King Missile

Last updated
King Missile
Origin New York City, United States
Years active1986–present
Labels Shimmy, Atlantic, Instinct, Important
Members John S. Hall
Dave Rick
Roger Murdock
Brent Cordero
R. B. Korbet
Past members Dogbowl
Alex DeLaszlo
George O'Malley
Steve Dansiger
Chris Xefos
David Ramirez
Charles Curtis
Jane Scarpantoni
Sasha Forte
Bradford Reed
Dan West
Azalia Snail

King Missile is an American avant-garde art rock band best known for their 1992 song "Detachable Penis". Formed in 1986, vocalist John S. Hall has fronted several incarnations of the band since then.



King Missile (Dog Fly Religion)

In 1985, writer John S. Hall began presenting his work at open mic poetry readings. After three shows, Hall became a "featured" poet at the Backfence, a performance venue in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. [2] In 1986, feeling that "20 minutes of me reading poetry would be totally boring", [3] Hall asked his guitarist friend Dogbowl (Stephen Tunney) to augment his performances with original music. [2] [3] Dogbowl agreed, and with the addition of bassist Alex DeLaszlo, drummer R. B. Korbet, and xylophonist George O'Malley, King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) was born.

In 1987, the band went to the Noise New York studio and in just ten hours recorded and mixed its debut album, Fluting on the Hump. [2] The producer/engineer, Kramer, released the album on his then-fledgling label, Shimmy Disc. [2] The label sent the album to every college radio station that reported to College Media Journal, and the album subsequently performed well on the CMJ charts. [2]

In 1988, Hall and Dogbowl, along with cellist Charles Curtis and new drummer Steve Dansiger, recorded the second King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) album, the longer, more experimental, less "jokey" [2] They. Like its predecessor, the album was produced by Kramer and released on Shimmy Disc. According to Hall, "[the album] wasn't well received. Dogbowl was itching to make his own records, so we went our separate ways." [3] Dogbowl went on to record several albums for Shimmy Disc.

King Missile

After Dogbowl's departure, Hall asked Bongwater guitarist Dave Rick to help him put together a new band. [2] Rick recruited multi-instrumentalist Chris Xefos, and Hall retained Dansiger on drums. [2] Hall dubbed the new lineup King Missile, dropping the parenthetical "Dog Fly Religion" subtitle "since that was [Dogbowl's] idea." [3] In late 1989 and early 1990, the band recorded the album Mystical Shit, and in 1990 released it on Shimmy Disc. [2] On the strength of the single "Jesus Was Way Cool", the album hit No. 1 on the CMJ charts, and the band was signed by a major label, Atlantic Records. [2] This series of events led Hall to make a habit of joking, "'Jesus' got me signed to Atlantic Records." [3] Around this time, King Missile was featured in the 1990 documentary CutTime, which chronicled the East Village music scene of the time. [4] [5]

Another lineup change occurred before the recording of King Missile's major-label debut, as Dansiger left the band and was replaced on drums by Hypnolovewheel member David Ramirez. The subsequent album, The Way to Salvation, was released on April 16, 1991, and reached No. 2 on the CMJ charts. [2] Atlantic promoted the album with the release of a single, "My Heart Is a Flower", and accompanying video.

After Ramirez left the group and was replaced by yet another drummer, Roger Murdock, the band recorded a cover of R.E.M.'s song "Get Up" for the album, Surprise Your Pig: A Tribute to R.E.M. , released on June 22, 1992. This was followed by the band's second major-label album, Happy Hour, released on December 15, 1992. The album debuted at No. 1 on the CMJ charts, [2] and its accompanying first single, "Detachable Penis", became a modest hit, reaching No. 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. [6] Atlantic released videos for "Detachable Penis" and the subsequent singles "(Why Are We) Trapped?" and "Martin Scorsese", but neither follow-up single achieved the chart success of "Detachable Penis." According to Hall, the band realized that its hit song had drawn in many casual fans who didn't care about the rest of the group's material; thus, the band began to play the song "early in the set, so that the people who didn't like us could leave, and we could play for the people who cared. That worked out well. People did leave." [2]

In 1993, the band contributed a song titled "Our Jungle" to the soundtrack of the film Surf Ninjas starring Ernie Reyes, Jr., Rob Schneider, Nicolas Cowan and Leslie Nielsen.

