Kings of Leon is an American rock band that formed in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee in 1999, consisting of brothers Anthony Caleb Followill (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Ivan Nathan Followill (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Michael Jared Followill (bass, backing vocals), with their cousin Cameron Matthew Followill (lead guitar, backing vocals). Each member of the family group is known by his middle name (second given name) as opposed to his first given name. The band's early music was an upbeat blend of Southern rock and blues influences, but it has gradually expanded its sound to include a variety of genres and a more alternative rock or arena rock sound. Kings of Leon achieved initial success in the United Kingdom with nine Top 40 singles, two BRIT Awards in 2008, and all three of the band's albums at the time peaking in the top five of the UK Albums Chart. Their third album Because of the Times also reached the #1 spot. After the release of Only by the Night in September 2008 they finally achieved chart success in their native United States. The singles "Sex on Fire", "Use Somebody" and "Notion" all peaked at #1 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks. The album itself was their first ever platinum-selling album in the United States. It was the best-selling album of 2008 in Australia, being certified nine-times Platinum. The band's fifth album, Come Around Sundown, was released on October 18, 2010.
The three Followill brothers spent much of their youth traveling around the southern United States with their father, Ivan Leon Followill, a United Pentecostal Church preacher and their mother, Betty-Ann, who taught them when they were not in school. Caleb and Jared were both born in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. They all attended Mount Juliet High School. Nathan and Matthew were born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 either home-schooled or enrolled in small parochial schools at this time. Except for a five-year period when they settled in Jackson, Tennessee, the Followills' childhoods were spent driving through the southern United States in a purple 1988 Oldsmobile, decamping for a week or two wherever Leon was scheduled to preach." When the boys' father resigned from the church and divorced his wife in 1997, the boys relocated to Nashville and embraced the rock music and lifestyle they had previously been denied. While there, they met songwriter Angelo Petraglia, who helped the siblings hone their songwriting skills and introduced them to the musical influences of Thin Lizzy, Rolling Stones and The Clash in particular. Six months later, Nathan and Caleb signed with RCA Records, who insisted that the duo recruit more members for the band before launching their career. The band was formed when cousin Matthew and younger brother Jared were asked to join. They named themselves Kings of Leon in honor of Nathan, Caleb, and Jared's father (Matthew's uncle) and grandfather, who were both named Leon.
In an interview with Billboard, Nathan Followill described how the band was formed. "When we signed the deal [with RCA], it was just me and Caleb. The label said, 'We're gonna put you a band together,' and we were like, 'We don't want to be Evan & Jaron. We're going to buy our little brother a bass, he's a freshman in high school. Caleb will teach himself the guitar. Our cousin (Matthew) played guitar when he was 10. I'll play the drums, I played in church when I was little.' They said, 'All right, we'll come down in one month and see you guys.' " Later in the interview the brothers admitted to "kidnapping" their cousin Matthew from his hometown in Mississippi in order for him to join the band. They told his mother that he was only going to be staying for a week and just never let him go home. "We locked ourselves in the basement with an ounce of marijuana and literally spent a month down there. My mom would bring us food down," added Nathan. "And at the end of that month the label people came and we had 'Molly's Chambers', 'California Waiting', 'Wicker Chair' and 'Holy Roller Novocaine.' "