Vincent Skybolt, best known for his work as vocalist and front man of the heavy metal group, Death Pandas of Milan, was born Vincent Raymond Kinison on May 15, 1944. His father, Henry John Kinison, an American aircraft engineer, and his mother, Renée Miller-Kinison, a Scottish factory worker-turned-avant-garde painter, met in Tunisia when their flights had intersecting layovers in the capital city of Tunis. Renée accompanied Henry to Indianapolis, where they were married, and the following year young Vincent was born.
The future dark Rock pioneer, considered by some to be the most prodigal musical curiosity of the twentieth century, emerged from the womb with a malformed right ear and jawline, the earlobe stretching to just below the hinge of his jaw and fusing with the soft skin underneath his right mandible. This deformity served as inspiration for his stage name, Vincent Skybolt, since in his early teens he adopted the custom of telling those who asked about his face that he had been struck by lightning when, on a dare, he’d climbed to the top of an electrical tower during a thunderstorm. Severely rattled, he admitted, though not incapacitated, he’d managed to climb back down and avoid further injury.
Much of Vincent’s early life remains unknown. Dropping out of high school his sophomore year, in the Fall of 1960, he took the stage unannounced at his Homecoming dance, overpowering the befuddled doo-wop group, Shooby and The Boppers, with a deafening rendition of one of his earliest original songs, “Pumpkin-Muffie Insane.” Lyrics:
Greed will murder your soul,
Greed will drive you insane!
Pumpkin-Muffie your soul,
Repeat all, 4X
Between then and the release of his band’s self-titled debut, Death Pandas of Milan, nearly fourteen years later, little is known about the specifics of Vincent’s work and life. Rumors persist about him scaling the summit of Everest, barehandedly subduing rogue hippopotami in the jungles of Mozambique, researching snake venom resistance in northern Siberia, and taming homicidal Great Whites in Australia. Prior to the album’s release in 1974 few people had ever heard the name, Vincent Skybolt, and in the years after as well. Death Pandas of Milan sold seventy-one copies in the United States, four hundred and sixty-three copies worldwide, to the disappointment of his bandmates, whom he had met in the course of his travels.
Archibald Plundertribe ~ lead guitar, pipes, theremin
Menelaus Williams ~ drums, percussion, gas engines, xylophone
Barnabas X ~ piano, keyboards
Yip Wong Phan ~ bass, cello, alpenhorn
Vincent sings lead vocals and plays rhythm guitar on a majority of the group’s nineteen studio albums recorded between 1974 and his alleged death in 2008. Many of them weren’t released upon completion, and most of the albums have yet to be made available to the public.
To conclude this brief biography, the lyrics of one of Vincent Skybolt’s finest solo compositions, “Deathboat to Snowhere”:
Skies on fire, burn so bad,
Skies on ice, cold, cold skice!
Skies that hunger, oceans of hunger,
Deathboat to snowhere, sink us down…