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KROKUS

Current Members

Past Members

Biography

1974 to 1980

KROKUS is without question Switzerland's biggest grossing Rock act. Originally created in Soluthurn during 1974 KROKUS achieved success in Europe before concentrating on America under the auspices of gun toting, ex-BLACK OAK ARKANSAS manager Butch Stone. Riff driven albums such as 'Metal Rendezvous' and 'Headhunter' have always been credited as excellent slabs of Hard Rock and the band have, more or less, retained a loyal fan following to this day. Despite this solid showing though KROKUS has also suffered under a weight of criticism that has marked them as AC/DC copyists. Indeed, the band's early works are often stylistically more than just similar.

The original KROKUS line-up that recorded the debut album comprised of vocalist / guitarist Thomi Kiefer, drummer and pianist Chris Von Rohr, bassist Remo Spadino and guitarist Hansi Droz. Peter Richard was added to the group in a guest vocalist capacity. KROKUS' eponymous debut was recorded in November and December 1975 and issued initially through the Phonogram affiliated Schnautz label.

The line-up for the ensuing Peter MacTaggart produced 'To You All' album, recorded at Sinus Studios in Bern and released in 1977, saw the addition of ex-MONTEZUMA members guitarist Fernando Von Arb, Freddy Steady on drums and Jürg Naegeli on bass together with Kiefer and Von Rohr. The latter was now handling vocals and keyboards. However, other studio musicians credited included vocalist Peter Richard, bassist Remo Spadino and keyboard player Michi Szabo. The group did actually add vocalist Henry Friez for a brief period, but he soon departed leaving Von Rohr to adopt permanent vocal duties.

However, in 1978 Von Rohr gave up the vocal chores to concentrate on bass as Naegli moved to keyboards. Maltese born Marc Storace, formerly with Swiss Jazz-Rock act TEA, the band that had released an eponymous album in 1975 for Phillips, joined in an effort to make a name for KROKUS on the international market.

With the recording of the landmark 'Metal- Rendezvous' album, produced by on which Marc Storace made his recording debut with the band, KROKUS promptly slogged around the European tour circuit supporting the likes of TED NUGENT, RAINBOW and NAZARETH. During a break in the band's schedule Storace managed to contribute lead vocals to the London act EASY MONEY's demo, a band he had befriended on his relocation to the British capital. A track from the tape ('Telephone Man') turned up on the 'Metal For Muthas Volume 2' compilation album. The KROKUS cast of Marc Storace, guitarist Mandy Meier, bassist Thommy Kaiser and drummer Freddy Steady also all appeared on the 1979 PAGANINI single 'Weapon Of Love'.

Their first real breakthrough came with a series of British shows with support bands GIRLSCHOOL, MORE and ANGEL WITCH, including Loch Lomond and Reading festivals, to promote the release of the 'Metal-Rendezvous' album in Britain during the summer of 1980. The band's electrifying set at the Reading Festival in particular gaining the group a whole host of new fans.

Earlier in the Summer, KROKUS completed a first set of American dates, opening for the likes of SAMMY HAGAR, AC/DC and CHEAP TRICK. At this time Naegeli, by now more of a side-man anyway, departed and KROKUS comprised a strong quintet of Storace, Von Arb, Von Rohr, Kiefer and Steady and were forging out a large fan base in the Britain and Europe and would soon reap rewards in America.

1981 to 1983

New album 'Hardware' charted in 1981, achieving number 44 in the UK and a number 103 place in the USA, and had KROKUS putting in a major theatre sized tour of Britain. Unfortunately, In 1981 Kiefer left (sadly committing suicide on 24th December 1986) and his place was taken by Mandy Meyer for 1982's 'One Vice At A Time'. This album strengthened the band's stature, hitting number 28 in the UK and 53 in the USA. However, Meyer would quickly depart, leaving to form COBRA in America (prior to joining ASIA, ASHTON, STEALING HORSES and KATMANDU) Meyer was in turn replaced by a former KROKUS guitar tech and ex-DETROIT member Mark Kohler.

In 1982 KROKUS toured North America as support to RAINBOW, MOTÖRHEAD, RUSH and CHEAP TRICK. The band also displayed their status as being Switzerland's number one Rock band by being the only act ever to sell out the 10'000 seater Hallenstadion in Zurich.

The 1983 album 'Headhunter' was produced by 'Colonel' Tom Allom, famed for his work with JUDAS PRIEST, and Allom's connections allowed Storace to form a potent duet with a guesting JUDAS PRIEST vocalist Rob Halford on the track 'Ready To Burn'.

