Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The #94 Guitarist of the Rock Era: Kerry King

Remember the criteria for ranking guitarists:  We evaluated them on their overall ability, the sound of their guitar-playing, their popularity, their longevity, their experience, their guitar riffs, the ability to play a melody, their speed, creativity, their entertainment ability and live stage presence and overall popularity.

Of all the heavy metal acts, Slayer is one of the heaviest out there.  One of its guitarists, Kerry King, made The Top 100*:
#94:  Kerry King, Slayer
32 years as an active guitarist
(at a demo for Marshall amplifier)

Kerry King was born June 3, 1964 in Los Angeles.  He is the co-founder and lead guitarist of Slayer, a group recognized as being one of "the big four thrash metal groups" (the others being Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax). 

King began learning to play guitar at Calvano's Music in South Gate, California.  In 1981, he tried out for lead guitarist in a band.  After the session, Jeff Hanneman, King and the session drummer began playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs.  Hanneman suggested they start their own band and King agreed. 

King at Tuska-Festival

The group first entered the recording studio in November, 1983. Their debut album, Show No Mercy, was released just three weeks after tracks were completed and the band began a national club tour in support of the album. In 1984, a three-song EP was released, called Haunting the Chapel, which featured one of Slayer's most popular songs, "Chemical Warfare". The group made its European debut at the Heavy Sound Festival in Belgium before returning to the United States for a tour.
Following the tour, King joined the new group Megadeth but left after five shows.  The group released Hell Awaits in 1985 with longer and more complex song structures.  The success of that album (40,000 copies sold) led to a new recording contract with Def Jam Records, mostly a hip-hop label.  Columbia, distributor of Def Jam, refused to release the group's new album but it finally came out on Geffen Records in November of 1986.  Reign in Blood became Slayer's first album to go gold (500,000 copies).

South of Heaven in 1988 and Seasons of the Abyss the following year were also was certified gold.  In 1990, Slayer co-headlined the European Clash of the Titans tour.  The Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donington, Ireland, was another live highlight.  Divine Intervention in 1994 became Slayer's top album, peaking at #8 and also going gold.  The group was billed third at the 1995 Monsters of Rock festival and headlined the 1996 Ozzfest.

Slayer was nominated for a Grammy award for their song "Disciple" in 2001.  In 2006, Slayer was named to the Kerrang!  Hall of Fame for their heavy metal influence.  "Eyes of the Insane" captured the Grammy for Best Metal Performance at the 2007 Awards and repeated the next year for the track "Final Six".

Following the release of the album World Painted Blood, Slayer, along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax performed on the same bill for the first time on June 16, 2010 at Bemowo Airport in Warsaw, Poland, and "the big four" performed several times together after that.  "Hate Worldwide" in 2010 and "World Painted Blood" in 2011 were both nominated at the Grammys for Best Metal Performance.
King's style has been characterized as "wildly chaotic".  His guitar-playing is largely responsible for Slayer being recognized as a leader in thrash metal.  King has worked as a session guitarist for many artists, including Metallica, Pantera, Ice-T, Sum41 and the Beastie Boys and has joined Megadeth on stage.

King plays B.C. Rich guitars, including the Signature V, the "Metal Master Warlock" and the Speed V Handcrafted T2" with Marshall amplifiers (JCM-800 2203KK).  For effects, Kerry uses the GE-7 Graphic EQ and TU-2 Chromatic Tuner from Boss, the Dunlop CR-1SR Crybaby Rack Wah and the KFKQZ1 Q-Zone Pedal, the MXR 10 Band EQ Pedal, the Shure UHF Wireless System, the Pro floorboard from Voodoo Lab Ground Control, the Eventide H3000S Harmonizer, the Radial Tonebone Trimode Classic Tube Distortion and the MXR Smart Gate Pro.

King comes in at #94 for the Rock Era*.

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