80's Rock: Kix

kixKix is an American glam metal band who achieved popularity in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Kix was started by Ronnie "10/10" Younkins and Donnie Purnell in Dec. of 1977 in Hagerstown, Maryland. The first song Ronnie and Donnie played together was Atomic Bombs. They played with two musicians from Pittsburgh, "Tee" and "Tunes." The first practices were at the Old Mill Inn, in Williamsport, MD, just outside of Hagerstown. Because "Tee" and "Tunes" lived so far away the rehearsals didn't work out. They started rehearsing with Brian "Damage" Forsythe, whom Ronnie asked to join the new band. Soon after they invited Donnie Spence to join as a drummer. He didn't have a car so he was picked up every day for rehearsals.

Steve Whiteman was added to the band after a couple of other lead singers (Terry Brady and Sam Smith) didn't work out. Steve also played drums, so he and Donnie Spence, who was also a good singer, would alternate drums and lead vocals. Steve though, sang all the difficult songs. The guys met Steve at a show at The Other Place in Ridgely, WV. They had heard about him, and went to see him play with his old band. During the break they took him out to the car and played him a cassette of their original songs. They asked him to join. A week later Steve moved to Hagerstown, to join what was then called "The Shooze."

After a while, Donnie Spence didn't work out anymore. Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant was recruited as the drummer for "The Shooze." Jimmy was Donnie Purnells old bandmate and had played with him in his previous bands "Fire and Rain", "Starship" and "Jax". Ronnie used to go see Donnie and Jimmy playin those bands. From the beginning Ronnie had envisioned this as the perfect line-up: Donnie (who also wrote cool songs), Jimmy and Brian, all musicians he knew and admired from around town. So by late 1979 the classic Kix lineup of Steve Whiteman (lead vocals), Ronnie "10/10" Younkins (guitars), Brian "Damage" Forsythe (guitars), Donnie Purnell (bass, keyboards, backing vocals), and Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant (drums, backing vocals) was complete.

They changed their name to "The Generators," when they realized there was another band out of Chicago, named "The Shooze." They began recording their first album on Atlantic in 1980 before eventually settling on "Kix."

Early years
kix_3In 1981, they released their self-titled debut album, Kix, featuring "Atomic Bombs", "Heartache", "Contrary Mary", "The Itch", and "The Kid". "Love at First Sight" instantly became a concert favorite. "Kix Are for Kids" creatively merged the name of the band with two popular cereals of the 1960s and 1970s, Kix (that featured an atomic bomb commercial) and the Trix Rabbit ("Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!"). "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" became the band's most popular concert song, always with a unique ad-lib performance by lead vocalist Steve Whiteman. With this album, the tongue-in-cheek rock & roll style of Kix was established.

Commercial success
In 1982, guitarist Ronnie "10/10" Younkins was fired and replaced by Brad Divens (Souls at Zero/Wrathchild America/Wrathchild), . and Their 1983 followup, Cool Kids, showcased a markedly more commercial side of the band, featuring the title song, and the single "Body Talk".

Somewhat overlooked, but a favorite the bands predominantly female audience, was the ballad "For Shame". In 1983, having been gone for slightly less than a year, Ronnie "10/10" Younkins returned to Kix, reuniting the "classic" lineup.

Kix then partnered up with RATT and Warrant producer, Beau Hill, and in 1985, released the album Midnite Dynamite, featuring a hard rock single by the same name and funk rock songs "Cold Shower" and "Sex". The album also included the song "Bang Bang (Balls of Fire)", which was co-written by Purnell and Kip Winger. Outside players such as session drummer Anton Fig who played on two tracks,as well as Mike Slamer (Streets/City Boy/Warrant)who receives credit for additional guitars helped redefine the band's sound. With this new sound Kix would now be at the forefront of the Hair Metal genre alongside contemporaries Warrant,Poison and Winger.

kix_1

The band then headed west to begin to make a name for themselves, in such places as the Sunset Strip, where Slaughter,Faster Pussycat and other glam metal bands rose to stardom. However, while building a name for themselves in L.A., and at a gig opening for fellow rockers Poison at the L.A.'s Country Club, the band noticed how much alike the two bands were. Although Kix predates Poison by several years they have often been compared to Poison since, Poison themselves, went on to become one of glam metal's biggest successes.

In 1987, lead vocalist Steve Whiteman was one of many musicians heard on Twisted Sister's album Love Is for Suckers. Others included Winger bassist/lead vocalist Kip Winger and guitarist Reb Beach.

Kix went back into the studio to record more of Donny Purnell's songs. In 1988, they released Blow My Fuse, and finally achieved fame as it went platinum. The slow ballad "Don't Close Your Eyes"—containing anti-suicide lyrics—led the way (peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100) and other popular cuts followed. The album featured the popular singles "Cold Blood" and "Blow My Fuse", along with popular videos showing the band in concert at Hammerjack's. In 1989, the band released Blow My Fuse: The Videos, with their now-popular videos and behind-the-scenes footage. As Kix finally graduated to arenas, they opened for such popular artists as Ratt.

