Former Scorpions and Kingdom Come Drummer, James Kottak, Passes Away at 61
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In a somber announcement, the Scorpions shared the news of the passing of former drummer James Kottak at the age of 61.
The band expressed their grief on social media
Remembering Kottak as not just a talented musician but also a wonderful human being and a loving family man.
“Very sad news,” wrote the band. “Our dear friend and drummer for 20 years James Kottak has passed at the age of 61. James was a wonderful human being, a great musician and loving family man. He was our ‘Brother from another Mother’ and will be truly missed. Rock‘n’roll forever. RIP James.”
Born in Louisville, KY, in 1962, Kottak co-founded Kingdom Come in Hamburg, Germany, in 1987. His musical journey included playing on Kingdom Come’s first two albums, 1988’s Kingdom Come and 1989’s In Your Face. He later had a brief stint with The Cult before joining the Scorpions in 1996. Kottak contributed his drumming skills to all of the band’s albums from 1999’s Eye II Eye to 2016’s Return to Forever.
Kottak’s musical repertoire extended beyond Scorpions and Kingdom Come. He collaborated with bands like Montrose, Warrant, Dio, the McAuley Schenker Group, Buster Brown, Black Sheep, Wild Horses, and his own band, Kottak.
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However, like many in the music industry, Kottak faced personal challenges related to alcohol.
In 2014, during a Scorpions tour in the United Arab Emirates, he encountered legal issues due to alcohol-related incidents. After serving a jail sentence and paying a fine, Kottak committed to overcoming alcoholism.
“I am determined to come to grips with my alcoholism and am doing everything on a daily basis to beat this relentless disease,” Kottak stated at the time. “This entire incident caused me to realize that it is time to stop drinking once and for all so that I can become the father, musician, and friend that I know I can be.”
After a successful stint in rehab, Kottak rejoined the Scorpions to record Return To Forever but was later replaced by former Mötorhead drummer Mikkey Dee in the following year.
“I had my personal up and down struggles, and those guys stood behind me every step of the way,” Kottak shared with Dave’s On Tour. “When you’re in a band, it’s like you’re in a marriage. You just know when it’s time to move on. One can say I was fired or dismissed. But to be quite honest, I was right along with them. I lost the drive and desire.”
In 2018, Kottak reunited with original Kingdom Come members for a tour, although frontman Lenny Wolf did not participate. Keith St. John, a former Montrose and Lynch Mob vocalist, took his place.
The cause of James Kottak’s death has not been confirmed. The music world mourns the loss of a talented drummer and a resilient soul who left an indelible mark on the rock scene. May he rest in peace.