James Kottak Didn’t Feel Like Scorpions Had Fired Him
James Kottak said he never felt like Scorpions had fired him when they split with him in 2016 over his drinking problems. He expressed gratitude at the way they had treated him while he spent time in rehab, and said he was at peace with the idea his time in the band was over after more than two decades behind the kit.
Kottak went to Eric Clapton’s drug and alcohol treatment center on the island of Antigua after suffering several losses of control, including an arrest and imprisonment in Dubai in 2014. Two years later, former Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee was brought in for what was to be a temporary role, but he was later added as a permanent member of the band.
“Even when I was down at the rehab, and ever since then, I’ve talked to the guys," Kottak told Mitch Lafon (via Blabbermouth). "I wouldn’t say every day, but more like emails maybe once a month. So I’m super, mega grateful. They came through when I needed it the most.”
He recalled how his colleagues had suggested the trip to rehab, which ended up lasting 90 days. “Mikkey came into the band and it was going to be temporary,” he said. “And it wasn’t until we got down to business in October or November of 2016, which was a long time later, that they just decided to say, ‘Hey, man, we wanna talk to you. It’s not like you’re being fired. We wanna move on. We wanna part ways.’ It didn’t feel like being fired. ... They’re great guys like that. I’m so grateful to them. Put it this way: 21 years is a lifetime.”
Kottak admitted that “of course, I would love to play with them [again], but sometimes it’s just time to say, ‘That’s it, and you’ve got to move on.”
The drummer is now working with a revived lineup of Kingdom Come, and said his struggle with alcoholism wasn’t ignored on the road. “Johnny B. Frank, the bass player, I call him ‘Dr. Frank’ because he is so knowledgeable and he’s been in the program for years," he noted. "So I have a good support team there. We're playing a lot of bars, and everybody wants to buy the band a drink. … But it is what it is. I'm cruising along and I'm doing the best I can, and that's all you could hope for. Because it's progress, not perfection.”