Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon

Kings of Leon in concert at Festival Internacional de Benicàssim. From left to right, Matthew, Caleb and Nathan.
Background information
Origin Albion, Oklahoma, United States
Genres Rock, Southern rock, alternative rock, garage rock revival
Years active 1999–present
Labels Sony Music, RCA, Columbia, Island
Caleb Followill
Nathan Followill
Jared Followill
Matthew Followill

Kings of Leon is an American rock band that originated in Albion, Oklahoma but formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 1999. The band is composed of brothers Anthony Caleb Followill (b. January 14, 1982, lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Ivan Nathan Followill (b. June 26, 1979, drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Michael Jared Followill (b. November 20, 1986, bass guitar, backing vocals), with their cousin Cameron Matthew Followill (b. September 10, 1984, lead guitar, backing vocals). The group is named for their grandfather Leon from Talihina, Oklahoma.[1]

The band's early music was an upbeat blend of Southern rock and blues influences, but it has gradually expanded over the years to include a variety of genres and a more alternative, arena rock sound. Kings of Leon achieved initial success in the United Kingdom with a total of nine Top 40 singles, two BRIT Awards in 2008, and all three of the band's albums at the time peaking in the top five of the UK Albums Chart. Their third album, Because of the Times, also reached the No. 1 spot. After the release of Only by the Night in September 2008 the band achieved chart success in the United States. The singles "Sex on Fire", "Use Somebody", and "Notion" all peaked at No. 1 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album itself was their first ever Platinum-selling album in the United States, and was also the best-selling album of 2008 in Australia, being certified Platinum nine times. The band's fifth album, Come Around Sundown, was released on October 18, 2010.



Early years (1999–2002)

The three Followill brothers grew up in Oklahoma with their father, Ivan Leon Followill, a United Pentecostal Church preacher, and their mother, Betty-Ann. Caleb and Jared were both born in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee and attended Mount Juliet High School, while Nathan and Matthew were born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. According to Rolling Stone magazine, "While Ivan preached at churches and tent revivals throughout Oklahoma and the Deep South, the boys attended services and were occasionally enlisted to bang on some drums". They were either home-schooled by their mother, or enrolled in small parochial schools at this time. Except for a five-year period when they settled in Jackson, Tennessee, the Followills' childhoods were spent driving through the southern United States in a purple 1988 Oldsmobile, camping for a week or two wherever Ivan was scheduled to preach.[2]

When the boys' father resigned from the Church and their parents divorced in 1997, Nathan and Caleb relocated to Nashville and embraced the rock music and lifestyle they had previously been denied, attempting to break into the music industry in the process. While there, they met songwriter Angelo Petraglia who helped the siblings hone their songwriting skills and introduced them to the musical influences of Thin Lizzy,[3] The Rolling Stones and The Clash in particular. Their youngest brother, Jared, who had briefly attended public school, was more influenced by the music of the Pixies and The Velvet Underground. When he and their cousin Matthew also moved to Nashville in 1999, Kings of Leon was formed.

By 2002, Nathan and Caleb had received interest from a number of music labels and eventually signed with RCA Records, who at first insisted on putting a band together for the two of them. In an interview with Billboard, however, Nathan outlined how they told RCA, "We don't want to be Evan and Jaron. We're going to buy our little brother a bass, he's a freshman in high school. Caleb will teach himself the guitar, Matthew played guitar when he was 10 and I'll play the drums. They said, 'All right, we'll come down in one month and see you guys.'" Later in the interview Caleb admitted to the brothers "kidnapping" their cousin Matthew from his hometown in Mississippi in order for him to join the band. They told his mother that he was only going to be staying for a week but never allowed him to return home. "We locked ourselves in the basement with an ounce of marijuana and literally spent a month down there. My mom would bring us food down", added Nathan. "And at the end of that month the label people came and we had "Molly's Chambers", "California Waiting", "Wicker Chair", and "Holy Roller Novocaine".[4]

