Disclaimer: This writeup does not include the history of the early days of King Diamond. You can read about it here in my Mercyful Fate writeup. This is due to the intertwined history of the two and to avoid duplication.
After leaving Mercyful Fate in 1985, the bizarrely voiced King Diamond named his next band after himself. He brought along Michael Denner and Timi Hansen from Mercyful Fate. He also hired drummer Mikkey Dee from Geisha who played drums on the first four releases before being recruited to improve the good-looks average in none other than Motörhead. King recruited the guitarist Floyd Konstantin (who may also have been from Geisha). Floyd Konstantin could not live up to King's high standards and was let go before recording with the band. He may have even played a few gigs with King. Enter Andy La Rocque (real name Anders Allhage) from EF Band. The classic King Diamond line up was complete. The new band has focussed on performing less speedy songs than those of ‘the Fate’, dealing with the occult themes of before but upping the theatrical content a notch, even including on-stage actors playing the characters in the songs. Mercyful Fate reformed in 1993 and Diamond continued to tour and record with both bands.
It was the Christmas season in 1985 when King introduced the world to King Diamond. No Presents for Christmas was released as a 12" single with ‘Charon’ on the b-side. In April of 1986 the first full length King Diamond album was released under the title Fatal Portrait. This album was a departure from the Satanic themes used on the Mercyful Fate albums. This was King's first attempt to link songs together as a concept (‘The Candle’, ‘The Jonah’, and ‘The Portrait’). The album was successful in retaining the Mercyful Fate fans as well as attract new fans but it was the next album, Abigail that proved King could conquer all aspects of song writing. This was King's first full concept album taking the listener to new heights of horror. To this day this is considered to be one of the all time great heavy metal recordings. Unfortunately, this would be Michael Denner and Timi Hansen's last album with King. Michael Denner left the band before the tour and was replaced, briefly, by Michael Moon. Michael Moon was quickly replaced by Pete Blakk. Timi Hansen left the band after the tour to be with his family. He was replaced by Hal Patino.
With his new line up intact, King was now ready to record one of his most elaborate concept albums ever. Them was released in June 1988. The album and tour was King's most successful and the video for ‘Welcome Home’ was getting MTV airplay on Headbangers Ball. All seemed to be going King's way. Unfortunately, another long time member of the band left. Mikkey Dee left the band before the recording of Conspiracy. Chris Whitemeier, Dee's replacement, was not able to live up to King's high standards and was soon axed from the line up. Mikkey Dee was hired as a session drummer to complete the album. Conspiracy was the continuation of the story told on Them. Snowy Shaw was Mikkey Dee's replacement on the tour in support of Conspiracy.
The Eye was released in October of 1990. This album saw contributions from Snowy Shaw and Pete Blakk as far as song writing. This was to be King's last studio album for Roadrunner Records. It would also prove to be the last King album with Pete Blakk and Hal Patino. Patino and Blakk were axed from the line up due to lack of interest and drug problems.
King went into the studio in September, 1994 with a new King Diamond line up and new record label to record the first King Diamond since 1990. Andy La Rocque was still in the line up with the rest being newcomers. Chris Estes on bass, Herbie Simonsen on guitars, and Darrin Anthony on drums. The result was The Spider’s Lullabye. After the recording King Diamond went on tour with the now re-formed Mercyful Fate to promote their latest release. After he came off the road he began recording the Mercyful Fate album Into The Unknown in January of 1996. In March of 1996 he began the recording of the next King Diamond album The Graveyard. After the disastrous US Mercyful Fate Tour (King Diamond had been taken ill) he returned to the studio and started to record the King Diamond album Voodoo in July of 1997 then immediately began recording the Mercyful Fate album Dead Again. Then in mid April of 1998, King finally went on tour in the US as King Diamond. It was the first time since 1989 that King played the States with his solo band. The tour featured a full stage show with a hired actress. (see also: Mercyful Fate).
In the solo King Diamond department, King once again replaced another member of the band. Chris Estes is out and was replaced by David Harbour who has been in a lot of bands prior to his engagement with King Diamond. They entered the studio in the winter of 2000 to record House of God. A killer album! Once again, a concept album, House of God proves that after 20+ years, King can still create incredible music. The prolific Dane could not stand idleness and went into the studio once again to release a follow up to his trademark record i.e. Abigail II – The Revenge. Once again it is a wonderful display of some of the more technically skilled musicians in the industry today coupled with King Diamond’s talent for weaving a story throughout the record.
I’m sure that in the years to come his falsetto shrieks will provide metal fans with hours of listening pleasure!