'Headhunter', reaching number 25 on the Billboard charts, provided KROKUS with their first million seller in America. However, the record heralded a new KROKUS line-up with longtime drummer Freddy Steady having been replaced by former HYDRA and WHITFORD ST. HOLMES man Steve Pace after the so called 'World Vice' tour; seemingly choosing Pace over 50 other drummers auditioned in New York. Steady later teamed up with Italian vocalist GIANNA NANNINI and toured Europe until forming STEADY in 1985 with his wife Heather Rodelius.

A continually fluid line-up tended to blight KROKUS throughout the band's history, but at their peak the band always retained the nucleus of Storace, and Von Arb. Amongst the many musicians who can boast a stint in KROKUS is ex CROWN guitarist Patrick Mason, joined in 1983, albeit briefly, to replace Mark Kohler. Mason later joined CHINA.

 

KROKUS toured America once more in 1983 as special guests on DEF LEPPARD's 'Pyromania' tour, but were given the boot when the two bands fell out heavily; DEF LEPPARD vocalist Joe Elliott accusing Storace of stealing his stage raps! KROKUS in turn fired counter accusations at DEF LEPPARD. Nevertheless, KROKUS completed their American trek by supporting JUDAS PRIEST.

1984 to 1988

By 1984 their extensive roadwork in America, including a double headliner with SAMMY HAGAR, was paying off and KROKUS could command sizable audiences for their own headlining tours. At one headline gig in Chile the band performed to an audience of over 80'000. However, the line up continued to fluctuate with American ex-COBRA drummer Jeff Klaven and former BLACK OAK ARKANSAS bassist Andy Tanas being the latest additions to fill the gap left by Chris Von Rohr and Steve Pace. In actual fact, a returning Mark Kohler had filled Von Rohr's shoes initially before he returned to a guitarist's role with the arrival of Tanas.

1984 would see the issue of 'The Blitz' album, this preceded by a cover version of the SWEET's anthem 'Ballroom Blitz'. Unusually, this track was the sole live inclusion, having been taped in one take on June 5th 1984. Recorded at Little Mountain Sound in Vancouver, Canada, the album saw production credits going out to Bruce Fairbairn whilst engineering was delegated to Bob Rock. JIMI JAMISON of SURVIVOR provided backing vocals whilst Doug Johnson contributed keyboards. BRYAN ADAMS and his writing partner Jim Vallance scored co-composition credits on the track 'Boys Nite Out'.

'The Blitz' scored a number 31 placing on the national US album charts. KROKUS embarked on an American tour in early 1985 with support acts KEEL and ZENO, but these dates were pulled soon into the tour when Kohler badly injured his leg. KROKUS completed a re-arranged headline tour of America later in the year supported by ACCEPT and ROUGH CUTT. Inevitably, the group changed shape again when, in late 1985, Tanas was superseded by another ex-COBRA member Tommy Keiser. The group continued touring in America the following year, eventually rounding off live dates in 1986 with a prestigious special guest slot to VAN HALEN at the 'Texxas Jam' festival.

1986's studio effort, 'Change Of Address', featuring a cover version of ALICE COOPER's seminal 'Schools Out', saw production credits going out to Tom Werman and engineering duties handled by Duane Baron. 'Schools Out' provided the band with generous American airplay, reaching number 67 on the charts, KROKUS' highest ever US hit single. 'Change Of Address' hit number 45 on the US charts. Surprisingly, after the release of the 'Change Of Address' and the long overdue live set 'Alive And Screamin'', number 97 in the USA, Chris Von Rohr returned to the camp (having recorded a solo album, 'Hammer And Tongue' in the interim) to oust Keiser in 1987. Ex-KILLER drummer Dani Crivelli came in to replace Klaven. The American would post KROKUS form ROYAL JELLY and EGODOG, the latter with members of Norwegian act OSLO. 1998 found Klaven in JABBERWOCKY, the side project of WARRANT men Jani Lane, Danny Wagner and Rick Steier.

The new pairing were very much in evidence on KROKUS' brand new album, 'Heart Attack', issued in early 1988 on new label MCA Records. The album, self-produced by Von Arb and Von Rohr, featured a re-working of 'Winning Man', a track originally found on the 'Hardware' album. 'Heart Attack' had been recorded in the band's home country, at Pink Tonstudios in Solothurn, subsequently mixed by Michael Wagener. Former band member Jürg Naegeli gained engineering credits. 'Heart Attack' managed a number 87 place on the US charts but made it into the top 5 in Switzerland.

