It's funny how an off-the-wall comment or a seemingly meaningless incident can change a career. Justin and Dan Hawkins were struggling guitarists from Suffolk who'd rolled through a number of bands together and separately, with little measurable success. In '97, Justin was a university student and Dan had moved to London. Various line-ups, including bassist Frankie Poullain and drummer Ed Graham, failed to connect. But it was New Year's Eve '99-'00: The Millennium that things changed.
Justin entered a karaoke competition and delivered a highly theatrical performance of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." After years of looking for a suitable lead singer Dan saw potential in his older brother's performance. With the front man and lead guitarist set, Poullain and Graham were re-recruited and The Darkness came to life. The group released Permission To Land in '03.
Following a major tour and tons of press, The Darkness returned to the studio in '05. But not without problems. At one point the group disbanded. Justin underwent therapy (since when do Rock stars want to be healed?). Eventually, Poullain was canned and replaced by the group's guitar tech, Richie Edwards. Under the guidance of producer Roy Thomas Baker, The Darkness unfurled their sophomore effort "One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back" in '05.
When a band member announces he is going into rehab it often strikes fans as coming out of the blue. But for band members and those close-by, the action is probably a necessity. In October, '06, Justin announced he was taking leave from the group to get treatment for his (reportedly 2,000 dollar a week) drug problem.
At this point, there was more news than action. First, it was announced via the band's website that Edwards would become the group's new frontman, with Toby MacFarlaine taking over on bass. Then came word that the updated line-up wouldn't be called The Darkness but Stone Gods.
Meanwhile, Justin started his own band, Hot Leg. This outfit actually released an album, "Red Light Fever," but neither the album nor associated singles made an impression.
With everyone thinking The Darkness was gone for good, it was officially announced on 3/15/11 that they would reunite with all of the original members. In early '12 Justin reported that nine songs for the group's third album were "done or finished, all sounding shiny and good."
Featuring the single, "Every Inch Of You," the album "Hot Cakes" dropped later that year.
It did well on both sides of the Atlantic. The set topped the U.K. Rock Chart while peaking at #4 on the Album survey.
In the U.S., the album only reached #42 on the Billboard 200, but it did land at #2 on the Billboard Hard Rock Albums Chart and #12 on the Rock Albums list.
Before recording started on their next album, The Darkness announced they had parted ways with Graham. "For various reasons, we have all decided to move on," read a band statement.
Graham, who suffered from a blood disorder (osteonecrosis) and had undergone hip replacement surgery, played on the group's first three albums.
Just before '14 came to a close, The Darkness announced Graham's replacement, Emily Dolan Davies. "She's got the chops and the attitude that you need to be The Darkness' drummer," said Hawkins.
The Darkness issued their fourth album, "Last Of Our Kind," on their own label, Canary Dwarf Records. "The new album is brutal," Hawkins said of the '15 effort.
2003 Permission To Land
2005 One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back
2012 Hot Cakes
2015 Last Of Our Kind
The Darkness should be the name of a Goth-Metal act not a group that sounds like Slade fronted by a Freddie Mercury (Queen) impersonator. Slashing guitars and Velveeta (beyond cheesy) riffs with Justin Hawkins working his falsetto is a 'can't lose' proposition.