JAMES KOTTAK Is In The Throes Of 'Addiction', Says His Friend ROBBIE CRANE
June 13, 2022
Veteran bassist Robbie Crane has expressed his concern about the well-being of KINGDOM COME drummer James Kottak whose band was widely lambasted for a disastrous performance at a Swedish festival over the weekend.
KINGDOM COME's June 10 appearance at Sweden Rock Festival was described by the popular Swedish site Rocknytt as the event's "biggest fuckup." Writer Peter Johansson criticized the band for the inclusion of "several lengthy, uninspired, uninteresting and completely meaningless solos on both guitar and bass", saying that the musicians "completely massacred" one of their most popular songs, "Do You Like It". He also singled out Kottak, writing that the drummer played "really badly, sluggishly" and at times failed to keep the tempo "worryingly throughout the concert". At the end of the show, Kottak "stumbled to the edge of the stage to bow with his bandmates," according to Rocknytt.
Also critical of KINGDOM COME's performance was renowned Swedish music journalist and guitar player Janne Stark, who took to his Facebook page to share a photo of the gig and he wrote in an accompanying caption: "I've never seen a drummer fall asleep on stage before but James Kottak is pretty damn close. Drunk? He slows down every song to half tempo. KINGDOM COME, sorry guys but this is SHIT!"
After BLABBERMOUTH.NETpublished an article on Sunday (June 12) about KINGDOM COME's Sweden Rock performance, Stevie Rachelle, founder of the Metal Sludge web site and frontman of the glam metal band TUFF, weighed in on the situation via his Facebook page, writing that "this latest incident, and train-wreck of a performance by James Kottak, along with his past public displays of stupid drunken behavior that have landed him on the cover of TMZ and beyond for years, is exactly what Jani Lane [late WARRANT frontman] was doing in his life for years, until those years were cut short. James Kottak is Jani Lane in 2022... and the truth is, there is likely nobody who can save him, but himself," Stevie continued. "There have been bands, a wife, kids, and I am sure managers, family and friends who have tried., just like with Jani Lane... but... James Kottak is still alive. Whether he saves himself or not, only time will tell. Too many enablers... and someone needs to say it."
Among the people who reacted to Rachelle's post was Crane, the current bass player for BLACK STAR RIDERS and formerly a member of RATT, LYNCH MOB and the Vince Neil band. Robbie wrote: "This is a sad situation… James is a good dude… He's a father, brother, son, husband, and friend… But sadly, you are correct… the only person that can save James is James. He has to want it. But like so many before him, addiction fully has him… he is in the center of his own storm and sees nothing but peace around him… He doesn't realize the physical damage he's done to himself. Not yet anyway… if we tried to help would he hear us? I don't know… Hopefully this situation will serve as a wake up call to him… All we can do is pray for him…"
In September 2016, Kottak was dismissed from SCORPIONS during his well-publicized battle with alcoholism and was replaced by former MOTÖRHEAD member Mikkey Dee.
Two years ago, Kottak, who joined the SCORPIONS in 1996, told the SCORPIONS official fan club Crazyscorps about the circumstances that led to his departure from the legendary German hard rock band: "I always liked a drink here and there. And then I always also take a pain medication called Aleve. It's what all the baseball players take, all the footballers, and it works like a charm. You take those of those and you don't feel anything. But on top of that, I'm a rock drummer in a rock band, and you've got the green light to drink.
"From 2008 to 2011, I didn't drink," he explained. "I just woke up one day and said, 'I just don't wanna drink anymore.' I didn't go to rehab; I didn't do any of that stuff. I just didn't wanna drink anymore.
"If you have any knowledge of A.A. [Alcoholics Anonymous] or any type of program or rehab, it only lasts so long and then you have what we call in recovery a relapse. I would go through these phases of a year or maybe two years of no drinking, and then you gradually…
"SCORPIONS, we play our show, we go back to the hotel, [and] 45 minutes later, we're all downstairs having dinner," he continued. "And everything's just the right price — free. All these flights back and forth from Europe, from L.A. — I was just flying constantly. Which I'm not complaining about, but it's always business or first class, and once again, all the booze is at the right price. I'm going, 'I've got the next two days off. I might as well have a drink.' And that's what triggered me to start drinking again sometimes.
"It's a typical alcoholic way of thinking: 'Well, I may as well have a drink. Why not?' And that's typical alcoholic disease thinking. 'Cause it is a disease."
Four years ago, SCORPIONS guitarist Matthias Jabs said that he and his bandmates "had to make" the decision to fire Kottak, explaining that they gave the drummer "all the chances" to get better. During an appearance on "Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon", the guitarist said: "James was a real good friend — and he still is — but we couldn't continue with him. We gave him all the chances, and 10 more. And it was something that developed over the years — the drinking habit. It came in waves — sometimes it was good for four weeks, and then [there] was drama, and if you know him, you know what that's like. Then if it affects the show, you have to go, 'Hmmm…' Because our drum riser goes up 21 feet, or 24 feet sometimes, if the venue allows it, and the production manager, or stage manager, goes, 'I can't have him go up there. It's too risky.' If you can't really walk down the stairs straight, you can't have that. So that affects your intro of the show, and that's not good — it's not professional."
He continued: "We were helping him — we were sending him to [the island of] Antigua [to Eric Clapton's Crossroads drug and alcohol treatment center], and we paid for it, and we did everything we could, because we are extremely loyal. It's always hard if you work with somebody for almost 20 years to say, 'Okay, you've gotta go.' We'd rather do the opposite and try to keep him and help him. But we reached the point — or he reached the point — where it was just not worth it. After three months or four months even — they gave him an extra month in Antigua, the rehab — he'd come home, we'd start again, and you can't even talk to him. So we had to make that decision. We had Mikkey on the road, so [James] didn't notice. So I rehearsed with [Mikkey] and Paweł [Mąciwoda, bass] in the afternoon, just a backup; that was the original plan. But then there was no way we could continue with James, so we started with Mikkey."
JAMES KOTTAK = JANI LANE ...
The Question is, can anyone save James Kottak before he Kills himself?
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