The angsty rap-metal quintet Korn has emerged from obscurity to become one of the most popular new bands of the 1990s, building an underground fan base worldwide through touring, not MTV imagery.
The roots of Korn go back to 1992 in the agricultural city of Bakersfield, Calif., where James "Munky" Shaffer (guitar), Brian "Head" Welch (guitar), Reginald "Fieldy" Arvizu (bass) and David Silveria (drums) formed a heavy metal band called LAPD. After recording one album, LAPD dropped their singer and became Creep; with the addition of vocalist Jonathan Davis -- a mortician-in-training who formerly fronted a group called Sexart -- the band moved to Huntington Beach, near L.A., and became known as Korn. Their 1994 major-label debut, Korn, took off slowly, but after nearly two years of touring with Ozzy Osbourne, 311, Marilyn Manson, KMFDM and Megadeth, Korn had sold over 700,000 copies of their LP and built a large, loyal fan base of alienated small-town teens.
Their 1996 follow-up, Life Is Peachy, produced by Ross Robinson, debuted at No. 3 and spawned the radio hit "A.D.I.D.A.S.," signaling that despite its uncompromising sound, Korn had become a force to be reckoned with. During a stint on that summer's Lolapalooza tour, Korn proved to be by far the most popular attraction; two years later they launched their own "Family Values" tour as headliner. Also in 1998 the group garnered massive publicity when a student who wore a Korn shirt to school in conservative Zeeland, Mich., was suspended because his principal believed Korn's lyrics were "obscene;" the band responded by giving away free t-shirts outside the school.
The latest Korn album, Issues, was released to mixed reviews in November 1999.