Holy Roller Novocaine (2002-2003)

The band's first record, titled the Holy Roller Novocaine EP, was released on February 18, 2003. At this stage, Jared was only 16 years old and had not learned to play the bass. The release of Holy Roller Novocaine gave the Kings of Leon a significant amount of exposure, receiving a 4/5 star rating from Rolling Stone magazine. All of the songs released on the EP were co-written by Angelo Petraglia, who also produced the record, and 4 of the 5 songs would later be released on Youth and Young Manhood. The versions of "Wasted Time" and "California Waiting" on the EP differ from their album versions, however, with the 1st having a more tense riff and different vocal style than the same track off Youth and Young Manhood, the 2nd being recorded in a rush to finish the EP. The EP also contains the song "Wicker Chair", while a track called "Andrea" was discarded before its release.[5]

Youth & Young Manhood (2003)

The Followills' debut album, Youth and Young Manhood, was released in the UK in July 2003 and in the United States later that August. The album was recorded between Sound City Studios in Los Angeles and Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, California. It was produced by Angelo Petraglia and Ethan Johns.[6] According to Rolling Stone magazine, the band's retro-chic look and blend of Southern boogie and gritty garage rock inspired comparisons to both Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Strokes. The album became a sensation in the UK and Ireland, where NME declared it "one of the best debut albums of the last 10 years" and The Guardian described the band as "the kind of authentic, hairy rebels The Rolling Stones longed to be". The album still failed to make any significant impact domestically, where reviews were generally lukewarm and the modern rock audience generally disinterested. In the United States Youth and Young Manhood sold only 100,000 copies, compared with the 750,000 copies it moved abroad.

Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004-2005)

The band's second album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, was released in the UK in October 2004 and in the United States in February 2005. Building on the southern-infused garage rock of their first album, the album broadened the band's domestic and international audience. The album was again produced by Angelo Petraglia and Ethan Johns. "The Bucket", "Four Kicks", and "King of the Rodeo" were all released as singles, with "The Bucket" rising into the Top 20 in Britain. "Taper Jean Girl" was also used in the 2007 movie Disturbia and the movie Cloverfield in 2008.[7] The band garnered accolades from several of their rock peers, including Elvis Costello, and also toured with Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam during 2005 and 2006.[8][9]

Because of the Times (2006–2007)

Kings of Leon performing at Leeds Festival in Leeds, UK in August 2007

In March 2006, Kings of Leon was back in the studio with producers Angelo Petraglia and Ethan Johns, working on a third album.[10] Guitarist Matthew told NME: "Man, we're sitting on a bunch of songs right now that we wish we could let the world hear". The band's third album was titled Because of the Times, which may be a reference to a church ministers conference of the same name held at The Pentecostals of Alexandria church in Alexandria, Louisiana, that the brothers often attended.[11]

The album was released on April 2, 2007, in the UK, and a day later in the United States, preceded by the single "On Call", which became a hit in the UK and Ireland. It debuted at number one in the UK and Ireland and entered the European charts at No. 25, selling approximately 70,000 copies in its first week of release. NME said that the album "cements Kings of Leon as one of the great American bands of our times."[12] and Entertainment Weekly called Because of the Times "an epic wide-screen movie of a CD and the band's best to date."[13] However, some critics found the album inferior to their previous efforts. Stylus Magazine rated it a C- and noted, "If they wanted us to take them serious this time around, they'd at least try to be right honest about their ascent into minor celebrity and not keep on with the yokel façade. Without cautionary yarns regarding life on the tour bus or banging supermodels, the bright-eyed, legs-stretched mood of the music rings just as hollow."[14] Dave Hood of Artrocker gave the album one star out of five, finding that, "Kings of Leon are experimenting, learning, and getting a bit lost."[15] Pitchfork Media contended that, "Because of the Times sound[s] suspiciously like a counterattack on womankind, launched from somewhere in the mid-1990s, deep inside a bruised, stadium-sized ego."[16]

In spite of the mixed recognition, the album spawned a number of hit singles in Europe, including "Charmer" and "Fans"[citation needed].

