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Kings of Leon are a Grammy Award-winning rock band which formed in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, United States in 2000 . The band consists of brothers Nathan Followill (drums/backing vocals), Caleb Followill (vocals/rhythm guitar), Jared Followill (bass) and their cousin Matthew Followill (lead guitar).
The group's name is derived from Nathan, Caleb, and Jared's father and grandfather, both named Leon. Jared and Caleb were born in Tennessee, while Nathan and Matthew were born in Oklahoma. The brothers spent much of their youth travelling around the south with their father, a traveling Pentecostal Church preacher and their mother, who taught them when they were not in school. According to Rolling Stone magazine, "While Leon preached at churches and tent revivals throughout the Deep South, the boys attended services and were occasionally enlisted to bang on some drums. They were home-schooled or enrolled in small parochial schools. Except for a five-year stretch when they settled in Jackson, Tennessee, the Followills spent their childhoods driving through the South in a purple 1988 Oldsmobile, decamping for a week or two wherever Leon was scheduled to preach."
Kings of Leon's first release, The Holy Roller Novocaine EP came out in 2003. Four of its five songs would later be released on Youth and Young Manhood, with the songs "California Waiting" and "Wasted Time" being remade.
Their debut album Youth and Young Manhood, released on July 07, 2003, propelled them to relative stardom, particularly outside the US, where they were dubbed one of the driving forces behind the so-called "new rock revolution" by the European press. Upon signing with RCA, they were introduced to Nashville-based song-writer/producer Angelo Petraglia. All songs were co-written with him. Their stakes rose when they were chosen by popular rock bands The Strokes and U2 to tour with them.
The album was chosen in the UK as one of the best 10 debut albums of the last 10 years. With all the adoration of the British, it isn't strange that the song "Fans", from their third album, features the lyrics "All of London sing/Cos England swings and they sure love the tales I bring/And those rainy days, they ain't so bad when you're the king/The king they want to see".
The band's second album Aha Shake Heartbreak was released in the UK in October 2004 and in the US in February 2005. Building on the southern-infused garage rock of their first album, the album was released to widespread acclaim and broadened the band's domestic and international audience. "The Bucket", "Four Kicks", and "King of the Rodeo" were all released as singles, with "The Bucket" rising into the Top 20 in Britain. The band toured with Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan for much of 2005 and 2006.
"On the last night of the Dylan tour," Caleb says, "Dylan came into our dressing room and he says, 'What's that last song you guys played?' And I said, 'Uh, it's called "Trani"'. And Dylan goes, 'That's a hell of a song.' "I think that was pretty much the biggest thrill of my entire life."
In March 2006, it was announced by NME that Kings of Leon were back in the studio, working on their third album. Drummer Nathan Followill told NME.COM: "Man, we're sitting on a bunch of songs right now that we wish we could let the world hear!". The band's third album was titled Because of the Times (reference to an annual preachers' conference the boys attended growing up).
The album was released on April 2, 2007 in the UK, and a day later in the US to virtually universal praise. NME said that the album "cemented Kings of Leon as one of the great American bands of our time" and Entertainment Weekly called Because of the Times "an epic wide-screen movie of a CD and the band's best to date." It entered the charts at #25 in the US and debuted at #1 in the UK selling approximately 70,000 copies in its first week of release. The album was preceded by the single "On Call", which became a hit in Britain. And is arguably the band's most successful commercial and critical release. Other singles are the songs "Fans" and "Charmer."
To date Kings of Leon have sold an estimated 28 million units worldwide of all three albums Youth and Young Manhood, Aha Shake Heartbreak and Because of the Times, making them one of the most commercially successful new bands to hit the scene in decades.
The bands fourth album, entitled Only By The Night, was released on September 23rd, 2008 with more success that expected. It reached top 5 on the Billboard in the US and number 1 at the iTunes store. This album also holds 2 of the top 3 spots in the 2008 Triple J Hottest 100.
In the UK the album is now DOUBLE PLATINUM after reaching number 1 for 2 weeks and it has been in top 10 since its release whilst the single "Sex on Fire" was at the top of the charts #1 for three weeks.
Following the success of the new album, Kings of Leon received three nominations in the 2009 Grammy Awards. The Nashville, TN, four-piece's hit album Only By The Night was nominated for "Best Rock Album," while their single, "Sex On Fire," was up for "Best Rock Song," and "Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals". Despite missing out on two awards, Kings of Leon took home the Grammy for "Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" for their hit single 'Sex on Fire'.
Kings of Leon lead the field of nominees at the NME Awards 2009 with four nominations including Best International Band, Best Live Band, Best Album and Best Track (Sex On Fire).
Kings of Leon have also played at some of the top festivals in Europe including Leeds/Reading, T In The Park, Benicàssim and Glastonbury.
Kings of Leon also performed at Sound Relief - a benefit concert for the devastation of the Victorian Bushfires. They performed with some huge Australian names such as Hunters & Collectors, Wolfmother, Split Enz and Midnight Oil.
The Album "Only By The Night" has been in the iTunes Album Top Ten listing since it was released on September 23rd, 2008.
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