hen Mercyful Fate split into two camps in 1986, vocalist King Diamond (Real Name: Kim Bandix Petersen; ex-Brainstorm/ex-Back Rose; ex-Brats; born on June 14th 1956) with Michael Denner (guitar; ex-Brats) and Timi Hansen (bass) decided to make satanic occult and horror movie styled Metal while the former outfit continued on with their more mainstream direction. By this time Petersen had already established his image with his face makeup since seeing the Alice Cooper show Welcome To My Nightmare way back in 1975.
Mercyful Fate to that point under the direction of Hank Shermann (guitar), Michael Denner (guitar), Kim Ruzz (drums) and Timi Grabber Hansen (bass), along with Diamond himself, released a mini-LP debut of Mercyful Fate (1982), along with the albums Melissa (1983; named after a real human skull Diamond owned and used as a stage prop until it was stolen by a fan during a show in Denmark), and Don't Break The Oath (1984). King Diamond's music became known for its high-pitched vocals, supernatural story lines and wandering guitar work. Their live performances were much in the style of Alice Cooper. Every successive album became even more bizarre and deepened the sub-plots, and Kin g Diamond could no longer express his widening Gothic and supernatural expressions under the umbrella of the aforementioned Mercyful Fate, so he branched out on his own, and shortly after naming his new band after himself his first effort, Fatal Portrait (1986), arrived, and any relation between King Diamond and a true Thrash act was in history only. His new line-up of himself along with the returning Michael Denner (guitar), Timi Hansen (bass), and newcomers Mikkey Dee (drums) and Floyd Konstantin (guitar) would launch the new band. But Konstantin's career with the act was very short lived for on the first day of recording t heir historic first album Diamond fired him; his replacement would be EF Band's, Anders Allhage, who shortly after changed his name to Andy La Rocque. The resulting aforementioned Fatal Portrait was not a concept album, but it cast the mold for the following albums. Five months later, a limited edition single was released for the song Halloween, containing The Candle and The Lake as B-sides In 1987; Diamond would then push the idea of concept songs one step further with the album Abigail.
Abigail (1987) is widely considered one of their best, and proved to be the first of a long series of concept albums. In fact, since that day, all King Diamond albums were to be concept albums. The first promo video for the song The Family Ghost would follow. In July of that same year, a single for this song came out. The B-side was an Abigail cut-off called Shrine. This song has been removed from the album because of the lyrics which didn't match the album's content. With the ever growing success of King Diamond, there was increasing demand for the re-release of the hard-to-find first EP of Mercyful Fate. In October 1987, 'Roadrunner' released the compilation, The Beginning, which contained the 4 songs of the first EP in addition of 4 other songs: 3 songs recorded during a BBC session on March 18th 1983 (Curse Of The Pharaohs, Evil and Satan's Fall) as well as Black Masses (originally available only on the Black Funeral single). Shortly after that, the 2 remaining members of Mercyful Fate decided to leave. First, Michael Denner left to spend more time with his family. He was replaced by Michael Moon for the Abigail tour, but in turn was soon ousted after the tour for Pete Blakk. After that, it was Timi Hansen who would leave for reasons similar as Michael Denner. The bassist who replaced him, Hal Patino, was a former member of Danish band, Maltese Falcon.
Them followed in 1988, this album saw huge success, mainly due to the hit MTV video Welcome Home. In October of that same year, King Diamond released a compilation mini-album called The Dark Sides, containing rare tracks like No Presents For Christmas, Shrine, The Lake and Phone Call. Soon after the release, however, came a lawsuit from Kiss bassist, Gene Simmons. when he took offense to King Diamond's make-up believing the paint patterns Diamond used on the cover of The Dark Sides looked too similar to the type he used to wear in the seventies. The lawy ers of both parts worked a deal out of court that included Diamond modifying his make-up.
After the release of The Dark Sides, Mikkey decided to leave the band. Mikkey wanted more money but the band couldn't afford it, so he decided to leave. The new drummer would be Chris Whitemeier, but his tenure was short lived when Diamond decided he wasn't creative enough. The band was desperate for a drummer for the next album and so they were forced to bring back Mikkey as a session drummer temporarily.
The album, Conspiracy, finally came out in August 1989, and was the sequel of the story told on Them. For the promotion of Conspiracy, a promo video was made for the song Sleepless Nights. Once again, the cover of the album made for some controversy: The front sleeve depictingKing Diamond in bloody make-up. The album cover required censoring in a few countries, such as Korea where the cover shows only the King Diamond logo as well as "Conspiracy" written at the bottom. For the upcoming tour, the act needed a permanent drummer, however, so in late 1989, Snowy Shaw entered the band.
The Eye (1990) proved to be a dissappointment in sales due in no small part to the record company's failure to promote it with no supporting tour. The main parts of the st ories told on The Eye are unfortunately true and the characters were real, completely opposite of the more fictional stories depicted on any other King Diamond albums. This album also saw more substantial contributions from other band members than only Diamond and LaRoque in the area of song-writing. Another thing that is different with this album: the drum parts were recorded with a drum-machine.