The band's third and final album for Atlantic was the eponymous King Missile, released April 19, 1994. Neither the album nor its lead single, "Love Is...", was a commercial success; consequently, the band was dropped from Atlantic, and broke up shortly thereafter because, according to Hall, "there was no reason to stay together." [7]

King Missile III

After the collapse of the second incarnation of King Missile, Hall decided to attend law school. [2] He graduated cum laude from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in Manhattan, [8] and after graduation co-founded Heraty Hall, a firm specializing in entertainment law. [2]

In 1996, Hall released a "solo album", The Body Has a Head, on the German label Manifatture Criminali. The album featured considerable input from multi-instrumentalists Sasha Forte, Bradford Reed, and Jane Scarpantoni. With these musicians, as well as They cellist Curtis, Hall formed a new band, King Missile III. On September 15, 1998, the new lineup released its "debut" album, Failure, on Shimmy Disc.

Curtis and Scarpantoni left the band after the release of Failure, and King Missile III continued as a trio, releasing two more albums: The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Instinct Records, January 21, 2003) and Royal Lunch (Important Records, September 21, 2004).

King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) reunions

Hall reunited with Dogbowl in 1995 for a tour as King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) for most of October and November of that year. The tour featured Hall performing spoken word with Sasha Forte on violin, followed by performance by Dogbowl and his band, and featuring Hall, Forte, Dogbowl and his band all performing together as King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) to headline the shows.

On March 18, 2010, Hall reunited with Dogbowl as King Missile (Dog-Fly Religion) for a one-time performance at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City. Multi-instrumentalist John Kruth, bassist Dave Dreiwitz of Ween, and drummer Billy Ficca of Television joined the duo to round out the lineup.

King Missile IV

In September 2014, John S. Hall performed four shows with the band LoveyDove in Los Angeles. It was later decided that this was, in fact, a new incarnation of King Missile, and they settled on the name King Missile IV. This version of the group toured New Zealand in February 2015, and recorded a six-song EP, This Fuckin' Guy, released on Powertool Records.

King Missile reunions

On June 25, 2015, Hall, Rick, and Murdock reunited for the first time in over twenty years for a performance at Shea Stadium in Bushwick, Brooklyn. They were joined by Rachel Swaner on keyboards and accordion. The set consisted of songs from throughout the various King Missile incarnations. Hall, Rick, and Murdock played several more shows along with keyboardist Brent Cordero between 2015 and 2019. On February 18, 2017, keyboardist and bassist Chris Xefos rejoined the group for a performance at The Gutter Bar in Brooklyn. On February 10, 2018, King Missile, featuring the lineup of Hall, Rick, Murdock, Cordero and Korbet performed at a benefit for radio station, WFDU at Rose Gold in Brooklyn. A show at Bowery Electric in New York City followed on June 21, 2018 featuring the lineup of Hall, Rick, Murdock, Cordero, and Korbet. On May 11, 2019, King Missile performed with Hall, Rick, Murdock, Cordero, and Matt Hunter at Hank's Saloon in Brooklyn. Dogbowl performed an opening set and also joined King Missile on stage for several songs.

