BOB ROCK On LED ZEPPELIN's JOHN PAUL JONES: 'He Was So Insulted' That I Produced First KINGDOM COME Album
July 11, 2020
Canadian producer, engineer, and musician Bob Rock recently spoke to Tone-Talk about his work on the debut album from '80s rockers KINGDOM COME, a band perhaps best known for its uncanny musical resemblance to LED ZEPPELIN. The 1988 LP featured the song "Get It On", which had a stranglehold on AOR radio, prompting thealbum to ship gold. The quintet took to the road immediately as part of the North American "Monsters of Rock" tour alongside VAN HALEN, SCORPIONS, METALLICA and DOKKEN. In addition to touring and extensive radio airplay, they also became MTV favorites with such videos as "Get It On" and "What Love Can Be", helping the band sell two million albums worldwide.
Speaking about how his collaboration with KINGDOM COME came about, Bob said (see video below): "Derek Shulman, he was the A&R guy, and he says, 'I've got this band I'd like you to do.' So he gave me a shot. And KINGDOM COME was the first thing I did [after] I broke away from [working with producer] Bruce Fairbairn. And basically, they wanted to sound like LED ZEPPELIN, and I was up for it. The drummer was a great drummer, and we just tried to get as close as we could with what I could do at the time. I was learning to be a producer, and it ended up turning out really good. It's a great album. So I really enjoyed it."
LED ZEPPELIN comparisons dogged KINGDOM COME throughout the latter band's '80s peak, in particular singer Lenny Wolf's vocal resemblance to ZEPPELIN singer Robert Plant and the group's penchant for blues-based hard rock, a style ZEPPELIN helped pioneer. Unsurprisingly, there was a backlash from critics, with the band being dubbed "KINGDOM CLONE" in the press. Even ZEPPELIN guitarist Jimmy Page weighed in on the similarities, stating in a 1998 interview: "Obviously it can get to the point where it gets past being a compliment and it can be rather annoying. When you've got things like KINGDOM COME actually ripping riffs right off, that's a different thing altogether."
Rock told Tone-Talk: "I got to meet [ZEPPELIN bassist] John Paul Jones once — I went for dinner with him. And we were talking about all sorts of things. And we ended up going to this house of the A&R guy, and we had had a couple of bottles of wine. And he found out I did KINGDOM COME, and he started ragging on me and I had to leave. He was so insulted that I did KINGDOM COME. And I was going, 'Dude, you don't get it. We did this because we love you guys so much.' It was so horrible."
A revamped version of KINGDOM COME — comprised of drummer James Kottak, guitarists Danny Stag and Rick Steier, bassist Johnny B. Frank, along with singer Keith St. John (formerly of MONTROSE and LYNCH MOB) — has spent much of the last couple of years celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of the band's self-titled debut album by playing sporadic shows in the U.S. Wolf declined to participate in the reunion.
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