Only by the Night (2008–2009)

After recording throughout most of 2008, Kings of Leon released its fourth studio album, Only by the Night, on September 19, which subsequently entered the UK Albums Chart at No. 1 and remained there for one more week. The third and fourth singles were "Revelry" and "Notion". Only by the Night also had two single-week stints as the UK No. 1 album in 2009, one directly after the BRIT Awards. In the United States, the album reached No. 4 on the Billboard Charts.[17] Reception to the album was the most polarized yet, with the British press granting the album glowing reviews. Q magazine named Only by the Night "Album of the Year" for 2008. In the United States, reactions to the album were more mixed. Spin, Rolling Stone and Allmusic gave the album positive reviews, while Pitchfork Media gave the album a 3.8 out of 10.[18] The album was officially named as the UK's third-biggest-selling album of 2008[19] and the biggest-selling album of 2008 in Australia.[20] "Sex on Fire" was the first single released for download in the UK on September 8. The song became the band's most successful as it peaked at No. 1 in the UK and in Ireland. It was also the first song to chart No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock chart. The second single to be released from the album on December 8, 2008, was "Use Somebody", which achieved worldwide chart success and consistency, such as peaking at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart and also reaching top 10 chart positions in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United States. The album's popularity in Australia was confirmed with a total of four singles being voted into the world's largest music poll, the "Triple J Hottest 100". The song "Crawl" came in at number 70, "Closer" was voted No. 24 and "Use Somebody" finished No. 3 in the poll. However, their biggest success from Only By The Night was "Sex on Fire", which was voted No. 1 in the Hottest 100 poll for 2008 and No. 90 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time, 2009 poll.[21] "Sex on Fire" also won the band a Grammy Award at the 51st Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 8, 2009. They won Best International Band and Best International Album at the Brit Awards in 2009, where they also performed "Use Somebody" live.[22][23] Kings of Leon also performed on March 14, 2009, at Sound Relief, a benefit concert, for the Victorian Bushfire Crisis.[24][25] The song "Crawl" from this album was released as a free download on the band's website on July 28. The third and fourth singles were "Revelry", which peaked at No. 19 in New Zealand, and "Notion", which peaked at No. 24 in Belgian charts.[26] Only By The Night was certified Platinum in the United States by the RIAA for selling one million copies in less than a year after its release.[27]

In 2008, Kings of Leon headlined the Glastonbury Music Festival, and in 2009, the band headlined a number of music festivals, including Reading & Leeds, Rock Werchter, Oxegen, T in the Park, Gurtenfestival and Open'er Festival in Europe, along with Sasquatch, Lollapalooza,[28] and Austin City Limits in the United States.

The band released its first DVD, Live at the O2 London, England, on November 10, 2009. It was later released on Blu-Ray disc on November 24, 2009. The footage was filmed in London's O2 Arena on June 30, 2009, when the band performed a 22-song set in front of a sold-out crowd of over 18,000 fans. In an interview with, drummer Nathan stated, "England is really the first place we broke (...) We figured what better place to make a live DVD than where the fans have been the craziest for the longest."[29] The show featured songs from all four of the band's albums, and Nathan continued by saying, "We just put the cameras in the back of our minds and acted like they weren't even there."[29]

On January 31, 2010, Kings of Leon took home the Grammy Award for Record of the Year, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Rock Song for "Use Somebody" at the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.

Come Around Sundown (2010–2011)

In May 2010, Nathan Followill reported that the band had been recording in New York City since March 2010, and that, to their surprise, the tracks were coming out "chilled out", "beach-y" and more like their Youth and Young Manhood sound.[30] They had previously said, prior to getting back to the studio, that they would be looking to record a "darker" and "grungier" album.[31] The band's fifth album is called Come Around Sundown and was released on October 18, 2010 in the UK, and October 19, 2010 in the U.S.[32] It was recorded in Nashville and New York between February and June 2010 with Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King once more at the helm.

