The band named themselves Kings of Leon after Nathan, Caleb and Jared’s father (Matthew’s uncle) and grandfather, who were both called Leon. Their father was a United Pentecostal Church preacher, and the three Followill brothers spent a lot of their youth travelling, going between places that he was scheduled to preach. After he resigned from the church, the family relocated to Nashville, and it was here that they started immersing themselves in the rock’n’roll lifestyle. They were introduced to the sounds of Thin Lizzy, the Rolling Stones and the Clash by Angelo Petraglia, a songwriter, who also helped them hone their writing skills.
Nathan and Caleb signed a deal with RCA, but not before ensuring they could have Jared and Matthew in the band as well, which delayed the deal by a month. They have told of how they spent a month locked in the basement “with an ounce of marijuana” writing songs for their debut album. At the end of the month, they had Molly’s Chambers, California Waiting, Wicker Chair and Holy Roller Novocaine, all songs which would go on to be fan favourites at Kings of Leon tours.
Their first EP, Holy Roller Novocaine, was released in February 2003. It gave them a sizeable amount of exposure before the release of their debut album, with Rolling Stone magazine awarding it four out of five stars. Four of the songs contained on the EP later appeared on Youth and Young Manhood, their debut album, which came out later that year. The album was an instant hit in the UK and received a warm critical reception.
Their second album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, was released in October 2004 and contained the singles The Bucket, Four Kicks and King of the Rodeo. They started receiving more and more airplay on popular radio stations and music channels and Kings of Leon tickets started selling in their droves.
Their third album, Because of the Times, was released in April 2007. The single On Call went to number one in the UK and Ireland, and other anthemic, sing-along singles Fans and Charmer also did very well commercially, heightening interest and demand for Kings of Leon tickets.
Only By the Night was released in September 2008 and shot straight to the top of the album chart. The infamous Sex on Fire single saturated the airwaves, and it became their most successful song to date, reaching number one and bagging them a Grammy Award. They received two BRITs at the 2009 ceremony, for Best International Band and Best International Album. Kings of Leon tickets were selling in unprecedented volumes for their tours and footage from their gig at the O2 Arena became their first live DVD. Over 18,000 Kings of Leon tickets sold for this gig.
In January 2010 they won three Grammys for Record of the Year, Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Rock Song for Use Somebody.
Their latest album, Come Around Sundown, was released in October 2010 and is supported by a Kings of Leon world tour. The album, perhaps unsurprisingly, debuted at number one in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland and the UK. Kings of Leon are one of the biggest bands in the world right now, so don’t miss your chance to see them live.