Former Scorpions drummer James Kottak dies aged 61

James Kottak, the former drummer for Scorpions, has died aged 61.

The news was announced by his daughter Tobi, who told TMZ that her father died yesterday morning (January 9) in his birthplace of Louisville, Kentucky. Currently, no cause of death has been shared.

The musician was most famed for his work with the German hard rock group Scorpions, for which he took on the role of drummer for 20 years.

Joining the band in 1996, he appeared on all of their albums from 1999’s ‘Eye II Eye’ to 2015’s ‘Return to Forever’. He was kicked out of the band for alcoholism in 2016 and later replaced by Motörhead’s Mikkey Dee, who remains in the line-up.

Before joining the band, Kottak was an original member of the band Kingdom Come in the ‘80s. He rejoined the band a couple of years after he was dismissed from Scorpions and remained in the group up until his passing. Elsewhere, he had also toured with bands including Warrant and Dio, and also took on vocal duties for the ‘90s band Krunk.

Other projects he had put his name to included Montrose, Bob Brickley Band, Nut House, Mister Charlie, Buster Brown, Wild Horses, The McAuley Schenker Group, and Ashba.

Kingdom Come bassist Johnny “JB” Frank confirmed the news of Kottak’s death on social media, writing “Rock Forever in Peace Brother James Kottak. James is in Heaven Now” (via Blabbermouth).

Great White guitarist Mark Kendall also shared his condolences on social media, writing: “I reached out to James Kottak a month ago offering support & help with his alcoholism but he wasn’t ready. I could have gotten him into rehab free through connections & I told him that. I’m so sad to hear of his passing. I feel bad for everyone who loved him & he had a grandchild. RIP.”

Similarly, former Judas Priest singer Tim “Ripper” Owens wrote on social media: “Horrible news about the passing of my buddy, band mate and amazing drummer James Kottak! We had some great times with A NEW REVENGE/PROJECT ROCK!! Here is a on the road video made to the ‘Here’s To Us’ demo! You will be missed”.

Elsewhere, Poison drummer Rikki Rockett wrote “RIP … James Kottak” on X/Twitter, while drummer Simon Wright (AC/DC, Dio) wrote: “Rest in Peace. James Kottak. Shocking news, a very sad day.” Find more tributes below.

News of the drummer’s death comes shortly after he opened up about his struggle with alcohol. Speaking to Tulsa Music Stream (as transcribed by Blabbermouth), he said: “I’ve had a few bouts with booze over the years. But what people don’t know is all the years that I was sober. 2008 to 2011. And here a year, and there a year.

‘When our kids [with ex-wife Athena Lee, sister of Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee] were in the oven, I spent a lot of time not drinking. And then I had my moments when I did drink. And that doesn’t mean I’m falling down drunk, walking around with a bottle around the house.”

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