James Kottak, the legendary drummer and Scorpions member who blazed trails in the late 80s rock scene, has passed away in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, according to his daughter. He was 61.
“Sad news from the rock world today as we report the unfortunate passing of James Kottak,” Metal Sludge wrote. “A source close to the Kottak camp has confirmed the news that the drummer died early this morning in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. It is believed that Kottak died of an apparent cardiac arrest,” they wrote.
Kottak’s exact cause of death has yet to be confirmed, but sources close to the band suggest it may have been a heart attack.
Best known as the drummer for Kingdom Come, Kottak mirrored the style of iconic Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, pounding out chart-topping hits like “Get It On” and “Do You Like It” that first drew the comparisons. Their German-based band made their initial run from 1987 to 1989, exploding on the scene and cementing Germany as a hard rock capital of the world that would later produce Scorpions and Rammstein, both staples of the genre today.
In 1996, Kottak sat with Scorpions for a two-decade run until being dismissed in 2016 due to his struggles with alcoholism. Kottak described his recovery in 2019 as a “work in process.”
“Over the last 10 years, I would say I was 90 percent sober, and then I’d have these struggles and I’d go through a bad two- or three-week period. So right now it’s, like I said, to use a cliché, it’s one day at a time and I work the program. I still go out, and if you wanna drink a bottle of Jack in front of me, go for it — [it’s] no big deal — but it is, like I said, a work in progress,” he told Detroit’s 101 WRIF.
Known outside of rock for his politically conservative views, Kottak made waves for expressing his dissatisfaction with Germany’s acceptance of migrants and Hollywood’s overuse of interracial couples on the big screen.
“I wrote a new song…. ‘Get out of My Kountry’ ie: stay out of my space! We don’t need anymore outsiders. We can’t even fix the homeless problems?! When homeless problem is solved we take care everyone else…” he wrote on Twitter in 2019.
“You know I am sick of every other commercial having inter racial couples…this is not reality. It is Hollywood shoving it down our throat. I don’t have one friend or friends who live in this category…just saying,” he wrote later that same year.