JULY’S LOST LEGEND OF THE MONTH: MARCIE FREE OF KING KOBRA.
“Wait a minute…Marcie Free of King Kobra? Something doesn’t sound right. The lead singer of King Kobra was a dude who sang in an AOR, power-vocal style. Wasn’t his name MARK? Then again…when was the last time I listened to King Kobra (if ever)?”
All these bewildering questions are about to be answered as we crown Mark Free AKA Marcie Free our Lost-Legend-Of-The-Month for July!
Before we begin, allow your anticipation to fly to the sky by watching King Kobra’s classic ‘Iron Eagle (Never Say Die)’ music video from the Iron Eagle soundtrack (1986). Seriously though, this is mandatory viewing if you wish to continue.
Go ahead and mention King Kobra the next time you’re in line at the deli and the conversation will typically revolve around three distinct memories. One would be the band’s semi-hit song from the soundtrack as mentioned above. Two, their drummer was the legendary Carmine Appice, who played with Rod Stewart, Ozzy Osbourne, Ted Nugent and Blue Murder (just to name a few). Or three, that 4 out of 5 band members had matching platinum-blonde manes.
Yet the most interesting and mind-blowing fact of all – which many people don’t mention – is that in 1993 their former vocalist Mark Free underwent sex change surgery to become Marcie Free!
“Marcie” burst on the scene a few years after the original King Kobra lineup broke up, but people were still shocked at the time, especially in the rock n’ roll world where this sort of act wasn’t a regular occurrence. Then again, this era of heavy metal was predominantly males with long hair + makeup who pranced around in spandex, so it really couldn’t have been that shocking.
The boys on vacation in Mexico. “Mark” on the far right, looking a little…off.
When looking way back at the early years of the era, bands like New York Dolls, Twisted Sister and eventually Mötley Crüe all indeed looked like women – but they backed it up with tough tunes and a “street” attitude if you heard the music. Still, the strange mixture of macho-ism and homo-eroticism in hair metal really peaked into new and highly questionable levels during the later part of the decade when the scene became over-saturated with everyone wanting to look the part. Bands like Pretty Boy Floyd, Nelson, Britny Fox and King Kobra emerged almost overnight it seemed. Even if some of them packed the talent, the image was so over the top that people had to start wondering what was really going on. *For a prime example of this, go watch The Decline of Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years (out now for the first time on Blu-Ray/DVD from Shout Factory!)*
So it isn’t entirely shocking to hear that Mark Free wanted his johnson hacked off to transform into a full-blown lady. He had the musical chops so none of it really mattered anyways. In fact, Marcie was probably the most talented of the bunch with that high-soaring, melodic vocal range. She just fit more into the Steve Perry and John Parr category than with the heavy metal meatheads.
Nope, no early signs here at all!
To shed a little history on the career of the band, King Kobra released two noteworthy albums in the mid-eighties. In 1985 Ready to Strike was unleashed which is considered a glam metal classic among fans. The band spent months on the road during this time opening up for heavyweights like KISS and Iron Maiden. Their follow-up record Thrill of a Lifetime came a year later and saw the band adopting a more radio-friendly, AOR sound. Both records weren’t big enough hits to see King Kobra rise to the top of the heavy metal food chain and soon enough different members of the band were dropping out. The first member to bail was Johnny Rod in late of 86′ when he took Blackie Lawless’ $800 a week offer to play bass for W.A.S.P. Before Mark/Marcie left the group, she contributed vocals to the Black Roses soundtrack, singing the part of fictional horror-rock band in the movie.
We at the Land of TNUC are very pleased to hoist up our very first transsexual in his sacred land that we call home. With all the Chaz’s and Caitlyn’s making headlines these days, why not congratulate a true talent and veteran of the heavy metal scene?
Marcie continued with music after the band broke up with the melodic-rock projects such as Signal and Unruly Child. She went through a ‘lost’ period for a number of years but has resurfaced during the past few years to make new music and perform. According to several interviews she is happy and looking forward to making a comeback.
If King Kobra would like to reform their original lineup and play at Uncle T’s pool party this summer, by all means PLEASE give us a call!
[Lost-Legend-Of-The-Month is a heartwrenching chronicle of forgotten iconic warriors who were either wiped off the face of the planet for reasons unknown or simply never got the chance to “peak” during their short-lived careers. We cherish these individuals and devote an entire month to celebrate their impact on society. To see the rest of em’, go here.]