After the release of The Eye, Blakk and Patino had both been kicked out of the band at the same time and for the same reasons: apparent lack of enthusiasm and drug issues. They went on to form Totem Pole. They were replaced wi th Sharlee D'Angelo and Mike Wead respectively. In the case of Wead, he and Diamond already met 3 years before on the Abigail tour. Wead was playing in Candlemass at the time, which opened for King Diamond.
The following year, a live album titled In Concert 1987 - Abigail (1991), came out. Recorded 4 years earlier, this album was King Diamond's first official live album. It was released that year only to fulfill the contract with 'Roadrunner Records'. Likewise, in 1992, two other compilations were released for the same reason. The first one, called A Dangerous Meeting, contained 16 King Diamond and Mercyful Fate classics, while Return Of The Vampire was a compilation of 9 old demos recorded in 1981 and 1982. King Diamond then left 'Roadrunner Records' citing their lack of support for their work over the past two years. They then promptly signed with 'Metal Blade Records'.
Around the time King Diamond was switching labels, he heard, by chance, some new music written by Hank Shermann and Michael Denner. The tracks that he heard reminded him of Mercyful Fate. Shermann proposed the idea of Mercyful Fate gathering again. Everybody agreed to be part of this reunion project, except drummer Kim Ruzz, who was st ill out of the music industry for some 8 years now and was happy with how his life had evolved since then. In early 1993, Mercyful Fate was in the studio recording a new album, their first studio album in 9 years. The band was still without a drummer, so a session drummer called Morten Nielsen played on the album. The band re-recorded the song Return Of The Vampire '93 with guest drummer Lars Ulrich from Metallica as a bonus track. After the recording sessions, Snowy Shaw moved from King Diamond to be the new Mercyful Fate drummer.
For the resulting return debut, In The Shadows (1993), the band also made 2 promo videos,Egypt and The Bell Witch, as well as a promo single which contained the song Egypt only. The first show was in Copenhagen, in May 1993, with long-time friends Metallica. After the following tour ended, Hansen left the band again. He left for the same reason he left the King Diamond act 6 years before: to spend more time with his family. His substitute was King Diamond's bassist, Sharlee D'Angelo. A live EP recorded during the previous tour was then released. The EP, The Bell Witch (1994), was available only for a limited time. Later that year, Mercyful Fate released Time, their second studio album since the reunion. To promote this album, the band shot 2 other promo videos: Nightmare Be Thy Name and Witches' Dance. Halfway through the Time Tour, Shaw left the band and been replaced by Bob Lance, who came for the American part of the tour, and had worked with Shermann in the past: he was the drummer of Fate, the band Shermann created after the break-up of Mercyful Fate a decade earlier.
Shortly after he entered the band, Lance changed his name for Bjarne T. Holm (his real name). Even though Mercyful Fate reunited, Diamond wanted to keep his solo band running too. After the last King Diamond studio album, The Eye, the members were Andy La Rocque, Snowy Shaw, Sharlee D'Angelo and Mike Wead. Now, however, the act would consist of Darrin Anthony (drums), Herb Simonsen (guitars) and Chris Estes (bass). Even though this album was written about 5 years before its release, it came out now, early 1995 as Diamond just didn't have the opportunity to release it before that date. In early 1996, while recording its new album, Mercyful Fate had been asked to participate to a Judas Priest tribute album. The song The Ripper was chosen to be covered, and was included on the album Legends Of Metal: A Tribut e To Judas Priest. That same year, the act released two new albums. At first, both albums were supposed to be released at the same time, but the record company decided to release them a few months apart; they thought both albums would sell more if the were not released simultaneously. The first to be released was Mercyful Fate's Into The Unknown. This album was much more progressive than any other album Mercyful Fate ever released. The Japanese pressing contained also The Ripper as a bonus track for Japan only. A promo video was also made for the song The Uninvited Guest.
A short while later, during the Into The Unknown tour, Michael Denner left the band to celebrate his second son's birth. Denner asked the band to bring Mike Wead in the band to replace him. He thought Wead was not only a good musician, but he had the same kind of playing than Denner had, so he replaced him temporarily for the remaining dates of this tour. The new King Diamond album, The Graveyard, followed. All the King Diamond albums had stories that touch very deep on the human mind and human nature, but this time, the story touched on a subject that is often taboo: incest.
In 1997, Michael Denner told the band he would not come back in the band to stay with his family and to run his record store properly, so Mike Wead stayed permanently in Mercyful Fate. That same year, even though neither Mercyful Fate nor King Diamond released any new albums, Diamond himself had a lot to do working on the re-mastered versions 'Roadrunner' was to release in November 1997. These new versions all contained new pictures, and for 3 of them (Abigail, The Beginning and In Concert 1987 - Abigail); 6 of the 9 re-mastered albums also contained bonus tracks.
