KINGDOM COME Bassist JOHNNY B. FRANK: JAMES KOTTAK Was 'A Closet Drinker' Who 'Would Deny That He Was An Alcoholic'

March 13, 2024

In a new interview with Artists On Record Starring ADIKA Live!, KINGDOM COME bassist Johnny B. Frank reflected on the passing of the band's drummer James Kottak. Kottak, who also played with the SCORPIONS for 20 years, died on January 9 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was 61 years old. No cause of death has been revealed.

Frank said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I was James's sponsor, so I feel really bad that maybe I was a little bit responsible for his death… He was an alcoholic. He was in a rehab when he died."

According to Johnny, KINGDOM COME's 2018 reunion wasn't the first time the band attempted to make a comeback. "We tried to do [a KINGDOM COME reunion] in 2015 when [original singer] Lenny [Wolf] was still in the band," he revealed. "James had a year off from the SCORPIONS, so he said, 'Let's do some KINGDOM COME.' And Lenny was into it. We were getting those big bucks, 'cause it was all original members and we hadn't done anything in 30 years, 29 years or something. So there was a big buzz about us. And then James went to his doctor that afternoon — we were gonna rehearse that night with Lenny and Rick [Steier, guitar] and Danny [Stag, guitar] and everybody — and he told his doctor, 'I'm an alcoholic.' And his doctor said, 'Well, let me prescribe you some Valium.' So he thought, 'Okay, I'll just take a Valium before rehearsal and then I won't need to drink.' And then when the Valium started kicking in, he thought, 'You know what would go good with this? Some Jack Daniel's.' He felt that buzz coming on, and he was, like, 'I've gotta finish this off.' An hour later, he actually fell off his drum stool, and Lenny said, 'That's it. I'm going back to Germany.' And we made a deal with him a year and a half later to lease the name and Universal Pictures bought the bought the catalog and stuff like that. So it's kind of open now."

Circling back to Kottak's inability to stop drinking, Frank said: "Like most alcoholics, he wouldn't talk about his alcoholism. He would just deny that he was and eat a bunch of mints… He was a closet drinker, and I was his sponsor. I'm a professional drug counselor. I was the highest-paid drug counselor in Jacksonville. I did a frequency healing session for people that would bring on the divine frequencies and then get people to relax and other things they weren't capable of doing so quickly off drugs. They just got off drugs, so it's hard for 'em."

Asked if he recalls the last conversation he had with James, Johnny said: "I do, and it haunts me constantly. 'Cause we were screaming at each other. It's sad that that was my last conversation with him. 'Cause I was his sponsor, and I was supposed to be helping him. But I was applying what we call 'tough love'. He was lying to me, he was lying to me, and I was just, like, 'James, I'm not gonna listen to that shit. I'm not co-signing your bullshit. You're an alcoholic. Get back in, do another 31 days in rehab. You're not ready for the world yet. I can tell by talking to you. Let's do another 31 days, and then we'll get you back on drums and everything will be fine.' And 10 days later, he died."

Johnny, a self-described "conspiracy theorist," claimed earlier in the interview — without offering any evidence — that "the real reason" James died is because he was vaccinated. "He was the only one in the band that was [vaccinated], and he had heart problems right after the [vaccination]," he said. "The smartest people in the world didn't take the [vaccine]. No offense, but the Masters and PHDs, they were the most vaccine-hesitant people in the world.

"I've been a conspiracy theorist since I was 10 years old, since I had to get under my desk in school because we were gonna get nuked," he added. "And then they killed John Kennedy, and that was, obviously, the CIA who did that."

Johnny also talked about KINGDOM COME's new lineup, which consists of Frank, Stag and Steier alongside two new members, vocalist Ezekiel "Zeke" Kaplan and drummer Matt Muckle. He said: "[SLAUGHTER's] Blas Elias [who was helping us out when James was unable to make the shows], [he is a] great drummer. Keith St. John [is a] great singer, real pro. But we weren't getting the gigs we wanted, and Keith's pretty busy with 'Raiding The Rock Vault'. And James was kind of sick."

He continued: "We're gonna use Matt Muckle, who's one of my best friends and one of the greatest drummers and greatest human beings on this planet. And one of the last things James ever said to me is, 'Matt Muckle's a motherfucker. That guy can play drums.' And I was, like, 'Yep.' And so now we got him, and we got a new singer. And we're really psyched about these two shows [in March]. We're gonna wear all black and we're gonna ask everybody in the audience to wear black, because this is a funeral for us. I mean, we're gonna have a good time and we're gonna play our best songs and we're gonna play some surprise songs."

Last month, Stag, Steier and Frank launched a new web site at where they revealed that they will carry on under the KINGDOM COME banner with the addition of Kaplan and Muckle.

The all-new KINGDOM COME is promising to kick off 2024 "with a new touring lineup, new personnel, a new album, and a brand-new live tour," starting on March 15 at The Lamp Theater in Irwin, Pennsylvania, followed by an appearance at The Mercury Music Lounge in Lakewood, Ohio on March 16.

Regarding the split with St John, KINGDOM COME wrote: "KINGDOM COME has decided to part ways with vocalist Keith St John in order to allow him to devote more time to BURNING RAIN, 'Raiding The Rock Vault', and his solo projects. We sincerely wish him only the best, and thank him for his invaluable contributions to getting KINGDOM COME back up and running again in 2018."

In addition to SCORPIONS and KINGDOM COME, Kottak had toured with such bands as WARRANT and even DIO for a short run. James was also involved in various other projects, including the 1990s band KRUNK in which he sang lead vocals and played guitar.

Kottak was married to Athena Lee, the sister of MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer Tommy Lee, from 1996 to 2010.

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