Elle King has been kicking ass and taking names since releasing her debut album Love Stuff last year. If you’re not familiar with the 25-year-old, you’ve probably heard her music in the theme song to VH1’s Mob Wives Chicago series or on the soundtracks of Hot Pursuit and This 40 or in that Mad Men ad campaign. And you likely saw her appearances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Late Late Show with James Corden, The Today Show and Live with Kelly & Michael and heard her music played across channels like Alt Nation (who was an early and often supporter) The Spectrum and Hits 1.

If her name still isn’t ringing a bell, you may actually be living under a rock — but we’re here to introduce you to your new favorite banjo-wielding rockstar.

The singer/songwriter/guitarist/banjoist draws comparisons to Janis Joplin and rockabilly pioneer Wanda Jackson as well as modern artists like Duffy. She sings about heartbreak in a style that encompasses country, soul, folk, rock and blues. She’s known for her raucous, irreverent, intimate and engaging presence on stage, where she’ll talk about flashing her boobs, take swigs of booze, thrash her hair around and maybe even lick someone’s face. As her Instagram bio tells us: “When I’m good, I’m good. But when I’m bad, I’m better.”

King’s music career started at age 16, when she started gigging around New York City (using a fake ID) and busking on the streets. She was signed to RCA in March 2012 and released her four-song EP, The Elle King EP, a few months later via RCA/Fat Possum Records. The effort’s lead track, Playing For Keeps, was chosen as the theme for VH1’s Mob Wives Chicago. Soon after, King was highlighted as an Artist to Watch by Esquire.

She spent some time on the festival circuit, as well as touring with Of Monsters and Men, Train, Michael Kiwanuka and Modest Mouse. She opened for Ed Sheeran and James Bay. And she found time to release her debut album, Love Stuff, in February 2015.

In September 2015, she became the second-ever female solo act since 1996 to top Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart with her single Ex’s and Oh’s, which has since been certified gold and been nominated for Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song Grammys.

Elle King’s career is only gaining momentum, and we can’t get enough of her.

15 Fun Facts

  1. Elle King was born Tanner Elle Schneider in 1989 to model London King and former SNL cast member Rob Schneider, who were married in a whirlwind three-day Vegas romance and divorced shortly after Elle was born.
  2. Her mother remarried and moved to southern Ohio, where Elle grew up around conservative Christians.
  3. At age nine, she asked her stepfather to buy her a Shaggy CD, but he came back with a record by all-girl pop-punk band The Donnas, sparking Elle’s desire to be a musician.
  4. She made her acting debut alongside her father in the movie Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigalo, where she played Cookie Girl (she is listed in the credits as Elle Tanner Schneider).vlcsnap-2014-01-26-16h51m17s69
  5. Elle was once recruited for an all-girl pop group formed by American Idol’s Randy Jackson, but the group fizzled out during the planning stages.
  6. She was inspired to teach herself to play the banjo after she “saw this cute boy” playing one and became “obsessed.”
  7. When she was 18, she took her mom’s last name “because she raised me, and I wanted to be my own person.”
  8. She has more than 35 tattoos.
  9. She is good friends with Frances Bean Cobain and her mom Courtney Love.
  10. Her father’s pal Adam Sandler sends her videos of his kids singing her songs.
  11. She’s received Twitter endorsements from the likes of Reese Witherspoon and Paramore’s Haley Williams.
  12. She has a chipped front tooth from accidentally hitting it with a microphone.
  13. If you thought Taylor Swift’s exes had it coming, think again. Elle says she’ll “write a mean-ass song about you” if you mess with her.
  14. Her dream duet would be with Dolly Parton.
  15. She covered Khia’s My Neck, My Back on her 2012 EP, earning a compliment from Khia herself, who called Elle a “thug missus.”

10 Essential Tracks

Ex’s & Oh’s

My Neck, My Back [Khia Cover]

Playing for Keeps

The Weight [The Band Cover]

Good to Be A Man

Kokaine Karolina

American Girl [Tom Petty Cover]

Under the Influence

America’s Sweetheart

Where the Devil Don’t Go

Photo by Shane McCauley/Sony

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