That same year, drummer Darrin Anthony was a victim of a car accident, which forced him to leave the King Diamond band. He was replaced by John Luke Heber t. The following King Diamond album was released in February 1998. Originally, this album was meant to be called "The Plague", but the more the story grew, the more Diamond realized the story on the album was too similar to The Eye, so he decided to put that story aside. While he was looking for a new story for the album, bassist Chris Estes, who was taking courses at college at the time, talked to Diamond about voodoo. Estes had access to a library where he got Diamond five books on the subject. After reading them, Diamond made it the topic of the album. Diamond asked Pantera's "Dimebag" Darrell, a friend of his, to play a solo on the title track. Only a few days after the release of Voodoo, Herbert left the band. He wanted to stay with his girlfriend instead of going on tour with King Diamond; in came the Canadian guitarist Glen Drover to replace him.
For many fans and critics, Voodoo was the best King Diamond album in many years. Four months later, it was Mercyful Fate's turn to release its new album, Dead Again. Another promo video was also made in the form of The Night.
In June 1999, Mercyful Fate released their album called 9. For the first time, the band decided to modify its logo. With this album, the band tried a heavier sound.
Then Estes left for personal reasons. To replace him, David Harbour stepped in. The new King Diamond album, House Of God, came out in June 2000 and the American tour began on July 20th shorty before the new Usurper album, Necronemesis, on September 12th. (Note: Usurper covered the song Charon on the King Diamond tribute album that had been released a few months earlier, and now this release was an album Diamond had recorded some vocals on the title track of). A couple of weeks after that, however, Harbour was kicked out because apparently he hadan attitude on stage towards fans, even to challenge some of them to fights. The guy who came in to replace him was no other than the returning Hal Patino . The membership changes were not done, however, as then John Luke Hebert left on November 8th for for family reasons. Not long after, Drover announced he would leave the band too claiming he just didn't have enough time for his personal life, his work, and his other band, Eidolon.
In January 2001, drummer Matt Thompson entered the band. Thompson was in the same band as former bassist David Harbour in 1996, while both of them were in the Michael Harris Band. Then on February 19th, Diamond released a live album recorded on September 30th, 1980 in a concert of his former band, Black Rose. This album was called King Diamond & Black Rose: 20 Years Ago - A Night Of Rehearsal. In the meantime, Diamond participated on Probot, a Metal project from Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). The album contained songs written and performed by Grohl. However, many Metal singers participated with Diamond's work including the track Sweet Dreams. On the following March 11th, Mike Wead was officially announced to be the replacement of Glen Drover, but not only for the European dates of the House Of God tour, but as a permanent member.
Late January 2002 saw Abigail II: The Revenge finally came out. Even though the album sold very well, there were suddenly rumors that there would be no tour following that release. After many months of uncertainty, King Diamond sadly announced officially in the following month of July that there will definitively have no tour to promote this album as the record company (along with many at the time) was cutting costs to reduce financial loss. It wouldn't be long, however, before the next release would come. In 2003, The Puppet Master would be released including limited digipak and CD, both including a bonus DVD on w hich Diamond tells the story of the album in full make-up! Besides this new album, some other things may see the light of day as Diamond would be attempting to jump into the marketing frenzy of fellow Metalhead bands like Kiss with plans for comic books from Diamond's horror stories and maybe a horror novel, movies for TV or real theatrical releases, a video game, and also an autobiography.
In April 2006, he reunited with Mikkey Dee (Motörhead) at a sold-out gig at Kåren in Gothenburg, Sweden.
King Diamond released his next album Give Me Your Soul... Please, on 26 June 2007. Following the release the band received a Grammy nomination in the "Best Metal Performance" category for the track "Never Ending Hill." He was forced to cancel a United States tour due to a herniated disk, causing severe back pain, which puts him in intense pain almost all of the time. He attributes the problem to the long stressful hours spent working on the album.
His next appearance at Ozzfest on 9 August 2008 at Frisco, TX alongside Metallica, performing a medley of Mercyful Fate songs previously released on Metallica's Garage Inc. album. Earlier in the day, he also performed a cover of the Pantera song A New Level with Vinnie Paul, Scott Ian, Max Cavalera, and Nick Bowcott.
In 2009, King Diamond was revealed to be a playable character for the rhythm game Guitar Hero: Metallica, appearing with Mercyful Fate's song Evil. Complete the song on any instrument and any difficulty to unlock him.
On 29 November 2010, he was taken to the hospital, where they discovered several blockages in his arteries due to his heavy smoking. They determined that he had several heart attacks and that he needed triple-bypass surgery. The surgery was performed successfully, and on 11 December 2010 it was announced that he was at home recovering. All his musical projects at that time were then placed on hold until his appearance in 2012 with Metallica for their 30th anniversary and then the 2015 Rockstar Energy Meyhem Festival.
Footnote: In 2000 Sherman and Holm would enter into two side-projects together named Virus 7 and Gutrix to release an album with each.