DOKKEN (1982–PRESENT). Classic lineup: Don Dokken (vocals), George Lynch (guitar), Jeff Pilson (bass), Mick Brown (drums).
One of the stalwarts of the hair metal scene of the 1980s, Dokken rose to prominence on the basis of strong songwriting and the presence of a bona fide guitar hero in guitarist George Lynch. With their rockers and power ballads, the band was a fixture on MTV in the eighties and enjoyed a string of best-selling albums through the decade.
Rising from the L.A. metal scene, the band was initially formed by vocalist Don Dokken in 1976 and featured drummer Mick Brown. In the late seventies George Lynch and future Ratt bassist Juan Croucier came on board and recorded Breaking the Chains for the European label Carerre Records, eventually released in 1983. After some success in Europe, Electra Records released the album in the U.S., and bassist Jeff Pilson joined the group. The band’s first album featuring the new lineup was Tooth and Nail, released in 1984. Featuring “Just Got Lucky,” “Into the Fire,” and the power ballad “Alone Again,” the album was highly successful, and the band became a fixture on radio, and, more importantly, on the burgeoning MTV. The album sold over a million copies and established Dokken’s signature sound, which combined Don Dokken’s relatively high and clear vocals with Lynch’s hard-edged rhythms and technically impressive yet melodic leads. In addition, the band’s general melodicism, especially evident on their power ballads, helped them appeal as much to female fans as to males.
After a successful tour supporting the Scorpions, the band returned in 1985 with the album Under Lock and Key and was similarly successful and featured the hits “In My Dreams” and “It’s Not Love.” Again, MTV exposure helped the band, and the video for “It’s Not Love” featured them performing on a flatbed truck as it cruised through the L.A. scenery.
Back for the Attack followed in 1987 and continued the band’s successful run, as the “hair metal” era reached its peak. The album contained the track “Dream Warriors,” which had been featured earlier in the film Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors. The song and its video helped to give the band their third consecutive platinum album.
After the release of the live album, Beast From the East, the growing tensions between Don Dokken and George Lynch that had been brewing through most of their collaboration came to a head, and the guitarist exited the group in 1988. The band subsequently folded, with Lynch forming the band Lynch Mob with drummer Brown, and Don Dokken forming his own short-lived solo group.
Dokken and Lynch collaborated in the writing of the song “We Don’t Own This World,” which appeared on Lynch’s 1993 solo album Sacred Groove. Later that year came the official reunion of the band. Signing with Columbia Records, they released the album Dysfunctional in 1995. Unfortunately, the album was poorly received by both critics and fans. Soldiering on, the band released the live acoustic album One Live Night on CMC Records in 1996. The studio album Shadowlife followed the next year, but none of these efforts stirred much enthusiasm among fans or critics. Finally, with Lynch leaving to reform Lynch Mob, the band hired ex-Winger guitarist Reb Beach and recorded Erase the Slate, released in 1999. Though Beach left the band in 2001, the band has continued to record and tour, though not at the levels of success that they had previously enjoyed.
Discography: Breaking the Chains (Elektra, 1982); Tooth and Nail (Elektra, 1984); Under Lock and Key (Elektra, 1985); Back for the Attack (Elektra, 1987); Beast from the East (Elektra, 1988); Dysfunctional (Columbia, 1995); One Live Night (Alex, 1995); Shadowlife (CMC International, 1997); Erase the Slate (CMC International, 1999); Long Way Home (Sanctuary, 2002); The Very Best of Dokken (Rhino, 1999); Japan Live ’95 (CMC International/Sanctuary, 2003); Hell to Pay (Sanctuary, 2004); From Conception: Live 1981 (Rhino, 2007); Lightning Strikes Again (King, 2007) .