Jerry Gaskill had a heart attack.
You're probably asking, "who's Jerry Gaskill?" The fact that you're asking that question kind of upsets me. It upsets me when extremely talented musicians have to labor on the hardest circuits, and no-talent hacks scoop up Grammys and millions of dollars.
Gaskill is the drummer for, in my book, THE underrated American band, King's X. They were just about to embark on a US tour, but that's had to be scuttled, for obvious reasons. Now, more than anything, I wish Jerry a quick and full recovery. That's more important than anything.
However, this has just reminded me how fragile this band is, and has been. There's been rumors of a break-up at the release of every album since 1996's Ear Candy. That album even had the lyric "last time aboard the train that goes around the world," and fans feared the worst.
We feared, even though we understood. The band has faced an uphill climb from almost day one. They were older than your average "rock star" (Bassist/primary singer Dug Pinnick was 38 when their first major label album was released - he's 61 now). They were lumped into the fading "hair metal" movement when their first album, Out of the Silent Planet, was released in 1988. They were also lumped into the "Christian Rock" genre by their original producer/manager, with the double problem of the assumptions made by the public based on that label, and that the band's subject matter was never that cut and dried.
Honestly, I am not overly religious, but the subject matter of the bands music, in any phase of their career, has never phased me. I was comfortable because the band has never, ever felt like preachers for anything other than Rock and Roll. Even tracks that were rather overtly pro-life never felt like more than a personal sadness over the procedures taking place, at all, rather than a condemnation (Plus, it's just a beautiful song, and I'm not one to let my political beliefs override a lovely work of art). Whereas, with one-note bands like Petra, the music seemed an excuse for preaching, King's X made it very clear that the music was far more important than any religious agenda. I also appreciate that, when the religious material did appear, it was all, in the main, positive. Much like my early years in the Methodist Church, I enjoy the idea that the gospel is "the Good News" rather than some hellfire and brimstone terror story.
So, anyway...yes, King's X is a band that has a history as a contemporary Christian act. A history that has been left pretty far behind. What was left was expert musicianship from Gaskill on drums, Pinnick on bass, and Ty Tabor on guitar, and a sound that preceded the heavy and melodic revolution that we know as "grunge." King's X was vastly heavy, with Pinnick even using a 12-string bass at times, full of bottom end and groove, layered with very melodic vocals, punctuated with almost Beatle-esque harmonies. They've been sited as influences to many of those Seattle bands that made it so huge (Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam is a huge fan).
The band has struggled, touring in vans and buses for more than 20 years. Consistently putting out albums, 15 studio albums, to date, with various live albums, as well, but never really reaching the level of stardom, I think, and have thought for a long while, they deserved. The band has been a "pet project" for me, I drag people to shows, give them mix CD, to try to spread the word...
Like the band says, if you like what you hear...go tell somebody.