James Kottak dies aged 61: Ex Scorpions and Kingdom Come drummer passes away in Kentucky

Ex-Scorpions and Kingdom Come drummer James Kottak has died aged 61.

The musician’s daughter Tobi told TMZ Kottak died Tuesday morning in Louisville, Kentucky.

His cause of death is currently unknown. 

Kottak was best known for being the drummer in German rock band Scorpions – whose hits include Rock You Like a Hurricane and No One Like You – from 1996-2016, and was their longest serving band member. 

He was fired from the band due to his alcoholism in September 2016 and replaced by former Motorhead member Mikkey Dee.

The band paid tribute on their official Instagram with a poignant snap of the musician, captioned: ‘Very sad news … our dear friend and Drummer for 20 years James Kottak has passed at the age of 61… 

‘James was a wonderful human being , a great musician and loving family man … he was our „Brother from another Mother“ and will be truly missed . … Rock‘n Roll Forever RIP James

‘Klaus , Rudolf , Matthias , Pawel and Mikkey.’

Ex-Scorpions and Kingdom Come drummer James Kottak has died aged 61

Kottak was best known for being the drummer in German rock band Scorpions from 1996-2016 (pictured 2010)

Kottak was best known for being the drummer in German rock band Scorpions from 1996-2016 (pictured 2010)

The band paid tribute on their official Instagram with a poignant snap of the musician, captioned: 'Very sad news … our dear friend and Drummer for 20 years James Kottak has passed at the age of 61…'

The band paid tribute on their official Instagram with a poignant snap of the musician, captioned: ‘Very sad news … our dear friend and Drummer for 20 years James Kottak has passed at the age of 61…’

Kottak was also an original member of Kingdom Come, serving as their drummer from 1987 to 1989 and again from 2018 to his death.

He played in his own band Kottak, formerly known as KrunK and had been a drummer in bands Montrose, Warrant, Dio, the McAuley Schenker Group and Buster Brown.

Kottak was married to Tommy Lee’s younger sister Athena Bass, 59,  from 1996-2010 – the former couple shared son Matthew, now 27, who they were famously embroiled in a custody battle over in 2012.

Athena is also mom to Tobi, 33, and son Miles, 31 from previous relationships.

In a 2020 interview with the Scorpions’ fan club Crazyscorps Kottak discussed his alcoholism and firing from the band.

He said: ‘I always liked a drink here and there. And then I always also take a pain medication called Aleve. It’s what all the baseball players take, all the footballers, and it works like a charm. You take those of those and you don’t feel anything. But on top of that, I’m a rock drummer in a rock band, and you’ve got the green light to drink.

‘From 2008 to 2011, I didn’t drink. I just woke up one day and said, ‘I just don’t wanna drink anymore.’ I didn’t go to rehab; I didn’t do any of that stuff. I just didn’t wanna drink anymore.

‘If you have any knowledge of A.A. [Alcoholics Anonymous] or any type of program or rehab, it only lasts so long and then you have what we call in recovery a relapse. I would go through these phases of a year or maybe two years of no drinking, and then you gradually…

‘Scorpions, we play our show, we go back to the hotel, [and] 45 minutes later, we’re all downstairs having dinner. And everything’s just the right price — free. All these flights back and forth from Europe, from L.A. — I was just flying constantly. 

Kottak was best known for being the drummer in German rock band Scorpions - whose hits include Rock You Like a Hurricane and No One Like You - from 1996-2016, and was their longest serving band member - but was later fired due to his alcoholism (pictured 2003)

Kottak was best known for being the drummer in German rock band Scorpions – whose hits include Rock You Like a Hurricane and No One Like You – from 1996-2016, and was their longest serving band member – but was later fired due to his alcoholism (pictured 2003)

Kottak is pictured with his former Scorpions bandmates Pawel Maciwoda, Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine and Matthias Jabs at the World Music Awards in 2010

Kottak is pictured with his former Scorpions bandmates Pawel Maciwoda, Rudolf Schenker, Klaus Meine and Matthias Jabs at the World Music Awards in 2010

Kottak was married to Tommy Lee's younger sister Athena Bass, 59, from 1996-2010 - the former couple shared son Matthew, now 27, who they were famously embroiled in a custody battle over in 2012 (pictured 2009)

Kottak was married to Tommy Lee’s younger sister Athena Bass, 59, from 1996-2010 – the former couple shared son Matthew, now 27, who they were famously embroiled in a custody battle over in 2012 (pictured 2009)

‘Which I’m not complaining about, but it’s always business or first class, and once again, all the booze is at the right price. I’m going, ‘I’ve got the next two days off. I might as well have a drink.’ And that’s what triggered me to start drinking again sometimes.

‘It’s a typical alcoholic way of thinking: ‘Well, I may as well have a drink. Why not?’ And that’s typical alcoholic disease thinking. ‘Cause it is a disease’.

He said the turning point for his recovery and ongoing sobriety came when he spent three months at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads drug and alcohol treatment center on the island of Antigua.

He said: ‘I’ve been to hundreds — I won’t say thousands — I’ve been to hundreds of A.A. meetings. I spent 92 days in rehab down at Eric Clapton’s rehab place. I was only supposed to stay there 30 days. 

‘They offered me, they said, ‘Hey, if you wanna stay another couple of weeks, it’s okay.’ And I’m, like, ‘What? Well, do I have to pay?’ ‘Cause it’s expensive — it’s, like, 30 grand a month. 

‘They go, ‘No. You can just stay if you want.’ So I stayed another two weeks, then another two weeks. And long story short, I was there 92 days, which it changed my entire life and my whole way of thinking.’

In 2014 he was jailed for a month for getting drunk and flashing his middle finger at Muslims in Dubai.

Kottak allegedly started swearing and took his trousers down after drinking five glasses of wine on a flight from Moscow.

He was on his way to Bahrain, where he was due to a perform at a Formula One Grand Prix concert, when he was arrested and detained.

The American was said to have gotten angry and started shouting when he entered the transit hall by mistake.

When he saw the Pakistani and Afghan passengers, witnesses said Kottak swore at them and began talking about ‘non-educated Muslims’.

An officer claimed he then said: ‘What is that disgusting smell’, according to The National.

In 2014 he was jailed for a month for getting drunk and flashing his middle finger at Muslims in Dubai (pictured 2013)

In 2014 he was jailed for a month for getting drunk and flashing his middle finger at Muslims in Dubai (pictured 2013)

A 27-year-old employee at the airport, said: ‘When he [Kottak] saw the Pakistani and Afghani passengers, he covered his nose and said that there was no way he will travel with them.’

His lawyer had earlier argued that Kottak did not commit an indecent act, but only wanted to show his tattoo to members of the public.

Kottak refuted the charges, telling prosecutors: ‘I don’t remember saying these words and I did not flash my middle finger.’

His lawyer, Hamid Al Khazraji told the Dubai Court of Misdemeanours that his client was innocent and that the witnesses’ statements were contradictory.

Kottak was fined Dh2,000 (£323; $544) for drinking and was deported. He admitted to drinking, but denied gesturing indecently in public and cursing Muslims.

Besides his musicianship, Kottak was known for his politically conservative views.

In June 2019 he said: ‘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 of everyone else…’

Three months later Kottak went on a shock Twitter rant about ‘interracial couples on commercials.’

He wrote: ‘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.’

In November 2019, Kottak wrote: ‘OK so the percentage of black Americans in the US is about 13% so why are they represented 50 to 60% on all commercials? Just saying call me out if you have a reasonable argument?

 ‘Maybe none of you have any balls to speak the truth?’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk