Few hard rock bands are as widely respected yet criminally overlooked as King’s X. The trio (bassist/vocalist Doug Pinnick, guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor, and drummer/vocalist Jerry Gaskill) seemed destined for the big time with their irresistible blend of melodic Beatlesque harmonies, metallic riffing, and prog rock detours, yet for reasons unknown, never truly broke through to a mainstream audience. Pinnick (b. September 3, 1950) first met Gaskill (b. December 27, 1957) when the duo was touring with the Christian rock outfit Petra, and soon after, met up-and-coming guitarist Tabor (b. September 17, 1961). Kings X joined forces in 1980 with the Top 40 cover band the Edge and thoroughly played the Missouri bar scene. By 1983, the band had changed its name to Sneak Preview and was now completely focusing on original compositions — resulting in an obscure and very hard to find self-titled debut album released around this time.
Sneak Preview were offered a recording contract in 1985 if they relocated to Houston, TX, which they did, but the deal failed to materialize. Undeterred, the trio continued on and perfected its sound and songwriting further, catching a break when ZZ Top video producer Sam Taylor took the group under his wing, helping it secure a recording contract with New York’s Megaforce label in 1987, and suggesting that the band change its name to King’s X (the name of a local outfit that Taylor was an admirer of back in his high-school days).
In 1988, King’s X released their debut album, Out of the Silent Planet. Despite praise among critics, the public didn’t know exactly what to make of the group’s original and multiple genre-encompassing style, and the album sank without a trace. But with the band’s sophomore release, 1989’s classic Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, a buzz began to develop around King’s X in the metal community, as members of Anthrax and Living Colour praised them in the press, and MTV granted a few airings of their anthemic track “Over My Head.” The stage was set for the group’s big breakthrough, and things appeared to be going according to plan when the band’s third release, Faith Hope Love, surfaced in late 1990.