Donald Maynard Dokken (born June 29, 1953) is a singer most famous for being the lead singer and founder of the band Dokken. He is known for his vibrato-laden, melodic vocal style which has made him an influential figure in American heavy metal. After enjoying mainstream success with Dokken, he parted ways with the band in 1988 and pursued a solo career. His 1990 solo album, Up from the Ashes, featured Europe guitarist John Norum and spawned two singles.
Don reformed Dokken in the early 1990s and has been continuing on with the band ever since. He released his second solo album titled Solitary in 2008, which was a stylistic departure from his Dokken material. He continues to tour with Dokken today and is known for his unique stage persona.
Don Dokken has always had a strong interest in music. In the late 1970s, he was playing in a band called Airborn
, and had the opportunity to reach a record deal in Germany
. After seeing the band Xciter
, and future bandmates George Lynch
and Mick Brown
, he knew that they would complete the band that would land the record deal. Although Lynch and Brown weren't interested in joining forces with him when he first contacted them, he went ahead to Germany. Don, with the help of one of Xciter's songs, did get the record deal, and he finally convinced Lynch and Brown, along with bassist Juan Croucier
, to join him in Dokken soon after he received it.
During his time in Germany, Dokken befriended German band Scorpions, and sang with them in rehearsals for their Blackout album while lead vocalist Klaus Meine was being treated for nodes on his vocal cords. Meine recovered and returned to record the album, although Dokken's background vocals remained on several tracks.
In 1983, America saw the release of the first Dokken album, Breaking the Chains which had a moderate reception. However Juan Croucier left the band to join Ratt. Jeff Pilson was brought in for their second release, Tooth and Nail, and at this time metal fans and critics began to take notice of the band. Don's strong, melodic vocals, coupled with Lynch's blazing guitar playing and the steady rhythm section of Brown and their new bassist, guided Dokken to national fame as one of the biggest hard rock bands of the 1980s.
In the late 1980s, however, personal tension between Dokken and Lynch took its toll on the band. In 1988, after the Monsters of Rock Tour and two further platinum albums, Don Dokken decided to break up the band and they went on their separate ways. Don Dokken originally wanted to continue on with the Dokken name, but since Lynch maintained partial ownership, he was forced to put out his next album under the Don Dokken name, and it became known as his first solo album. The album, titled Up from the Ashes
, was released in 1990, and was very similar to the Dokken catalog. This project was a supergroup
of sorts, made up of guitarists John Norum
fame) and Billy White
, bassist Peter Baltes
fame) and drummer Mikkey Dee
(of King Diamond
fame and then Motörhead
Both Dee and Baltes had previously been members of Dokken during the late 1970s for brief periods. Two music videos were made for the singles "Mirror Mirror" and "Stay". In the early 1990s, Don also spent time as a producer for the metal band XYZ.
Around late 1993, Don started to talk with Mick Brown, who had recently left George Lynch's new group, Lynch Mob
. They joined up with Jeff Pilson, and started to write new songs. In 1994, they sent what they had written to George Lynch, who was impressed with the material. Together, they decided to reunite and tour again. This reunion lasted for three years and resulted in two new Dokken albums, an acoustic live disc, and a full live concert recorded in Japan in 1995.
In the late-1990s, Dokken once again parted ways with George Lynch, gained guitarist Reb Beach
, and later kicked off a new era with guitarist John Norum after the departure of Reb Beach. That union didn't last long as Norum departed quickly to re-unite with Europe
, but Don managed to find a permanent replacement in the band's lawyer Jon Levin
, who still continues to be at his side in 2008.
Since 1994, Dokken has released five studio albums, two live albums, a Greatest Hits album, as well as their first two DVDs. Don Dokken released a new solo album titled Solitary in 2008 and Dokken released a new album titled Lightning Strikes Again during the same year.