The history of George Lynch is a complex one to say the least. He auditioned for Ozzy’s band at the same time as Randy Rhoads did. Once Randy got the gig, Lynch got Randy’s teaching gig. He auditioned again after the tragic death of Randy Rhoads and this time he lost out to Jake E.Lee.
And then Dokken broke through with “Tooth And Nail”. They continued that momentum with “Under Lock And Key” and “Back For The Attack”.
And then it was over. Don Dokken said that it was the ego of George Lynch that broke up Dokken. Ego is a very ambiguous word to use. Ego means a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance, so I can’t see how if a person has a high self-esteem it can be seen as a negative or bad enough to break up a band.
What we do know is that Don Dokken was the one that got the original recording deal with Elektra Records. He got that recording deal based on songs that George Lynch and Mick Brown had written in their earlier bands.
This is the way Mick Brown told it:
“He took some material that George and I had wrote and took it to Germany and pretty much put his name on it, you know what I am saying (laughing) and he got a recording contract. So he called me up to play. I looked over at George and I said George, this guy’s got our music and he’s got a record deal and we were pretty upset about that because he’s got our songs. But then we also thought, it’s kind of an open door so we went along with it. I think probably when people talk about the turmoil in Dokken, that was pretty much the moment where it all started. I remember Don asking us to, if he could take some of our songs over there to try and get something going in Europe and we said “No” but he did anyway.”
And this is the way Don Dokken told it:
“When I went to Germany to get the record deal, they wanted to sign me as a solo artist. The original album, Breaking The Chains originally came out in Europe and the band was called was called Don Dokken. It was pretty rare. There were 500 copies of it that said “Don” on the cover. So when we got the band together, I just dropped the “Don” and we became Dokken.”
INSERT: Disagreement Number one.
The label then would not give any extra shares to George Lynch or Mick Brown, so the monies came from Don Dokken’s slice of the pie which was already pretty shitty and that pie got diminished even further when Jeff Pilson joined. This battle for an equal split proved to be a source of animosity.
INSERT: Disagreement Number two.
Remember Vivian Campbell. He was livid that he didn’t get an equal split from Dio. Randy Rhoads confronted Ozzy about the “Blizzard Of Ozz” band and why the album was going to be marketed as Ozzy Osbourne’s solos act.
However the most stupid thing any band could do is split up at their commercial peak.
On a press tour for the “Back For The Attack” Don Dokken said the following about George Lynch:
“I don’t dig him and he don’t dig me. But we respect each other as musicians. He can be a total jerk, but I’m not that easy to get along with either.”
Dokken (the band) at the time of the split were ready to re-negotiate their deal. They had the leverage and the sales on the board. They had Q-Prime Management on board. According to Lynch, Don Dokken didn’t want to share any new deal. He saw it as his band, with his name on it and any new deal would involve Don Dokken only with the remaining band members reduced to hired guns.
According to Lynch, Dokken told the band the following:
“I’m gonna try to take the whole thing and run with it, and you guys are gonna get left in the dust, and if you’re lucky, I might hire you.”
In the end, the band split. George Lynch and Mick Brown got a deal with Elektra Records while Don Dokken got wined and dined by Geffen Records and eventually signed a deal with them. Jeff Pilson, who was in my mind the better songwriter got going with various other creative outlets. According to Pilson, the band had a lot of egos and it was those egos that got in the way.
“It wasn’t really that different from other bands with the exception that we aired our dirty laundry in public.”
That is true.
After the split, the bickering didn’t end there.
In 1990, George Lynch, Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown went to court to stop Don Dokken from using his surname for any new solo band. They heard that Don Dokken was planning to release his first solo album as Dokken II. This didn’t sit well with them and they went to court to get an injunction to stop Don Dokken from using the name Dokken or Dokken II.
However, what Lynch and Dokken did was shoot each other in the foot. A good vocalist will always need a good guitarist and a good guitarist will always need a good vocalist. This is the secret of a lot of the bands successes. Vivian Campbell had Ronnie James Dio. George Lynch had Don Dokken. John Sykes had David Coverdale. Jimmy Page had Robert Plant. Paul Kossoff had Paul Rodgers. Mick Ralphs had Paul Rodgers.
And being in a band is not a guarantee. In the October 1989 issue of Guitar World it was a period of change for a lot of guitarists. Steve Stevens was on the cover with the headline, “Life After Billy Idol”. There was also a boxed picture of George Lynch with the headline “Bye-Bye Dokken”. Jake E.Lee was also featured talking about Badlands and life after Ozzy.