Studio discography

King Missile (Dog Fly Religion)

AlbumRecord LabelRelease Year
Fluting on the Hump Shimmy Disc 1987
They Shimmy Disc 1988

King Missile

AlbumRecord LabelRelease Year
Mystical Shit Shimmy Disc 1990
The Way to Salvation Atlantic Records 1991
Happy 14½ (EP)Atlantic 1992
Happy Hour Atlantic1992
King Missile Atlantic 1994

Compilation and soundtrack contributions

TrackAlbumRecord LabelRelease Year
"Doubleback Alley" (Rutles cover) Rutles Highway Revisited Shimmy Disc1990
"We Can Work It Out" (Beatles cover)Downtown Does the Beatles: Live at the Knitting Factory Knitting Factory Works 1992
"Get Up" (R.E.M. cover) Surprise Your Pig: A Tribute to R.E.M. Staple Gun Records1992
"Our Jungle" Surf Ninjas: Original Soundtrack AlbumAtlantic 1993
"Still the One" (Orleans cover)20 More Explosive Fantastic Rockin' Mega Smash Hit Explosions! Pravda Records 1994

King Missile III

AlbumRecord LabelRelease Year
Failure Shimmy Disc 1998
The Psychopathology of Everyday Life Instinct Records 2003
Royal Lunch Important Records 2004

King Missile IV

AlbumRecord LabelRelease Year
This Fuckin' Guy (EP)Powertool Records 2015


TitleYearPeak chart positionsAlbum

"My Heart Is a Flower"1991The Way to Salvation
"Detachable Penis"1992251713Happy Hour
"Martin Scorsese"
"(Why Are We) Trapped"1993
"Love Is..."1994King Missile

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Orleans (band)</span> American rock band

Orleans is an American pop rock band best known for its hits "Dance with Me" ; "Still the One", from the album Waking and Dreaming; and "Love Takes Time". The group's name evolved from the music it was playing at the time of their formation, which was inspired by Louisiana artists such as Allen Toussaint and the Neville Brothers. Orleans was formed in Woodstock, New York in January 1972 by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter John Hall, vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist/bassist/songwriter Larry Hoppen and drummer/keyboardist/songwriter Wells Kelly. In October of that year, the group expanded to include Larry's younger brother, Lance, on bass. Drummer Jerry Marotta joined in 1976, completing the quintet.

Shimmy Disc is a New York City-based independent record label founded in 1987 by Mark Kramer. Before it was sold to the Knitting Factory, artists like Bongwater, Daniel Johnston, Fly Ashtray, Galaxie 500, King Missile, Boredoms, Ruins, Ween, Gwar, The Semibeings, and Uncle Wiggly recorded on the label. The label also released compilations albums such as "Rutles Highway Revisited ", 1990, which featured various artists from the label, and also introduced new artists like Paleface.

John S. Hall is an American poet, author, singer and lawyer perhaps best known for his work with King Missile, an avant-garde band that he co-founded in 1986 and has since led in various incarnations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kramer (musician)</span> American musician (born 1958)

Mark Kramer known professionally as Kramer, is a musician, composer, record producer and founder of the New York City record label Shimmy-Disc. He was a full-time member of the bands New York Gong, Shockabilly, Bongwater and Dogbowl & Kramer, has played on tour with bands such as Butthole Surfers, B.A.L.L., Ween, Half Japanese and The Fugs, and has also performed regularly with John Zorn and other improvising musicians of New York City's so-called "downtown scene" of the 1980s.

Stephen Tunney, also known as Dogbowl, is an American artist, musician and novelist. He was a founding member of the avant-garde band King Missile, and has recorded many albums as a solo act.

<i>Happy Hour</i> (King Missile album) 1992 studio album by King Missile

Happy Hour is the fifth studio album by experimental music band King Missile, and released on December 15, 1992 by Atlantic Records. The album is exactly one hour long, hence its title.

<i>Mystical Shit</i> 1990 studio album by King Missile

Mystical Shit is the third studio album by experimental music band King Missile, released in 1990 by Shimmy Disc. It is the first of their albums to be recorded after guitarist Dave Rick and bassist Chris Xefos had joined and composer Stephen Tunney had departed the group to form Dogbowl. The album was first issued on vinyl record in 1990 and was later included on the compilation album Mystical Shit & Fluting on the Hump.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crack the Sky</span> American progressive rock band

Crack the Sky is an American progressive rock band formed in Weirton, West Virginia, in the early 1970s. In 1975, Rolling Stone declared their first album the "debut album of the year", and in 1978, Rolling Stone Record Guide compared them to Steely Dan. Their first three albums charted on the Billboard 200. In 2015, their debut album was ranked number 47 in the Rolling Stone list of "50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time ". The band continues to release albums and perform to a small but devoted fan base to this day.