In June 2010, the band embarked on a tour visiting over 50 cities in North America and Europe. The tour dates ran from June 5 to September 23.[33]

Following the release of Come Around Sundown in Australia, the band released all the tracks from the new album on their website.[34]

Their success with Come Around Sundown continued as they received a Grammy nomination for best rock song in 2011 for the song "Radioactive."[35]

On July 27, 2011, singer Caleb Followill walked off stage during a concert in Dallas, Texas. After pausing several times throughout the show between songs to deliver speeches about battling with the heat, his voice difficulties and sometimes nearly incoherent rambling, he claimed he was going to leave the stage, vomit, drink a beer and return to play three more songs. He never returned, causing the rest of the band to apologize to the crowd and end the concert abruptly.[36] Bassist Jared Followill addressed the incident the following day, saying "I love our fans so much. I know you guys aren't stupid. I can't lie. There are problems in our band bigger than not drinking enough Gatorade."[37] On August 1, 2011, the band announced through their website that the remainder of their U.S. tour would be canceled with no reschedules due to dates they already have scheduled.[37]

Hiatus (November 2011-present)

On October 31, 2011, the band announced that after the conclusion of their Australian tour in November that they would be going on a half year hiatus. Nathan stated that the bands hiatus should not take any longer than 6 months.[38]

Band members

  • Caleb Followill (lead vocals & rhythm guitar)
  • Matthew Followill (lead guitar & backing vocals)
  • Jared Followill (bass guitar & backing vocals)
  • Nathan Followill (drums, percussion & backing vocals)


In other media

In early April 2011, an 87 minute film directed by Stephen C. Mitchell documenting the band's lives was shown at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival in New York, called Talihina Sky, the name of an early Kings of Leon track. The Tribeca premiere was followed by scheduling a "hometown" premiere at the deadCENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on June 8, 2011.[39]

The European premiere was hosted at the Edinburgh International Film Festival on June 25 [40] and was followed by a interview session with the band. UK distributor Revolver Entertainment streamed the movie and interview session to 150 UK cinemas for a "One Night Only" live screening event.[41] RCA Records has since announced that the film will be released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on November 1, 2011.[42]

