Kerry Ray King (born June 3, 1964) is an American musician, best known as a guitarist for the American thrash metal band Slayer. He co-founded the band with Jeff Hanneman in 1981 and has been a member ever since.
King was born in Los Angeles, California. His father was an aircraft parts inspector, and his mother was an employee of a telephone company. Kerry attended Warren High School in Downey, CA and started learning guitar at Calvano's Music in South Gate.
In 1981 King was at a session trying out for the position of guitarist in a band. After the session was over Jeff Hanneman approached him and the two began playing Iron Maiden and Judas Priest songs with the session's drummer. King and Hanneman decided to start their own band.
King's trademark personal appearance and extensive tattoos were praised to such a degree by Blender magazine that they produced a tour of his body ink. King's acronym, KFK, was revealed to mean "Kerry Fuckin' King" in the January 2007 Issue of Guitar World. King currently resides in Corona, California.
In addition to appearing on Slayer's albums, he has also made several guest appearances. While lending production to 1986's Reign in Blood, Rick Rubin was also helping with production of the Beastie Boys' debut album Licensed to Ill. Rubin felt the track "No Sleep till Brooklyn" needed a guitar solo, so he called on King to lay down the part. King has since commented that his playing ability "certainly wasn’t that of a virtuoso". "No Sleep till Brooklyn", whose title was a spoof on Motörhead’s 1981 live album No Sleep 'til Hammersmith, was originally intended to feature King being knocked offstage by a gorilla in its music video although King refused. King replied, "If there’s gonna be anyone knocking anyone offstage, it’ll be me knocking the gorilla", which was what subsequently happened. King has reminisced that he thought the Beastie Boys were cool, although he had never heard any of their music at the time.
On Licensed to Ill, King also played the guitar solo on the song "Fight For Your Right (To Party)".
King contributed a lead guitar outtro part to Pantera's song "Goddamn Electric", which appeared on the 2000 album Reinventing the Steel. King’s rig was set up in Pantera’s bathroom backstage just after Ozzfest in Dallas, as the group still did not have their own dressing room, on top of not appearing on the festival bill. After King had finished the first take, Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell ran in and yelled "DON'T LET HIM DO IT AGAIN!" King tried again with the hope he would find a superior rendition, but the first take was used. King has also made several guest appearances in Marilyn Manson's "Rape Of The World" tour, joining the band to play classic tracks such as "Little Horn", "1996" and "Irresponsible Hate Anthem". Many fans noticed elements of King's own style used on these occasions. On October 21, 2010, the final date of the Jägermeister Music Tour, King joined Megadeth on stage at the Gibson Amphitheater in Hollywood, California to perform "Rattlehead" which was the first time in 26 years that King has shared the stage with Megadeth and Inan with his band.
Style And Influence
Kerry King's first experience with a guitar was when he was a child. Early albums, such as Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood, featured a "wailing style" and "demented soloing often mimicking the screams of the song's victims". Steve Huey of Allmusic described his and Jeff Hanneman's guitar solos as "wildly chaotic". Thom Jurek, also of Allmusic, described his work on 2006's Christ Illusion as creating "an intensely harrowing and angular riff that changes from verse to verse, through the refrain and bridge, and comes back again."
King listed Venom, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath as his favorite bands during the teen years. He cited Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing of Judas Priest as his biggest influences as a guitarist, that inspire his style, tone and gear. He mentioned Eddie Van Halen, Ted Nugent, Ronnie Montrose, Ritchie Blackmore, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Randy Rhoads as other influences.
King has been once divorced and had a daughter named Shyanne Kymberlee King with his first wife; his current wife is Ayesha King.
In a 2006 interview with Blabbermouth.net, King expressed his anti-religious views: "I don't really have a life philosophy; my thing is just rebelling against pretty much organized religion. That is my main thing, because personally I think it's a crutch for people that are too weak to get through life on their own. I'm the kind of guy that says if I don't see it, then it doesn't work. And nobody can show me God."
In October 2014, after being asked on how the progress of the upcoming Slayer album is coming with the recent death of Jeff Hanneman, King responded by saying that it's just "business as usual".