X-tal was a San Francisco-based rock band that existed under various incarnations from 1983 until 1996. Greil Marcus of the Village Voice described them as a "small-time San Francisco combo that wears their defeated leftist politics on their sleeves and can open for the Mekons without letting you forget them when the headliners come on."

<i>Failure</i> (King Missile album) 1998 studio album by King Missile

Failure is the seventh studio album by avant-garde band King Missile, released on September 15, 1998 by Shimmy Disc.

<i>They</i> (album) 1988 studio album by King Missile (Dog Fly Religion)

They is the second studio album by King Missile, released in 1988 by Shimmy Disc.

<i>Fluting on the Hump</i> 1987 studio album by King Missile (Dog Fly Religion)

Fluting on the Hump is the first album by avant-garde band King Missile, first released exclusively in LP format in 1987 and later included on the CD compilation Mystical Shit & Fluting on the Hump.

<i>King Missile</i> (album) 1994 studio album by King Missile

King Missile is the sixth studio album by the experimental music band King Missile, released on April 19, 1994 by Atlantic Records.

<i>The Way to Salvation</i> 1991 studio album by King Missile

The Way to Salvation is the fourth studio album by experimental music band King Missile, released on April 16, 1991 by Atlantic Records. The band had formerly released three albums for Shimmy Disc this album marks their major label debut. The band's previous drummer Steve Dansiger parted from the band before recording began and his position was filled by David Ramirez.

The Murdocks are an American rock band consisting of three members and was formed in 2003 in Texas.

<i>Happy 14½</i> 1992 EP by King Missile

Happy 14½ is an EP by avant-garde band King Missile. It was released in 1992, shortly before the band's album Happy Hour. The EP was intended for promotional use only, and not supposed to be sold; nonetheless, copies are sometimes available in "used" sections of record stores because some people who received the EP sold it anyway.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">R. B. Korbet</span> American musician

R.B. Korbet is an American musician. She contributed drumming and vocals to King Missile, the first incarnation of art rock band King Missile. She has also played guitar in the bands Even Worse, Chop Shop, Hit by a Truck, Missing Foundation, Pussy Galore, Madgodz, Bubba Zanetti (NYC), Sloth, Hellvis (NYC), the Floyds of Flatbush, the Wharton Tiers Ensemble and Judas Livingston Seagull, and bass in the bands Big Stick, Navigator and Verona Downs.

"Jesus Was Way Cool" is a song by avant-garde band King Missile. It appears on the band's 1990 album Mystical Shit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Detachable Penis</span> 1992 single by King Missile

"Detachable Penis" is a song by avant-garde band King Missile. It was the first single from the band's 1992 album Happy Hour, and became a modest hit, reaching number 25 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

<i>Too Much Sleep</i> 1989 studio album by Bongwater

Too Much Sleep is the second album by the experimental college rock/art rock band Bongwater. It was released in 1989. In 1998, the album was remastered by Alan Douches and Kramer for its inclusion in Box of Bongwater set.


  1. Huey, Steve. "King Missile". Allmusic . Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Prindle, Mark (2003). "Interview with John S. Hall". Prindle Rock and Roll Record Review Site. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Hall, John S. (2004). Album notes. In Mystical Shit & Fluting on the Hump [CD booklet]. New York City: Shimmy Disc.
  4. CutTime on DevlinPix
  5. "CutTime - King Missile, "Life" (3 of 11)". DevlinPix. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  6. "King Missile Singles Peak Chart Positions". Allmusic . Retrieved 2008-05-21.
  7. "Interview w/ John". Farmboy's King Missile. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
  8. "Bios". Heraty Law. Retrieved 2008-05-22.
  9. "King Missile - Chart history - Billboard". Billboard .
  10. 1 2 "King Missile – Detachable Penis". Retrieved August 17, 2022.