KROKUS returned to live action in Britain with a one-off appearance at the Hammersmith Odeon in London opening for TED NUGENT before commencing road work in the United States.

1989 to 2003

Unfortunately, upon completion of their 'Heart Attack' North American tour KROKUS effectively split, when both Von Arb and Storace walked out the door. The remaining trio of Von Rohr, Kohler and Crivelli attempted to pick up the pieces with Swedish born, ex-BALTIMOORE vocalist Björn Lodin and HEADHUNTER, KILLER and AIN'T DEAD YET guitarist Manny Maurer, but this link-up was short-lived. Following the split of the band Mark Kohler reunited with former KROKUS colleague drummer Freddy Steady in the STEVE THOMSON BAND touring America in 1989. Kohler then formed THREAT.

Fernando Von Arb reunited with erstwhile KROKUS keyboard player Jürg Naegeli to form THE HEAVYS. Under the pseudonyms of Rob Weiss and Ben Branov for Von Arb and Walter Hammer for Naegeli, the pair released two albums of Rock medleys. Completely re-recorded, these albums proved extremely popular in Switzerland. The albums also feature vocalist Peter Tanner (later to join KROKUS) and Chris Von Rohr.

A new KROKUS was assembled by Von Arb to issue the 1990 album 'Stampede' through Phonag Records. The revised line-up comprised of Von Arb, Maurer, AIN'T DEAD YET bassist Tony Castell and ex-CALHOUN CONQUER and AIN'T DEAD YET drummer Peter Haas and vocalist Peter Tanner. The latter had previously gone under the stage name of 'McTanner' with his former acts HEADHUNTER and BLOODY SIX. 'Stampede', a self-produced effort, was recorded at Pink Tonstudios in Solothurn, Switzerland.

Meantime, Storace teamed up with Italian ex-TOAD guitarist VIC VERGAT to form the AOR band BLUE in the early 90's, with whom the Maltese vocalist recorded a rather critically acclaimed album. Haas joined BABYLON SAD in 1992 whilst Tanner created MR. PERFECT.

News would leak out that Von Arb had been diagnosed with lymphoma cancer but had battled his way back to full health. With renewed vigour Von Arb attempted to reform KROKUS once more in 1994 releasing a four track CD EP in Europe that featured a version of BACHMAN TURNER OVERDRIVE's 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet' plus two live tracks recorded in early 1994. By 1995 KROKUS had resolved their differences with Storace and announced a more spectacular reformation of the band. With a line-up featuring Storace, Von Arb, bassist Manny Maurer, Mark Kohler and drummer Freddy Steady. The resulting album, 'To Rock Or Not To Be', saw strong European sales and a top 5 album in their home country of Switzerland.

The KROKUS trio of Von Rohr, Naegeli and Meyer were to provide a substantial contribution to their country mates GOTTHARD's Swiss number 1 album 'D-Frosted' in 1997.

A planned European tour for KROKUS did not materialise though. Storace was out of the picture once again and auditions found a Brit at the helm in the form of erstwhile frontman Carl Sentence for the 'Round 13' album. Sentence had fronted PERSIAN RISK, TOKYO BLADE and ex UFO guitarist PAUL CHAPMAN's act GHOST. Sentence also appears as lead vocalist on the 1986 TREDEGAR album. New on guitar was Chris Lauper and Haas returned on drums.

For a subsequent European tour, which included a string of UK club dates, KROKUS drafted drummer Cliff Rodgers.

American Death Metal band DECEASED covered 'Headhunter' on their 2000 live album. Coincidentally German Metal crew IRON SAVIOR covered the same track on their 'I've Been To Hell' EP.

Storace re-emerged in 2000 to create his new act DC WORLD. Bearing in mind the AC/DC comparisons that had dogged KROKUS throughout their career DC WORLD was a brave move. The entire album 'DC World' was a medley of AC/DC hits featuring Storace handling Bon Scott era material with 'Stampede' era KROKUS vocalist Peter Tanner taking on the Brian Johnson numbers. The album, produced by GOTTHARD's Leo Leoni, also included ex-KROKUS bassist Tony Castell, guitarists Dominique Farez and J.J. Bozzy and drummer Pat Holzey. It came of little surprise to learn that Farez, Bozzy and Tanner also operated on the live circuit as tribute band AC/CD!

