John CooperVocals, guitar1996-
Jen LedgerDrums, vocals2008-
Seth MorrisonLead guitar2011-
Ken SteortsLead guitar1996-1999
Kevin HaalandLead guitar1999-2001
Ben KasicaLead guitar 2001-2011
Skillet was formed in 1996 by lead singer and bassist John Cooper, guitarist Ken Steorts, and drummer Trey McClurkin. Within a month they'd received interest from major Christian record label ForeFront Records and in October 1996 they released a self-titled debut album.
Cooper was also the band's piano player in their early days but after a couple of years he enlisted his wife, Korey, to play keyboards live in order to lessen his live performance duties.
Jen Ledger was recruited as Skillet's drummer in 2008 when she was just 18, after the band attended her local church in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Impressed by her skills, they asked her to audition to replace their existing drummer, Lori Peters, who was retiring. Ledger was chosen, and she kicked off her Skillet career with the Comatose Tour.
Skillet's 2009 album, Awake, debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200. It was the highest-charting Christian album since Underoath's 2006 release, Define the Great Line.
Awake was one of just three rock albums to be certified platinum in 2012, along with the Black Keys' El Camino and Mumford & Sons' Babel.
Skillet's fan base comprises both Christians and mainstream rock lovers. Their 2003 single "Savior
" was the first of many of the band's songs to enter Billboard's Mainstream rock chart.
"What's really interesting about Skillet is the fan base is so diverse," Cooper told Billboard
in 2019. "There are the Christian fans. There are the church group fans, but there are also hard rock fans, people who love Metallica and Slipknot. They like Skillet too, and then you have people who like Skillet that don't even like rock music. Then we have a lot of girl fans that a lot of rock bands don't usually have because there's a nice softer feminine side of Skillet. It's not because we have girls, but we have Jen singing sometimes and there's piano and strings. There's some romance to it."
Before joining Skillet, Korey Cooper and Lori Peters performed together in the band Alkeme.
John Cooper explains how the band settled on the name Skillet: "All the band members were actually in other bands that we had each been working hard in for several years. That's why we called it Skillet. It was like taking ingredients from all sorts of bands and various genres and throwing it together in the skillet."
Prior to forming Skillet, Cooper was in the experimental rock band Seraph, and Steorts played guitar in the Christian rock group Urgent Cry.
In 2019, John Cooper published his graphic novel, Eden. Cooper describes the post-apocalyptic story as The Hunger Games meets The Walking Dead. "It's this group of people that are all trying to survive and find a better life," he explained. "There is a very big spiritual undertone to the book. Again, it’s kind of like Skillet’s music. You may listen to Skillet and not know it’s a Christian song, but there is an undertone there. That is what the book is like."
John Cooper launched his own podcast, Cooper Stuff, in 2019, covering topics like faith, love, and his obsession with Marvel Comics.
After leaving Skillet, Ken Steorts founded the Visible Music College in Memphis, Tennessee. The faith-based institution offers four-year Bachelor's degrees in Modern Music, Music Production, and Music Business.