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  • Rob Butterfield

FLYING PLANES WITH KERRY KING

Updated: May 8, 2019

And necking Jager!

Kerry King, metal legend. Pic courtesy of coffingear.com.

Most of you will know Kerry King as the heavily tattooed and mean-looking guitarist from the legendary metal band Slayer. I’ve had the pleasure of this man’s company on a few occasions. It would be wrong to say that I know Kerry King – mention my name to him and I have no doubt that he would have no idea who I was. But I have conversed with him, shared a table at dinner on a couple of occasions and necked a fair few Jager’s with him. And I've flown a plane with him... of sorts.


I’ll explain. Between 2003 and 2011 I had the honour and the privilege of playing in rock power trio the Chris George Band. For that period we were the official demonstrators for Marshall Amplification and as such would perform at numerous guitar shows and ‘clinics’ across the UK and beyond. It was a great gig and I’ll be eternally grateful to Chris (George) for giving me the opportunity to play bass for him.


The big event every year was the Frankfurt Musik Messe; an annual gathering of music brands from around the world where buyers, distributors and the general public would gather to see the latest gear on offer. There would always be a smattering of celebrity performances on various stages around the event and, luckily for us, a big pull was always the Live Room on the Marshall stand where we’d play 3-4 performances a day over the 4-day duration of the event. Over the years we were joined on stage by the likes of Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), Paul Gilbert (Mr Big), Phil Campbell (Motorhead), Dave Lombardo (Slayer) to mention just a few. It was a blast!


There would always be a big celebrity appearance or two on the Marshall stand as well. The assembled icons would, alongside Jim Marshall, happily sign posters for the throngs who patiently queued around the venue. Of particular note on these occasions were both Slash and Kerry King among others (not the same year I hasten to add). My meetings at this point would be no more than polite hello’s although I did get them both to sign posters (for my son of course!).


Anyway, a notable event during Musik Messe week would be the annual Marshall dinner which would take place at the hotel where the numerous members of the Marshall crew would be staying for the duration of the Musik Messe. Marshall distributors from around the world would attend and after a sumptuous dinner and prize-giving the Chris George Band would perform, with a smattering of invited guests, for a short 45-minute set. Check out this video of the year we got old Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden to perform alongside the then current Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich.


Jim (Marshall) would always invite along the various Marshall-using music icons who would on most occasions be seated with the band. It was on one of these occasions that we’d share the table with Kerry and, at the end of the night, end up necking copious amounts of Jagermeister with him from test-tube shaped glasses. And we would be back on stage at the Musik Messe by 11.00am the following day. Some of those performances were a little hazy!


But perhaps the most memorable evening with Kerry King would come a year after that event when he joined the Marshall crew at the Birmingham Guitar show at the NEC for signing duties and would then join us all for dinner at the Loch Fyne restaurant in Solihull later that night. It was mostly an uneventful evening. Great food, great conversation and lots of drinking which was kind of the law at these things. At some stage in the evening somebody fashioned their paper place mat into a paper plane which for some reason set off a desire for everyone assembled to produce their own, better flying design - Kerry included. The event would end up in us all standing, flying our ‘machines’ across the restaurant. It was bizarrely the most un-rock n’ roll thing to do but at the same time about as rock n’ roll as you can get - Slayer's Kerry King was a part of this… and he was super competitive! There must be some photographic memories of this somewhere but, for the moment, it remains one of my greatest rock n’ roll tales that you’ll just have to take my word for.


After all, how many of you can claim to have flown planes with Kerry King? I wager very few of you, if any.

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