Former Scorpions and Kingdom Come drummer, James Kottak dies aged 61

James Kottak
(Image credit: Francesco Castaldo/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Former Scorpions and Kingdom Come drummer, James Kottak has died aged 61. The news was announced by Kottak’s daughter, Tobi, who confirmed to TMZ that her father had passed away on 9 January in his birthplace of Louisville, Kentucky.

Kottak joined Scorpions in 1996 — becoming the first American to join the band. He went on to record eight studio albums with Scorpions, alongside multiple live albums, including an MTV Unplugged session. 

Prior to joining Scorpions, Kottak performed stints with a number of hard rock bands, putting in time with Warrant, Dio, The Cult and more before recording two albums with German rockers, Kingdom Come.  

Kottak struggled with addiction, finding sobriety in 2022. A strong Trump supporter, he repeatedly expressed outspoken opinions via his Twitter (X) account, taking to the platform in 2019 to voice his dissatisfaction at what he perceived to be a disproportionately high representation of black people in American advertising campaigns. 

“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?"  

Scorpions mourned Kottak’s passing via the band’s social media accounts, writing, “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”.

James Kottak’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.