal festival Rocklahoma in both 2007 and 2008.
Recent events (2008-2010)
On May 13, 2008, Dokken released their first studio album in four years titled Lightning Strikes Again, which was met with increased commercial success and became the band's highest-charting album in 13 years, debuting at No. 133 in the United States. The album was a return to the band's signature sound and the songs follow the classic Dokken formula. Don Dokken told interviewers that Jon Levin was the bandmate who wanted the band to make an album with the classic sound in mind, and remarked that the process was difficult, saying: "I had to get back in that mindset. This is what the fans wanted, and if I stay focused on that I would give them a straight-ahead Dokken record." During the spring and summer of 2008 in order to promote the new Dokken album, Don Dokken and Jon Levin participated in dozens of interviews including Rockline, KNAC, The Classic Metal Show, as well as a series of podcasts available on the band's website.
During the summer of 2008, the band toured with Sebastian Bach and Poison. Sparks and Brown were not part of the summer 2008 touring line-up. Brown signed on to play with Ted Nugent for the summer before Dokken was offered the slot on the Poison tour, making him unable to tour in support of Lightning Strikes Again. Sparks was in Asia performing with a stadium act and was unable to tour with Dokken until he was able to get a visa for his wife. Chris McCarvill from House of Lords played bass. Jeff Martin of Racer X and Badlands played drums for the 2008 tour until he was fired by Don Dokken. Chris McCarvill's House of Lords bandmate B.J. Zampa filled in as drummer for the remainder of the tour.
Since then Dokken have toured extensively with Mick Brown back on drums (BJ Zampa filling in on drums when Mick is busy touring with Ted Nugent). Sean McNabb ex of Quiet Riot and Great White has remained on bass, along with Jon Levin on guitar and Don Dokken on vocals. In 2010, the band opened for the Scorpions on select dates of their U.S. tour. On March 1, 2010 Dokken digitally released Greatest Hits, a collection of re-recorded songs from their 1980s albums with two new tracks, to iTunes and Amazon.com. The physical album with additional tracks was released on King Records (Japan) on April 21, 2010 and is available in the United States through Cleopatra Records.
On November 29, 2009 during an encore at a Dokken show at The House Of Blues in Anaheim, George Lynch and Jeff Pilson joined Mick Brown and Don Dokken for two songs, the first time they were on stage together in 12 years.
In early 2010 Lynch announced a reunion of Dokken's "classic" line-up, though the announcement was followed by a retraction on February 24. In May 2010 George Lynch and Don Dokken appeared together as guests on Season 5, Episode 7 of television show That Metal Show. Don Dokken and Lynch Mob toured through the summer and fall of 2010.
On December 8, 2010 George Lynch announced on his web site and in interviews earlier that a Dokken reunion will not be happening. Lynch stated:
Broken Bones (2011-present)
Dokken planned to release a new studio album in the fall of 2012, with recording planned to finish by February and release before the band went on tour in June. The album would be released worldwide on Frontiers Records, which announced the signing of Dokken on November 22, 2011. Don Dokken announced the title of the new album to be Broken Bones and said the release date should be sometime in November 2012. The album was released on 25 September 2012.
Guest appearances and pop culture
Members and ex-members of the band have appeared on various tribute albums.
- George Lynch played guitar on the song "Anthem" on a tribute album to Rush.
- George Lynch and Jeff Pilson have appeared on tribute albums to Iron Maiden.
- Jeff Pilson appeared as the bassist for Steel Dragon in the movie Rock Star (starring Mark Wahlberg and Jennifer Aniston) which was loosely based on the history of Judas Priest.
- They also appeared in Dio's Hear 'n Aid in the 1980s, and were featured prominently in the music video.
- In the mid-80s Don Dokken sang lead vocals on the hit single for ex-Scorpions drummer Herman Rarebell's solo project "Herman Ze German and Friends". The song is a power ballad titled "I'll Say Goodbye". Don also sang lead vocals on the song "Hard Sensation".
- In 2009 Dokken appeared in a series of commercials for Symantec's Norton Internet Security 2010. The advertisements imagine a computer as a chicken and Dokken as a malicious computer virus. Each ad features a different outcome, based on whether or not the "Dokken Virus" was allowed into the system.
- In the episode of the sketch comedy series, Wonder Showzen titled "Space" a baby is seen with acne in the shape of the Dokken band logo. In an episode the animated MTV show Celebrity Deathmatch, the band was mentioned by James Hetfield of Metallica when he fought against Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, saying that he would prefer fighting one of Slayer's or Dokken's members instead of Durst. Dokken's song "Dream Warriors" appeared in the movie A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
- In 2012 Aesop Rock released an album titled 'Skelethon', on which he has a song titled "Dokken Rules", only appearing on the Deluxe Edition.
- On the Web-Series Classic Game Room in 2000 on the review of Ferrari F355 Challenge for the Sega Dreamcast Mark Bussler criticized the Soundtrack saying "I bet that it was the ex-members of Dokken."
In June 2010, both Don Dokken and George Lynch appeared together in an episode of That Metal Show. In the episode they claimed that the main cause of their rift was a publicity stunt that they both eventually started to believe. George also stated that Don also wanted to "take all the money and all the credit" did not help, with Don nodding during the statement. They both also mentioned that they would love to have a reunion with Don, George, Jeff, and Mick, but that they are all too busy with other projects in 2010 (between Dokken's current lineup, Lynch Mob, Jeff's involvement with Foreigner, etc.). They did not rule out a 2011 reunion - but it did not come to pass.
- Studio albums
- Breaking the Chains (1981)
- Tooth and Nail (1984)
- Under Lock and Key (1985)
- Back for the Attack (1987)
- Dysfunctional (1995)
- Shadowlife (1997)
- Erase the Slate (1999)
- Long Way Home (2002)
- Hell to Pay (2004)
- Lightning Strikes Again (2008)
- Broken Bones (2012)
- Official website
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Image from Discogs