Exclusive Interview: King Diamond vs. Food Poisoning

Photo credit: Soile Sirrtola

Photo credit: Soile Sirrtola

Last October saw King Diamond’s glorious return to the lighted stages of North America after nearly a decade away. The shows were unanimously well-received—audiences throughout the land were captivated by the massive stage setup, delightful theatrics and spot-on set list. In fact, our #3 extreme vocalist of all time says everything went about as smoothly as it could possibly go…except for a fateful encounter with some truck-stop cuisine. Here’s what happened:

“We were driving from Seattle to San Francisco and we stopped at a restaurant in the middle somewhere. When we came to San Francisco and played, I felt a bit of a weird thing in my stomach. The next night was Halloween and we played L.A., and it got so bad that you have no idea. I never threw up; that was one thing that was lucky for me. But you know, losing liquids and going on stage and sweating really hard, it’s like double dehydration. It’s almost impossible to keep up with. And then driving overnight to L.A., my stomach hurt so bad. I was in such sheer pain that I was standing up in the back of the bus trying to keep it from just exploding.

“So we finally got to L.A., and after sound check it got so bad that I didn’t think I was gonna be able to play. I have never felt so bad. I got no sleep. It was a very scary feeling to go out there and try to do [the show]. I started drinking Gatorade mixed with water because it was recommended by my own doctor, because I called her to figure out what I should do. That was one of the things she said: tons of water on stage. But we had to cut the last song because it became such a dangerous feeling inside. It could have ended really bad. After we finished the show and went back to the hotel, [Metal Blade CEO] Brian Slagel came with his wife to say hi, and I was lying in bed…I could not get up and say hi. I was so knocked on my fucking ass by this thing.

“The next day we had to drive to Las Vegas and it was the same type of painful trip. We got there and played that show, and I don’t know how the hell I did it. We left there and went toward Tucson and got there the day before [the show]. I don’t know if I was really there. I went to a doctor the next day and they checked me out. I tried to get as much hydration back in my system as I possibly could, and [that was the only reason] they didn’t have to perform something that could have been life-threatening. It was that bad. When I look back on it, I should have never gone up and played.”

What did the doctors say?

“I was sitting there, and they said, ‘We have to check your hydration levels and do some tests. When we get the tests back, we’ll know if we have to give you drugs. And if we have to give you drugs for this thing, with your situation, you might incur a heart stoppage.’ I was like, ‘You gotta be fucking kidding me. This cannot be true.’ And they told me, ‘You cannot play tonight. Are you kidding? No way in hell. How many shows do you think you’d need us to write you a doctor’s note for?’ Because of insurance and all that. I said, ‘Just one show. We have a day off tomorrow; I can try to do as much hydration as possible.’

“And that’s something I’m gonna do from now on—start hydrating during the day before the show. It really makes me feel better. Not that I didn’t drink water before, but this is a planned schedule that I go by to get hydrated properly. We have very little breaks in the show, so it’s quite intensive the whole way through. And it’s really cool, I like it. After the show is done, I’m not really out of breath or anything. I drink a full bottle of mixed Gatorade and water the three or four times I’m backstage. I just slam a glass and then go out again. And then all the water on the front stage is gone after a show.”

So, the rest of the tour was OK?

“Yeah, we did the rest of the shows down in Texas and there were no problems. That was the worst thing that happened. Nothing with the voice…the voice was cool!”

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