Sunday Old School: Dokken
In 1978 the band Dokken formed, it was soon after the band was composed of Don Dokken (vocals), George Lynch (guitar), Juan Croucier (bass), and Mick Brown (drums). They were wide-eyed and ready to rock, still there was no way anyone could predict a Grammy nomination, die-hard fans, and the Ultimate Warrior style armbands.
Their first album, Breaking The Chains, struggled on the charts and the band was nearly dropped by their label. Shortly after, Juan Croucier left in 1983 (to join Ratt) and was replaced by Jeff Pilson. In 1984 Dokken released the album Tooth and Nail. The album was a success, riding singles that included “Alone Again” and “Into The Fire” that were accompanied by epic videos.
Snow is falling, fire is in the background, and the band is wearing T-shirts with sleeves cut off. This is Dokken’s video for “Into The Fire”, a meteorologist’s worst nightmare. Twice I believe I see the string holding the helicopter that is circling over the heads of the band and also important to note: there is a fair amount of jumping over barbed wire in this video. If you have a phobia, proceed with caution. The video for “Alone Again” starts in black and white, panning past a creepy MOTEL looking neon signs. What is he doing there? Is this life on the road? Why is The Dukes of Hazard on the television? Lot’s of questions. Then Don Dokken splashes water on his face and then looks in a mirror. I believe this is the moment he decides that a future album will need to feature a song for Freddy Krueger. Back to the room. Don Dokken is lonely, maybe high (again, Dukes of Hazard); either way there doesn’t seem to be a lot of advice on how to beat being alone, more of a confession: I am alone, again.
Another year, another album, in 1985 the band released Under Lock and Key. Another successful album that included “The Hunter”, “In My Dreams”, and “It’s Not Love”. The video for “The Hunter” taught us that when walking streets littered with garbage, keep kicking the garbage, move it around. Then there is the “hunt” in the woods which over time looks more and more like a prequel to Warrant’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” video. In the end I’ve come to the conclusion that the band just wanted to be recorded while riding their bikes and driving cars fast. It works in a disheveled kind of way.
After success touring with the Scorpions the band recorded “Dream Warriors” for the third installment of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, including a remixed version on their album Back For The Attack, released in 1987. “Dream Warriors” was accompanied by a video that had the band interacting with characters from the horror flick. In hindsight, beating Twisted Sister to the punch on this one was no small feat. Back For The Attack was their third straight hit album. The band toured as part of the famous 1988 Monsters of Rock tour that included Van Halen, Metallica, and many more bands. After a tour in Japan the band released a live album titled Beast From The East. After much success Dokken did what many bands tend to do at this point, they broke up.
Referred to as “creative” differences the band split, sending Don Dokken and George Lynch their separate ways. Lynch and Brown would form Lynch Mob (no association with Ice Cube’s crew) and record the albums Wicked Sensation and Lynch Mob. Don Dokken released a solo album titled Up From The Ashes, leading to George Lynch to release a solo album titled Strange Highways (also, no association with Ice Cube’s crew). Don’s second solo project in 1995 turned into a Dokken reunion of sorts when they reunited and recorded Dysfunctional. The album had moderate success given the climate was all Seattle grunge and R.E.M. type bands. The brief return to good times would not last long as tensions between Dokken and Lynch continued into the recording of Shadowlife which Don believes was sabotaged by George to end Dokken for good.
After their brief reunion, change followed. In 1997 Lynch officially left the band and was replaced by John Norum who after a tour was replaced by Reb Beach. After the recording of another live album, Beach would also depart, unable to commit long term to the band. He was replaced by John Norum. Jeff Pilson also left the band and was replaced by Barry Sparks. With only Don Dokken and Mick Brown left the band released Long Way Home. After the tour Jon Levin was brought on to play guitar, cementing the line-up of Dokken, Brown, Levin, and Sparks that would last for a few years. In 2004 Dokken released Hell to Pay. Live albums and greatest hits would keep coming, then in 2008 Dokken release Lightning Strikes Again.
Since, their last album Dokken has stayed on the road, with many temporary musician changes along the way. Despite Lynch/Dokken reunion rumors nothing is eminent. The current line-up remains Dokken, Brown, Levin, and Sean McNabb.
After several great albums and a lesson on how to deal with being alone in a motel (smoke a joint and watch The Dukes of Hazard) the troubles between Dokken and Lynch were somewhat foreseen. In the video for “Breaking the Chains” we see Lynch featured as the main person, chained to a chair. This eventually leads to the climatic scene of Lynch breaking through the chains and into his guitar solo. I believe to be fair; there should have been two chairs.
INTO THE FIRE
BREAKING THE CHAINS
DREAM WARRIORS (unplugged)
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