KROKUS, with Castell back on bass, would enlist guitarist Dave Stettler and former CRASHIN' drummer Marcel Kopp for live work in 2001. The band announced the return of Marc Storace and a string of U.S. West Coast gigs for June 2002 and a studio album, 'Rock The Block' recorded at Soundlake Studio in Lausanne, Switzerland, for early 2003 through the WEA Switzerland label. The album duly landed at No. 1 in the Swiss charts upon release. Predictably the line up had undergone further changes, introducing Dominique Favez in place of Stettler and also seeing Patrick Aeby on drums, both new members brought in from Castell's AC/CD covers band. Favez was also with DC WORLD.

Headline touring in Switzerland throughout March and April saw CRYSTAL BALL as support. An extensive European trek throughout September saw SHAKRA as support. During the Summer it would be revealed that Storace, retaining his KROKUS membership, was to act as guest lead vocalist for veteran Californian Heavy Metal band WARRIOR.

KROKUS recorded tracks for a double live album, 'Fire & Gasoline', for release in January 2004. Meantime Reality Entertainment took on the previous studio album 'Rock The Block' for US distribution in June.

2004 to 2007

KROKUS delivered a double live album / DVD package 'Fire & Gasoline' in January 2004. As was tradition, the album scored high on the Swiss charts. Live dates in February had the band traversing Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Meantime, the 2003 studio album 'Rock The Block' was granted a US release via Reality Entertainment in June, the band projecting follow up live shows for August.

Taking time out from KROKUS activities Marc Storace featured in a semi-acoustic show dubbed 'Acoustical Mountain' at the Verbier Xtreme snowboarding competition in March. The singer also put in an an appearance in his homeland of Malta at the sixth annual 'Music Marathon', an eveny held in aid of local children's charities, held at Simon's Pub in Sliema. Erstwhile KROKUS vocalist Carl Sentance re-emerged fronting WHOLE LOTTA METAL, alongside co-vocalist TONY MARTIN of BLACK SABBATH repute, a seasoned cast of British Metal session musicians assembled for a touring cast of cover versions.

In a surprise move in February 2005 KROKUS dispensed with Fernando von Arb and re-instated former guitarist Mandy Meyer. Marc Storace took time out to guest vocalise on an album for BISS, then formed up a one-off power trio, alongside Steve Lee of GOTTHARD and Gigi Moto, to record a QUEEN melody for the Swiss SFDRS TV show 'Benissimo'. KROKUS spent the Summer recording a new album and lined up US dates for September, their first in over seven years. Drummer Patrick Aeby exited in November.

The band, working with Dennis Ward of PINK CREAM 69, entered a studio in Southern Germany as 2006 opened to cut a new album. KROKUS headline gigs across Germany in May saw AXXIS as support. Joining the band on drums would be Stefan Schwarzmann, scene veteran of such acts as U.D.O., ACCEPT, RUNNING WILD, SKEW SISKIN, X-WILD, MOON'DOC, ULI JON ROTH and VOICE. The band's new record would be contracted to German label AFM Records in July. Upon its release, 'Hellraiser' hit number 2 on the Swiss charts. Touring would be completed, despite Stefan Schwarzmann suffering from a ruptured umbilical hernia.

Storace guested on two tracks, 'Broken Hearts' and 'First Way Out', included on Swiss outfit BEGGAR'S BRIDE's debut October 2006 album 'Boulevard Of Broken Hearts'. The band gave their first ever live show in Greece on January 12th at the Athens Anclub. In February KROKUS acted as special guests to HAMMERFALL's European dates.

The classic KROKUS line-up, singer Marc Storace, guitarist Fernando Von Arb, bass player Chris Von Rohr, drummer Freddy Steady and Mark Kohler on rhythm guitar, reunited for an appearance on 18th November 2007 on a TV show honoring the greatest Swiss songs of all time. The 'Die grössten Schweizer Hits' program featured KROKUS performing a medley of the tracks 'Tokyo Nights', 'Bedside Radio' and 'Heatstrokes'. KROKUS, in between recording tracks for a comeback album, played its only concert of 2008 on 2nd August at the Stade De Suisse stadium in Bern, Switzerland. 

KROKUS signed a new recording contract with Sony Music in February 2009. The group subsequently recorded the official song of the Ice Hockey World Championship, held in Zurich and Bern. Chris Von Rohr and Fernando Von Arb wrote the track, entitled 'Live For The Action'. KROKUS performed the song live in Bern at the opening game of the Ice Hockey World Championship between Switzerland and France, this event broadcast via television to 800 million viewers in over 100 countries.

The group broke from recording sessions to headline a festival on 5th August in Zofingen, Switzerland.

Garry Sharpe-Young

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