The story of the King's X song that could have been "the biggest hit in the world"

Kings X group shot
(Image credit: PG Brunelli/IconicPix)

As their producer, manager and mentor, Sam Taylor played a massive part in the rise of Texan trio King’s X. Using knowledge accrued from days working with ZZ Top, Taylor ran King’s X like a sergeant major, drilling them into shape to make 1988’s Out Of The Silent Planet, a genre-defying debut album that still ranks among one of rock’s finest introductory statements. 

For their fifth album, 1992’s Dogman, the band replaced him at the console with Brendan O’Brien. Although the split was less than amicable, three decades later bassist and frontman Dug Pinnick remains in sporadic communication with Taylor, and every time they reconnect, one particular subject is guaranteed to raise its head. 

“The last time we texted, Sam asked me: ‘Why wasn’t Goldilox the biggest hit in the world?’” says a grinning Pinnick. “So I replied: ‘Because you wouldn’t allow it to come out as a single’. Sam blames the decision on Jonny Z, the boss of our former record label Megaforce, but I’m not sure I believe that. I was told by Jonny [who died in February 2022] that Sam had vetoed Goldilox being released as a single because he didn’t want our career to take off too fast.” 

King’s X Guitarist Ty Tabor, who wrote the track’s delicious summery melody, agrees with that reason in principle, although he adds a slightly different twist: “I remember Sam saying he didn’t want the album’s first single to be a slow song,” Tabor says. “A couple of other bands that we knew had made acoustic songs into singles, and when people went to see them play they left confused. Sam didn’t want that for us. 

“We did finally release Goldilox as a single, but this was after two others [King and Shot Of Love] had preceded it,” Tabor continues. “By that point the album was already played out, so nobody paid too much attention.” 

Whichever way it all went down, the decision was likely an opportunity lost. However, as Pinnick points out: “In those days, if you disagreed with Sam over something, it would start a war.”

Unlike the Goldilocks of nursery rhyme fame, King’s X’s Goldilox (spelled with an ‘x’) was based on a real-life person – a longhaired blonde that Tabor had admired from afar in a Houston club called Cardi’s. 

“I never even found out her name,” Tabor says with a laugh. “Whoever she was, I’m sure she has no idea that she inspired the song. But it [the experience] isn’t as big a deal as the song makes it sound. I had written some music, and I wrote about what happened. I never even thought too much about her again after I wrote the song.” 

All the same, alchemy was at play. After fitting the lyrics to the music he’d written, complete with that stunning ‘come hither’ guitar intro, Goldilox almost wrote itself. 

“The truth is that the song came easily and fast. It was just like a gift that dropped into my lap,” Tabor recalls fondly. “I didn’t even try too hard. Isat down and the whole thing was done in minutes.” 

Although credited jointly to the band, Tabor demoed the song and played it to the other two in fully formed state. When work began on the Out Of The Silent Planet album at Houston’s Rampart Studios, everybody recognised Goldilox as important. 

“Ty submitted the song just the way you heard it,” Pinnick recalls. “In King’s X, when somebody brings in something we say: ‘Okay, that’s pretty much complete. What can we add to it?’ Here he had the lyrics and the melody; it was a beautiful song about somebody that you’ll probably never see again. I’m sure that’s happened to most of us.” 

But when it came to recording it, there was a problem. Among the qualities of Tabor’s demo that Pinnick loved best was the innocence of Taybor’s vocals. 

“Because I was the singer of the band,” says Pinnick, “Ty and Sam both said: ‘Dug, you sing this.’ And the first time I tried… [he cracks up with laughter at the memory] Ty told me I sounded like Tina Turner. He didn’t like it at all. I didn’t think I could do anything to improve upon what he’d done with the demo, but Sam kept on pushing me, so I re-sang it the way you hear it now. I wasn’t happy with the version on the album, and I’m still not. I much prefer the reprised version that came later on Ogre Tones [2005].”

Despite those continued reservations, 34 years later Goldilox remains a live favourite with King’s X fans, who vocalise the song each night at the band’s concerts. 

“I can’t sing that song live any more, and I never will again,” Pinnick says. “The body and the voice change; it’s too high the way we recorded it on the original album.” 

“Goldilox is still a special moment every night,” says Tabor. “I play it very low, and we let the crowd take it. They do the harmonies, everything. The band playing it is not going to be better than that.” 

Tabor is happy that the song forged such a strong and enduring connection with their fans, but admits: “I do not have any idea why it happened. Goldilox is in the top ten things that I’ve written for the band, and people just seem to love it.” 

In these edgier times it’s mildly amusing to consider that, having observed being checked out across the room, a modern-day Goldilox might demand some kind of impromptu restraining order. 

“Political correctness, right?” Pinnick says. “But there would be no justification in that. Ty didn’t write about touching Goldilox. He wasn’t trying to fuck her. It’s a song about innocence. Ty wanted to know her, to find out who she was. And if somebody has a problem with that, then to me they’re just miserable.” 

The new King’s X album Three Sides Of One is out now via Inside Out Music.

Dave Ling

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.