Sunday Old School: Kix
Kix were popular in the glam scene, yet under the radar band that had minor success in the eighties. In fact, they were around before the second round of glam acts (SEE: Poison, Warrant, etc…) and many feel had their stage show stolen by these bands. Regardless, their sleazy style of music (which was never really glam) and their great live shows this was always a “band’s band” and didn’t reach the commercial success of others (SEE: Poison, Warrant, etc…).
The band was formed in Hagerstown, Maryland. They were known as the Shooze and Generators before solidifying the line-up and becoming Kix. By the time they got a major label deal, the band comprised of Steve Whiteman (vocals), Ronnie Younkins (guitar), Brian Forsythe (guitar), Donnie Purnell (bass) and Jimmy Chalfant (drums). Their debut single was "The Itch," and other early tunes such as "Sex" and "Cold Shower" gained the band the reputation of being harder and having more of a sense of humor than some of the other bands out West in Hollywood. Brad Divenswould replaced Younkins for the ‘Cool Kids’ album, but Ronnie would return for the following tour.
Kix put out a video for the song “Cool Kids” that features the band mates running into each other on the street and then playing a concert for their fans. The initial street scene is very typical eighties with lines of big hair fans waiting to see a rock show. The video showcases how Kix reaches out to their fans with a “hey man, we’re all in this together” attitude. My assumption is this bond eventually led to “So who’s got cocaine?” In addition to a great use of steps for guitar solos and jumping during a chorus the video makes a general statement that life is fun, until the cops show up.
In 1985 the band released ‘Midnight Dynamite’ which included the singles “Midnight Dynamite” and “Cold Shower”, both charting in the top 40 of the rock charts. The next album, ‘Blow My Fuse’, would continue their popularity on the rock chart and open up Kix to mainstream success. For a short while they became MTV darlings and would reach the Billboard Top 50, propelled by the success of the ballad "Don't Close Your Eyes."
The video for “Blow My Fuse” featured the band live on stage and also hanging out with their fans or “people.” This was clearly not a band that discriminated as all walks of life are represented – young guys, groupies, and even old guys smoking Pall Mall cigarettes. When not on stage the band is hanging out in diners, eating pizza, and drinking coffee; back on stage at 3:00 in the video, all members drop to their knees, a classic arena rock move.
The video for the ballad, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” starts with keyboards, a beach scene, and a broken down girl. On stage Whiteman is bent over (because it hurts to sing such meaningful lyrics). During the chorus the microphone stand is dramatically lifted and the guitarist thrusts, swaying his hair from left to right. Back to the girl, UH-OH! The girl has a bottle of blue pills – either this is not going to end well or she is going to wake up with a huge erection. She places a phone call and then falls asleep. Luckily she wakes and crushes the bottle, apparently disappointed with the lack of an erection.
“Cold Blood” was another video released from ‘Blow My Fuse’ that showcased the bands high energy stage act as well as a brunette who (I’m assuming) only bleeds cold blood.
The next album, ‘Hot Wire’, was nowhere near as big commercially (although just as loved by their hardcore fans), and half way through the supporting tour Forsythe would quit and be replaced by Jimmi K. Bones.
By 1994 the band had lost its record label contract, and released the next album, ‘$how Bu$ine$$’, on the fledgling CMC International. Pat DeMent replaced Forsythe for the tour, but it would be the bands last gigs. In early 1996 the band officially announced their break-up, and the members went their separate ways. Whiteman went on to front the heavily Kix influenced band called Funny Money while Forsythe showed up in Rhino Bucket. Occasionally the band regroups for live shows, with the exception of Purnell, to give fans another look at an incredible live show. One of the true great bands of the hard rock genre, too bad they never got the respect (or props from the copy cats) they deserved.
“Blow My Fuse”
“Don’t Close Your Eyes”
“Yeah Yeah Yeah” …live
“The Itch” …live
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