Rock And A Hard Place: King Kobra, A History Of Hair
King Kobra has come full circle. From a promising rock band opening for Kiss in the 80′s so doing one of the most ill-advised videos in history to making a comeback in the new millennium. You could make a movie about the band and people wouldn’t believe the story. It starts with Carmine Appice, one of rock all-time great drummers, putting together a band back in 1984 after a brief stint playing for Ozzy.
Appice was with Rod Stewart and before that with the legendary “Cactus” and “Vanilla Fudge”. He’s simply one of rock’s most respected players. So what could go wrong here right? Well, unfortunately for King Kobra the labels were demanding all the Hair bands to take a much more Pop approach to the music.
1985′s “Ready To Strike” was critically acclaimed and the fans seemed to love it too. They opened for Kiss and had a good thing going. The band was comprised of singer Mark Free, guitarist Mick Sweda and David-Michael Phillips and bassist Johnny Rod. They were all good players, Free had the voice of an angel and the band was tight.
Remember now 1985 was an era of image, so all the guys except for Appice had bleach blonde huge hair. They all wore red, black, white and yellow outfits that were typical of that era. They burned a hole in the ozone with hairspray, they were the shit for sure.
Then something happened from their first to second release. ”Thrill Of A Lifetime” was one of the biggest letdowns of that era. It was keyboard-based Pop music that completely strayed from their first release. The single “Iron Eagle” was the title-track to the movie of the same name.
The video for “Iron Eagle” was one of the most ill-advised moves I have ever seen. They joined the air force and allowed themselves to get their hair cut. The problem is that they were even prettier with short hair and actually looked like a bunch of Nazis. Whatever male fan base they had was pretty much lost after this release.
After this debacle, Free quit the band, they got a new singer and put out a grittier rock version of the band, but it was too late. The fans had left, and grunge was creeping around the corner.
Despite the bad career choices, there has been interest in the band ever since and their world-wide following pushed the guys to reform. The one big problem was that Mark Free was no longer “Mark”. He had gone through a sex-change operation and is now “Marcie”. She continues to put out music and in fact still has an amazing voice. But for whatever reason, the band did not reform with “Marcie” and went with Paul Shortino, a journeyman singer who was in Rough Cutt back in the 80′s.
I told you this was a crazy story. But the ending is good, in fact there really isn’t an “ending”. The band did one album in 2010 and has another on the way! Here’s the guys talking about the “making of King Kobra II”
Here’s the “Good Times” video from their reunion album in 2010.
Back in their 80′s heyday here’s “Hunger”.
And finally, if you can take it, here’s the video for “Iron Eagle”.