See also


  1. ^ Stones, Rolling (2009). "Kings of Leon Revealed: 13 Things You Didn't Know About Rock's Hottest Band". Retrieved 2009-08-07 
  2. ^ Stones, Rolling. "Kings of Leon: Biography". Retrieved 2009-08-07 
  3. ^ Carbery, Genevieve. The Irish Times 29 October 2010. "Their musical journey is special. They have openly admitted that Thin Lizzy was one of their primary influences and they opened the first Slane in 1981."
  4. ^ Waddel, Ray (2009). Kings of the Road: After Conquering the U.K. and Europe, Kings of Leon are Finally Getting Their Due at Home. Billboard.'re%20going%20to%20buy%20our%20little%20brother%20a%20bass%2C%20he's%20a%20freshman%20in%20high%20school.%20Caleb%20will%20teach%20himself%20the%20guitar.&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-10-15. 
  5. ^ "Kings of Leon's Biography – Listen free and discover music at". 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  6. ^ Production Notes: Ethan Johns/Ryan Adams For Ryan Adams, Ethan Johns is THE FACILITATOR Bud Scoppa, Paste Magazine, March 24, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2008.
  7. ^ Disturbia (2007)
  8. ^ "Kings of Leon Overwhelmed By Bob Dylan-Starpulse Entertainment News Blog". Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  9. ^;jsessionid=C43C7F7650B28C194799FBC6AB33990E?action=2
  10. ^ Artist - Kings Of Leon - Nashville, Tennessee -[dead link]
  11. ^ "Taste the Lemon and Share It! Only RapidShare Downloads! - Kings Of Leon - Because of The Times (2007)". LemonShare.Net. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  12. ^ "Kings Of Leon - Kings Of Leon: Because Of The Times - Album Reviews". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  13. ^ Collis, Clark. "Because of the Times." Entertainment Weekly, March 30, 2007. Retrieved on February 05, 2008.
  14. ^ "Kings of Leon - Because of the Times - Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  15. ^ "Because of the Times". Artrocker. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  16. ^ "Kings of Leon: Because of the Times". Pitchfork. 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  17. ^ "Entertainment | Kings Of Leon reign over charts". BBC News. 2008-09-28. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  18. ^ "Album Reviews: Kings of Leon: Only By the Night". Pitchfork. 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2011-01-09. 
  19. ^ musicOMH (2009). "UK's biggest selling albums of 2008". p. 04. Retrieved 2009-08-04 
  20. ^ N.M.E. (2009). "Kings of Leon score 2008's top selling-album in Australia". N.m.e.. Retrieved 2009-08-04 
  21. ^ "Triple J Hottest 100 of all time". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  22. ^ Robert Booth and Rosie Swash (2009-02-18). "Duffy takes three Brit awards while Kings of Leon and Elbow also triumph | Music". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  23. ^ Beech, Mark (2009-02-18). "Duffy, Kings of Leon Win 2009 Brit Pop Music Awards". Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  24. ^ Brumby, John (2009-02-24). "Artists Unite For 'Sound Relief' Bushfire Benefit - Premier of Victoria, Australia". Premier of Victoria. Retrieved 2009-02-25. 
  25. ^ Mitchell, Geraldine (2009-02-24). "Coldplay, Kings of Leon to headline bushfire relief concerts". Herald Sun (The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd).,21985,25099180-661,00.html. Retrieved 2009-02-25. [dead link]
  26. ^ "Kings Of Leon - Revelry". 2009. p. 04. Retrieved 2009-08-04 
  27. ^ "Kings of Leon go platinum in the US". Bosso, Joe 08: 04. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-04 
  28. ^ "Kings of Leon - Lollapalooza 2009". Retrieved 2010-08-01. 
  29. ^ a b Graff, Gary (26). "Kings Of Leon Ready Remix Album, Live DVD". Retrieved September 7, 2009. 
  30. ^ "Kings Of Leon recording 'chilled out' and 'beach-y' new album | News". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  31. ^ "Kings Of Leon to release new album in 2010 | News". Nme.Com. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  32. ^ Kings of Leon's New LP Gets October Release Date
  33. ^ "KINGS_OF_LEON_OFFICIAL_SITE | new kings leon us tour dates". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  34. ^ Kings of Leon | Come Around Sundown
  35. ^ "Nominees And Winners". Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  36. ^ "Kings of Leon Cancel US Concert Date Due to Heat Wave". Retrieved 2011-08-01. 
  37. ^ a b "Singer on Fire! Kings of Leon Scrap Entire U.S. Tour While Caleb Followill Rests Up". E! Online. August 1, 2011. Archived from the original on August 1, 2011. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Kings of Leon plan hiatus | Orange UK". 2011-10-31. Retrieved 2011-11-12. 
  39. ^ "Blog Archive » Kings of Leon documentary Talihina Sky to rock deadCENTER Film Festival kick-off celebration". deadCENTER Film. 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  40. ^ "Talihina Sky: the Story of Kings of Leon | 2011 | Film Archive | Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011". 2011-06-26. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  41. ^ Lodderhose, Diana (2011-06-09). "Kings of Leon set for U.K. Q&A". Variety. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  42. ^ "Kings Of Leon Documentary 'TALIHINA SKY' Release Date For Blu ray And DVD - Red Carpet Crash". Red Carpet Crash. 2011-09-09. Retrieved 2011-10-15. 

External links

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