Originally known as Whistle King, the band was formed in Oakville, Ontario in 1979 by high school buddies David Diamond on bass, drummer Max Styles and local guitar wiz Mister Zero. They recruited Sonny Keyes on keyboards and began doing dances & high school gigs, then graduated to the Toronto bar scene once they were of age. For three years they’d gained a loyal following who appreciated their straight-ahead, no nonsense approach to rock.
They entered a Toronto radio home-grown contest, beating out over 600 other entrants with “Turn My Face”, which later evolved into the single “Don’t Let Me Know”. After shortening their name to The Kings, they took tonnes of demo tapes to Yorkville’s Nimbus 9 Studios in hopes of recording an independant lp. But fate stepped in when Bob Ezrin, famed producer for the likes of Kiss, Pink Floyd and Alice Cooper happened to be at Nimbus that day. After listening to the band and hearing the demos, he agreed to work on the album, taking the final product to Elektra Records in L A, who quickly signed the group to a contract.
THE KINGS ARE HERE hit the stores in 1980 and was an instant smash. No radio on the continent wasn’t playing Kings that summer. The first single was “Switching To Glide”. After pressure from the band it was re-released as a segue mix with “This Beat Goes On”. Although it’s 6 minutes was generally too long for radio play, the 2 tracks combined into one single stayed on Billboard’s Top 100 for nearly 7 months. The airplay got the attention of promoters and upon the release of “Don’t Let Me Know” the band found themselves backing up the likes of Jeff Beck, Bob Seger and Eric Clapton. The band’s simple but slick approach was captured best with the release of “Partyitis”, the third single and “Anti Hero Man”, their social commentary.
The group returned to Phase One the next year for the making of AMAZON BEACH, released in ’81. With Ezrin again at the helm, they captured the same no-frills attitude and Mr Zero’s guitar riffs were as refined as ever. The lead-off single, “All The Way”, quickly shot up the charts, followed by the title-track and “The Fools Are In Love”, making it the band’s second straight gold record.But disagreements with management over the direction the band should be headed resulted in leaving Elektra in 1982. The band continued on and released the 4 song independant EP called RSVP in time for the Christmas rush in ’83, with the hit “This Christmas”.
They stayed in relative seclusion until 1991. Canada’s leading independant label, Bullseye Records was putting together a compilation full of the country’s biggest indie artists. The Kings were playing with some demos in the studio anyway and jumped at the chance, writing “Parting Of The Ways” for the UNSIGNED SEALED AND DELIVERED project.
The latest project was done in late ’93 and Bullseye released UNSTOPPABLE early the next year, which contained a reworked “Switchin To Glide/This Beat Goes On”. The title track reached Canada’s Top 10, and was followed by “If We Don’t Belong Together” which gained alot of airplay in the adult contemporary market and the lead off “Lesson To Learn”. “Parting Of The Ways”, their song on the indie compilation3 years later was also included. THE KINGS ARE HERE AND MORE was released in 1999. The debut THE KINGS ARE HERE, this version also contained 3 tracks from their most recent album, “Unstoppable”, “Shoulda Been Me” and “If We Don’t Belong Together”. A pair of new tracks were also included, a ballsy rocker called “Right To The Top” and the power ballad “If The Stars Come Out Tonight”.
2001 saw the release of PARTY LIVE IN ’85. Capturing the band at its live best, it was a collection of some of the North American shows. Always known as a live party band best, the versions of “This Beat”, “I Got Two Girlfriends” and their anthem “Partyitis”. A rare treat was also included, a bang-up version of the Beach Boys’ classic, “California Girls” as the final cut.
The band still goes strong today and a new album is in the works. The renewed interest in the band, along with the emergence of the classic rock format have kept The Kings alive and staples of the outdoor classic rock festivals. With a live energy seldom seen and a loyal following rivalled by few, The Kings have brought the house down with their raucous shows for over 2 decades. Couple that with slick production of well-written basic pop and you have the formula for The Kings.