Singer Keith St John has announced his departure from KINGDOM COME after a five-year run with the band.
St John joined KINGDOM COME in 2018 after original vocalist Lenny Wolf opted not to be involved in the group’s reunion alongside drummer James Kottak, guitarists Danny Stag and Rick Steier, and bassist Johnny B. Frank.
St John‘s exit from KINGDOM COME comes just a month after Kottak died at the age of 61.
Earlier today (Sunday, February 11),St John released the following statement to BLABBERMOUTH.NET: “I really loved every single moment on stage working with James and the guys for the last five years. I am so grateful for every time we took the stage together and created that pure magic that truly touched the stars. I want to say thank you to all the new fans and especially the older deep fans that accepted me and took me in!”
He continued: “I brought my A-game to help James with his vision of getting KINGDOM COME restarted and I can say I did my very best for the brand. But since James‘s recent passing, my head’s been in a tailspin as we’d been friends for around 30 years and there was nothing more anyone could have done to help him to save himself. It’s been such a tragic loss for all who he once touched with his superhuman talents. I will always miss him dearly. I was still pretty out of it and traveling the road when regrettably some recent communications hit me that made it obvious that it was time for the band and me to simply go our separate ways.”
St John added: “Danny Stag, JB Frank and Rick Steier are truly timeless forces in the world of rock and roll and I hold those three gentlemen in the highest regards. We definitely played some of the most amazing kick-ass shows together.
“To my brothers in the KINGDOM COME band that are carrying on with it, I wish for them the very best! To all those who are reading this, I will see you down the road apiece…and again, thanks to our fans that supported us on this journey.”
Earlier this month, Stag, Steier and Frank launched a new web site at kingdomcomerockband.com where they revealed that they will carry on under the KINGDOM COME banner with the addition of two new members, vocalist Ezekiel “Zeke” Kaplan and drummer Matt 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.”
Kottak, who was open about his battle with alcoholism, died on January 9. No cause of death has been given.
KINGDOM COME had used a different drummer, SLAUGHTER‘s Blas Elias, instead of James for most of the band’s shows in the last year and a half due to Kottak‘s deteriorating health.
KINGDOM COME‘s most recent touring lineup consisted of St John and Elias alongside Stag, Steier and Frank.
Kottak‘s daughter Tobi told TMZ her father passed away in Louisville, where he lived until 1987, although further details about the exact circumstances weren’t immediately available.
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.
Last month, St John told SiriusXM‘s “Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk” about Kottak‘s passing: “He went through his ups and downs, obviously. And in the end, it seemed like he was really trying to pull it back together. I know he was just through a 48-day program, trying to do the rehab thing.”
St John explained that KINGDOM COME had been forced to use a different drummer “after a certain level of [James‘s] playing going away, which was just heartbreaking, ’cause really when he came out, he was like the second coming of [John] Bonham or something, in the ’80s. And it was just heartbreaking to see him struggling to play,” he said. “I mean, of all things, this is James Kotak; he was right on top. And the decision to — I can’t say — just part ways with him, put it that way, until he got better and get another guy was tough — probably tougher for the other guys, ’cause they had a really long history with him, especially one of the guitar players, Rick Steier, who grew up with James down near Louisville, Kentucky, which is where he’s from. This is a guy that was his partner in crime, quote-unquote, for all these years, even off the stage and off the road. But finally, we just had to do it, man. It just got to that point where we didn’t wanna see him embarrass himself, and it just wasn’t good for the band, promoters weren’t liking it. So, yeah, we had to bail.”