By Andrew Catania
Kerry King, also known as KFK (Kerry Fuckin’ King) is as unconventional as a thrash metal guitarist as his self-abbreviated nickname. Although he was extremely intelligent in school with an affinity for numbers, he witnessed his grades plummet when he became more fascinated with girls instead.
As he deviated away from the college route for a more adventurous life, he realized that the ideal career for him would be one in music where he can have the best of all world’s – the music, the parties, the women and the alcohol. In 1981, when he was merely 15, he auditioned to be a part of a band as a guitarist. Instead, Jeff Hanneman approached him after his audition and the two of them began to practice the classic tunes of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest.
Little did they know that their little band which they named Slayer back in 1981 would lead to their band one day being recognized as one of the most famous thrash metal bands across the world.
Slayer is today recognized as one of the “big four” thrash metal bands along with Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax. Apart from being dedicated to Slayer since it was co-founded by King, King has also been associated as a guest guitar player for legendary thrash metal and heavy metal artists and bands such as Megadeth, Marilyn Manson, Sum 41, Beastie Boys and Rob Zombie.
The key to Slayer’s success was its release of the album Reign in Blood in 1986, just 3 years after Slayer debuted as a band. In a span of one decade, Slayer sold almost 5 million copies in the United States itself. The music has been deeply inspired by King’s opinions on life itself. The band dictates issues of murder, serial killers, terrorism and anti –religion, the last which is deeply close to King’s heart himself. Extremely anti-establishment, King resonates the belief of living and let live and believes that organized religion goes against basic freedom of living life on one’s terms.
This connection with victims of establishment, criminals, terrorism, religion etc. is probably why Slayer’s music has been described as one following a “wailing style” by Steve Huey of AllMusic. Post Hanneman’s death in 2013, Kerry King became the sole leader of Slayer.
He is now keeping the voice of the band on point with the vision King and Hanneman had initially planned for Slayer and is now also the writer for all the music along with being the lead guitarist for the band. His music continues to evolve and remains dedicated to all the underdogs and outcasts that King believes are victims of establishments and more evolved than those who follow conventional beliefs. Till date, King’s style remains anything but conventional.