THE ROYAL COURT OF CHINA

Country USA

Style Hard Rock

RCOC_05

The Royal Court of China forms in September 1985 from the ashes of Nashville protopunk faves, The Enemy. Robert Logue (bass) and Oscar Rice Jr. (lead guitar) replaced Lee A. Carr (RIP) and Eric Hubner to join Joe Blanton (vocals, guitar) and Chris “Fuzz” Mekow (drums, vocals). The band played as The Enemy until December 1985 and emerged officially in 1986 as The Royal Court of China. A name chosen for it’s ambiguity and exotic relation to nothing at all. Actually the name was tossed around by Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers who eventually named their band, The Firm.

In 1986 the band releases “Off the Beat’n Path” in the summer  on their own Desperation Records label.  The 7 song EP and the bands intense local live performances gain them a large following and major label attention. Grace Reinbold joins the team as their personal manager and works the EP into a respectable position on the College Radio airplay chart The RCC play a landmark show on Dec. 12 at Elliston Sq. with David Anderle (VP of A&R at A&M Records) in attendance. He offers the band a record deal on the spot.

In 1987 The Royal Court signs with A&M and begins a tour with The Kinks. Stevens Weiss (Led Zep biz man.) joins the team as the bands business manager. The band records their self-produced, self-titled major label debut at Nashville’s Woodland Studios in 7 days and mixes in Los Angeles in 4 days. Kevin Kerslake (Nirvana, etc) directs the video for the single, It’s All Changed, at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium and Percy Warner Park. It’s All Changed released to radio in early fall and the video premieres on MTV’s 120 minutes. The album is released in September and supported initially by the Fourplay Tour. Tours with REO Speedwagon and The Hooters followed through December.

In 1988 Robert and Oscar leave the band to form The Shakers. Joe and Chris continue on with Drew Cornutt (bass) and Josh Weinberg (lead guitar). The band films a live performance on the syndicated “On Stage” television show  Vic Maile (Motorhead) is slated to produce the second A&M album. Geared & Primed is recorded in Los Angeles at Sound City Studios during the summer and mixed in Memphis in early fall at Ardent Studios by Joe Hardy. Jeff Mayes replaces Josh on lead guitar. Sam Raimi (Spiderman, Evil Dead) and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, If Chins Could Kill) direct and produce the video for Half the Truth, G&P’s first single, in the fall at the Charlie Chaplin Soundstage on the A&M lot on LaBrea.

Half the Truth released to radio and the video to MTV in January 1989. Geared & Primed released in February and supported by tours with Joan Jett and Cheap Trick. Half the Truth peaks at #76 on the radio airplay charts. The song, Geared & Primed, is released to radio as the bands second single in the summer and the band embarks on a West Coast tour. The Royal Court of China relocates to Los Angeles and A&M releases the Lost Angels (Donald Sutherland, Adam Horovitz) soundtrack containing Love Long Gone, an out take from the G&P album. The Royal Court of China leave A&M at the end of the year.

Royal Court Of China

The period between 1990-1991 Jeff Mays leaves the band and is replaced by Matt (?) (RIP). The RCC records “Running Nowhere” for the indie movie, Across the Tracks (Brad Pitt, Ric Schroeder) and tours across the country. Matt is replaced on lead guitar by Walt, Chris Hopkins and eventually Brian Jennings. The band records Alice Cooper’s ” Working Up A Sweat” in 1991 for the 1993 Triple XXX release of “Welcome To My Nightmare” Alice Cooper Tribute compilation.  The RCC briefly changes their name to Rockhead and tours NY. They change the name back to The Royal Court after a successful legal battle with Bob Rock (Metallica).

In 1992 The RCC officially disband and move back home at the beginning of the year. The original members of The Royal Court (Joe, Chris, Robert & Oscar) reform for a reunion show. The RCC officially reform in late fall and record new songs at 16th Ave. Sound in Nashville. The session includes Santa Claus Is Back In Town and the band is joined by original Elvis Presley band members, Scotty Moore, Floyd Cramer, D.J. Fontana, and the Jordannaires. The song makes history by reuniting the Elvis members for the first time in 24 years. Santa Claus Is Back in Town is released to radio for the Christmas season on a compilation CD including country greats, Alan Jackson and Travis Tritt. The RCC surprisingly make several live performances on country music TV stations, TNN and CMT.

Today Royal Court of China still features the same ‘Geared and Primed’ line-up from the late-1980s including Joe Blanton (vocals, guitar), Chris Mekow (drums, backing vocals), Droo Cornutt (bass) and Jeff Mays (lead guitars), coming with a brand new album entitled “”New Machine”” in 2007. If you’re a fan of the more rowdy `80s bands like Junkyard, Tangier, Badlands and the like, you’ll want to give Royal Court of China a try.

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– Off The Beat’n Path [1986] EP
– The Royal Court Of China [1987]
– Geared & Primed [1989]
– New Machine [2007]

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