James Kottak, the longest-serving drummer with German hard rock band Scorpions, has died at the age of 61. His daughter Tobi confirmed he passed away on Tuesday, 9 January 2024 in Louisville, KY.
Born on 26 December 1962 in Louisville, Kentucky, Kottak embarked on his musical journey at an early age. He would come to mainstream attention in 1988 with the release of the self-titled debut album by American/German hard rock band Kingdom Come. From the opening track Living Out of Touch to Side Two closer Shout It Out, Kottak’s drumming was a key driver of the band’s songs.
A second album, In Your Face, would follow some 14 months later. The band would split soon after the second single, Overrated, was released. This meant they were unable to complete a UK tour with W.A.S.P. (Blackie Lawless would then be forced to cancel the UK tour after guitarist and co-founder Chris Holmes quit the band.)
Kottak joined Scorpions in 1996, succeeding Herman Rarebell as the band’s drummer. Kottak would be replaced by Mikkey Dee on 12 North American headlining dates in 2016, with the move becoming permanent on 12 September 2016.
Kottak would cover drum duties in some Dio shows in 1997 when Vinnie Appice had pneumonia. He also played in his own band, Kottak, formerly known as KrunK.
“I reached out to James Kottak a month ago,” Great White guitarist Mark Kendall wrote on X (formally Twitter), “offering support and help with his alcoholism, but he wasn’t ready. I could have gotten him into rehab free through connections, and I told him that. I’m so sad to hear of his passing. I feel bad for everyone who loved him, and he had a grandchild. RIP”. Kendall is a proud, sober recovery advocate.
No cause of death is known at this time.