Touring with Motörhead, meeting Metallica, and changing metal forever in just two days – King Diamond steps into the Electric Theater

Posted by Ramon Gonzales in Interviews on February 3, 2021

The patron saint of heavy metal reflects on the earliest years of his career and details how music, since the very beginning, has been an all consuming obsession.

It becomes a bit surreal listening in on a conversation between clown of Slipknot and the unparalleled King Diamond but fans are treated to just that in the latest edition of the Electric Theater.

The sort of epic eve’s drop on a conversation between the master craftsmen began with King Diamond trekking back to his very first experiences with music. Explaining that his first concert experience was Grand Funk Railroad in 1971, Diamond confessed to being completely obsessed. He spent what little money he had on records and had to frequent the library to get to the rest of the records he couldn’t afford.

Diamond was so enamored with music that he began recording sounds – just sounds – on an old reel to reel recorder on a primitive guitar he fashion with a piece of wood, two nails, and an elastic band. Enthralled with all things Jimmy Page, King worked out his creative itch, plucking out vibrations, all the while saving to eventually buy an electric guitar.

Diamond discussed the thrill of thumbing through newspapers and music mags to see what tour dates if any were passing through Copenhagen. He talked of seeing Deep Purple in 1972 for their Fireball album. He recalled seeing a young Brian Johnson prior to joining AC/DC, touring with his previous band Geordie – watching the legendary frontman come into his own performing in a club for 150 people.

Photo: Jason Bailey

As the revered frontman shared his own journey of musical exploration, it became evident that his obsession was fully consuming. King Diamond’s most formative years, the years he spent cultivating an understanding for what he liked artistically, required being proactive. The information wasn’t immediate like it is now, but the added effort that went into his discovery made the sweet sounds he found that much more significant.

King Diamond would go onto share his experiences during the earliest days of touring – opting to drive 18-hours so as not to have to ride the entire way with a Marshall amp on your lap. He recalled sleeping in an empty school with no hot water to record what would be the first Mercyful Fate EP, getting just two days to change heavy metal forever.

The frontman almost chuckled when he recalled getting the luxury of six days to record Melissa and joys of getting eight days for Break the Oath. King Diamond revisited the less than reliable confines of the mobile home the band used to tour the U.S. fo the first time, citing that it broke down more often than not.

Despite the less than glamours digs, Mercyful Fate quickly made strides, getting picked up by Motorhead to tour together, cementing a long-tasting friendship with Lemmy. Diamond also shared that during the same year was when the band met Metallica at a tour stop show in San Francisco – The nexus other than music being Metallica’s drummer was also Danish. 

Not only did the two bands instantly hit it off, in fact, that same night Kirk knocked over King Diamond onstage when they band joined Mercyful Fate onstage for their last song. Legendary stuff.

The clown and King Diamond began to dissect the tangible quality of art and when the subject of photography worked it’s way into the conversation. Diamond shared that he used to carry an old Polaroid camera while out on the road. He talked about documenting the highs and lows of tour – from petting bobcats to nursing his own burn wounds in a San Antonio hotel room. Having those photos however, and being able to document those times, both good and bad, proved priceless. In fact, King Diamond spoke about still looking at those old pictures from time to time.

Photo: Natalia Stupnikova

Both clown and King Diamond shared the sentiment that the physical quality of being able to hold that photo functioned like a time machine, teleporting the photographer right back to the very moment that picture was snapped. 

The conversation seemed to regularly revisit the notion of proactive discovery loaning itself to an enduring quality. The reality is that while any and everything is now available in an instant, the convenience, the lack of struggle, means it’s easier to take it for granted.

Both clown and King Diamond attribute those endless hours getting lost in listening to records and studying album covers to not only cementing their creative identity, but the reaffirming their appreciation for those that helped paved their creative career paths just the same. When you work for anything, it just matters more.

Stream the LEGENDARY conversation between clown and King Diamond below.

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