Kix took time out in late 1988 to visit Britain for a three-show trek, which included a gig at Birmingham's Edwards No 8 club, a support slot to Yngwie Malmsteen at the Dominion Theatre in London, and a headlining slot in the capital's legendary Marquee Club.

Returning to the U.S., Ronnie "10/10" Younkins spent a period of time in rehab for a drug problem, but rejoined the group now sober in the new year. Kix successfully toured with RATT and Britny Fox in early 1989, allowed a step-up on the bill in a gentlemanly gesture by Britny Fox in Landover, Maryland. The band performed an absolute blinder in front of their adoring home-state audience.

Later years
kix_2Unfortunately, financial disaster happened by way of their original deal with Atlantic. Years of poor sales had left the band heavily in debt with the label. Contract disputes and changes delayed their next album for three years.

The album Hot Wire finally arrived in 1991, with the single "Girl Money". But it was too late; grunge arrived out of Seattle, replacing hair and glam bands. In 1992, guitarist Jimi K. Bones replaced Brian "Damage" Forsythe. While on tour in 1992, they made a live album, titled Live at the University of Maryland, College Park. This album, internally referred to as Contractual Obligation Live, was released in 1993. In 1994 Atlantic dropped the band from that label. In 1995, the band released their final album, $how Bu$ine$$, on CMC International. This album featured drummer Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant's relative Paul Chalfant on viola. As Steve Whiteman says, "the music industry started a new party and Kix was not invited." In 1995, guitarist Pat DeMent briefly played in Kix. Shortly after, Kix disbanded in late 1995, and Hammerjack's Concert Hall was torn down on June 12, 1997, to make way for a parking lot for the Baltimore Ravens' stadium.

kix_steve_whitemanSide projects
In 1996, Steve Whiteman formed a band called Funny Money in Hagerstown with former Ghost and Burning Starr bassist Ned Meloni and guitarist Billy Andrews, rounded out by guitarist Dean Cramer and drummer Bobby George, with whom he continues to work.

In 1998, Brian "Damage" Forsythe teamed up with ex-White Sister and Tattoo Rodeo drummer Rick Wright, and erstwhile Rhino Bucket members rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist Georg Dolivo (George Dolivo) and bassist Reeve Downes to forge Deep Six Holiday. Ronnie "10/10" Younkins relocated to Baltimore City, and would be located in rock 'n' roll act Jeremy and the Suicides.

In 2001, guitarist Brian "Damage" Forsythe joined Rhino Bucket, being announced as so in early 2002.

Internet reports in early 2004 that drummer Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant had died in a car crash near Smithsburg, Maryland proved mistaken. Tragically for the Kix drummer, the actual victim was his elder brother, Jason Chalfant.

In 2000, Whiteman would turn up as guest vocalist on a version of "Foolin'" on the Def Leppard tribute album Leppardmania: A Tribute to Def Leppard. Ironically, Whiteman has always had a voice considerably similar to Def Leppard lead vocalist Joe Elliott, as well as the late Bon Scott of AC/DC, and Brian Johnson of AC/DC.

Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant joined Funny Money as their drummer in 2003. Whiteman also teaches voice at the Musician's Institute in Baltimore, and Triple R Guitar in Lemoyne, Pennsylvania. Ronnie "10/10" Younkins moved to L.A., then wrote, recorded, and released the album The Slimmer Twins: Lack of Luxury, as a collaboration with vocalist Jeremy L. White in 2000. Back on the East Coast, he founded the Blues Vultures in 2002, maturing into the lead vocalist and primary songwriter, and in 2005, released the album The Blues Vultures: Cheap Guitars & Honky Tonk Bars. Brian "Damage" Forsythe Is now with Rhino Bucket, joining the band in 2001. Brian performs lead guitar on Rhino Bucket's 2005 release And Then It Got Ugly.

Recent events
A new version Kix reformed in late 2003 sans songwriter and band leader Purnell. Kix then lined-up reunion shows for September 2004, the lineup consisting of Steve Whiteman (lead vocals), Ronnie "10/10" Younkins (guitars), Brian "Damage" Forsythe (guitars), Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant (drums, backing vocals), and Funny Money bassist Mark Schenker (bass, backing vocals) in place of Donnie Purnell. This lineup has teamed up a quite few times for the last few years to do Kix reunion shows in the Maryland/Pennsylvania area that have been very well attended although not well received critically.

With Donnie Purnell not being in Kix, there is an absence of keyboards, especially in songs such as "Don't Close Your Eyes". During live performances, they are sequenced, with drummer Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant using a click track metronome.

A stripped-down, acoustic-version of "Don't Close Your Eyes" was contributed to the VH1 Metal Mania Stripped Volume 3 compilation album, issued through Sidewinder Music in March 2007.

On March 5, 2008, it was announced that Kix would participate in the Rocklahoma festival. They performed on Saturday, July 12, 2008, and it was a very successful show, with an audience of over around 20,000 people, including a torrential downpour lasting exactly the duration of their set.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org and Hair Band Rock - 80's Rock


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