A hard rock group founded in 1985 by legendary kit man Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Blue Murder), King Kobra issued three LPs in the mid- to late '80s that ran the gamut from heavy metal to AOR. They disbanded in 1989, but reconvened in 2010 with a retooled lineup and issued two full-length albums, King Kobra and King Kobra II, via Frontiers Records. The group ceased operations again in 2013, but re-formed for a series of live dates in 2016.
Appice formed the group after leaving Ozzy Osbourne's band in 1984, enlisting help from vocalist Mark Free, guitarists David Michael-Phillips and Mick Sweda, and bassist Johnny Rod. Employing an infectious mix of hooks and guitar pyrotechnics, the newly minted quintet issued their debut album, Ready to Strike, on EMI in 1985. A sophomore outing, Thrill of a Lifetime, arrived the following year and featured the hit "Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)," which served as the theme song for the military action film Iron Eagle. The band, which now included Appice, vocalist Johnny Edwards, guitarists Phillips and Jeff Northrup, and bassist Larry Hart, went the independent route for album number three, the aptly named King Kobra III, releasing it in 1988 via New Renaissance. Appice decided to put the group out to pasture the following year and join guitarist John Sykes (Thin Lizzy, Tygers of Pan Tang, Whitesnake) in his new project Blue Murder.
In 2010, Appice brought together the classic lineup of Mick Sweda, David Michael-Philips, and Johnny Rod, and new vocalist Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), and began recording a new album. The resulting eponymous King Kobra was released the following year on Frontiers Records. King Kobra II arrived in 2013 with the same lineup, but the group called it quits shortly after its release, citing its members' myriad other commitments as the reason. The band, minus Mick Sweda, re-formed in 2016 for a handful of live dates. ~ James Christopher Monger