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What Slayer’s Kerry King Can’t Live Without

Photo: courtesy of Andrew Stuart

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Kerry King — lead guitarist of the band Slayer, which is embarking on the North American leg of its farewell tour this fall — about the conditioner, pinball machine, and guitar he can’t live without.

My team is the Raiders. I’ve already got my tickets for when they move to Las Vegas next year. Opening weekend this year, I’m going to fly into Oakland for that. I got a handful of jerseys, but generally my go-to is No. 25. I remember the year I got it — 1994, when the Raiders were still in L.A.


I think it’s very difficult to pick one album. I was completely on the fence about putting Black Sabbath instead, or in addition to, because realistically Sabbath started it all. But in L.A., the radio would play Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight” and “Breaking the Law” — you know, the hits, so to speak. What I liked about it was they had two guitar players and, to this day, my favorite singer. So it was just natural for me to buy the record and find out that they are far more metal than “Living After Midnight” would ever suggest, and then buying the previous albums and doing my homework.

I head-bang all the time onstage, so yeah, conditioner finds its way into my beard; otherwise it would just be a big dread. For conditioner, it’ll either be Pantene or Fructis — those are the ones I’ve found to detangle well. I’m sure there’s other stuff that’s awesome, probably even more awesome.

I don’t know what it is about pinball. I actually have five machines, but one is broken so I don’t count it. More than TV and video games, I was always drawn to pinball — even 30 years ago when I was going to arcades. The South Park one is broken, and that’s my fault. I was moving it, and the dolly gave way and the glass shattered. The active ones I have right now are Metallica, Family Guy, and Game of Thrones. We watched Game of Thrones till the very end, and Family Guy is one of my favorite shows.

Last year, I met Jim Jefferies, and we became friends — he’s definitely one of my favorites right now. He’s got his own show on Comedy Central; it’s political satire. If he comes through Vegas or L.A., we will definitely go and watch his show. It’s funny, he’s a pinball guy, too. He’s been over for the last two Super Bowls. I don’t think we got up into the pinball room. We play pinball at his place.

I’ve been going to Europe since 1985, and let me tell you, Europe is not as fond of ice as America is. To this day, it’s funny. In a hotel in America, there are ice machines. It sounds very petty, but when you like cold drinks, you have to call the front desk to get ice. If they remember, you might get it in half an hour. It’s just something I gotta have backstage. I like my drinks cold. It’s on our band rider; there’s got to be clean ice available. At gigs, anyway. So that’s generally been taken care of for the past couple of decades.

I bred snakes off and on since the late ’80s. There was a time when I got completely out of it because my hobby started taking up more time than my job and I had to refocus where I should be spending my time. Then I met my wife in 2001, we got married, and a couple years later, she was like, “I think I’d like to have a snake.” I said, “Well, let me tell you, I used to be a snake breeder.” I still had all the connections from when I was doing it and got back into breeding. Now I’m probably the biggest python breeder in the U.S.

Except for a 10-year period in the ’90s when I was on ESP guitars, I’ve been on B.C. Rich guitars — and generally they’re custom-made for me. We come up with a paint design, and that becomes the model fans can buy. What people probably don’t really consider is that we have three different guitar rigs across the world at any given time. So you have to use your A rig, your B rig, your C rig, depending on where you’re performing. It cuts down on shipping, and it’s cost effective for traveling the world. So there are guitars I don’t even see until I see a particular rig. I’m going to guess I’ve got about 30 guitars? That’s ballpark. I could be way off.

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What Slayer’s Kerry King Can’t Live Without