KIX (1981–95). Steve Whiteman (vocals), Donnie Purnell (bass), Ronnie “10/10” Younkins (guitar), Brian “Damage” Forsythe (guitar), Jimmy Chalfant (drums).
Hailing from Baltimore, Maryland, Kix’s music combined a catchy AC/DC-influenced and somewhat Stonesy-sounding brand of rock with hooks, and a great live stage show. Releasing a string of great albums in the mid- to late eighties, they nonetheless were unable to get the recognition they deserved, though they left us with a number of classic discs.
After earning a reputation as a great live act on the club circuit in their native Baltimore, Kix, featuring vocalist Steve Whiteman, bassist and main songwriter Donnie Purnell, guitarists Ronnie “10/10” Younkins and Brian “Damage” Forsythe, and drummer Jimmy Chalfant, inked a deal with Atlantic Records and released their self-titled debut in 1981. The album featured a number of fun, infectious rockers, like “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” “The Kid,” and “Atomic Bombs,” but wasn’t particularly successful. It did help the band to build its fan base, especially as they began to tour heavily behind the album. 1983’s follow-up Cool Kids was slightly more commercial, featuring the single “Body Talk.”
The band’s creative high point came with 1985’s Midnight Dynamite. Produced by Ratt producer Beau Hill, the album presents Kix in their best (and most accurate) light, with their strongest set of songs and performances. With songs like the single “Cold Shower,” as well as “Sex” and “Bang Bang (Balls of Fire),” the band put its best foot forward, producing an album that remains a classic. The album
was more successful than its predecessors but still not the breakthrough that the band and its label had hoped that it would be. Nonetheless, it helped to set the stage for their next album, Blow My Fuse, which would provide that breakthrough. Produced by famed producer Tom Werman (Cheap Trick, Motley Crue) and released in 1988, the album was similar to Midnight Dynamite, although perhaps not quite as strong, despite being somewhat more commercial. The ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes” provided the band its first and only hit and helped the album to enter the charts. Videos for the song and others gave the band newfound visibility, while they also found themselves opening on tours for Aerosmith and AC/DC.
With the success of Blow My Fuse, the band realized that its financial affairs were in bad shape because of the debt they had incurred with their label. As a result, they saw little recompense from their “successful” album. Although they would follow it up with the excellent Hot Wire in 1991, a move to Atlantic subsidiary East/West and a shift in musical trends toward alternative rock served to hinder the band’s commercial progress, and they sold a mere 200,000 copies of the album. After the release of the 1993 live album Kix Live, the band’s relationship with Atlantic was finished. The band would go on to release one more album on the smaller CMC label (1995’s Show Business) before calling it a day, with the members going on to pursue separate projects, although they have periodically reunited for one-off gigs and small tours in recent years (minus bassist Purnell).
Discography: Kix (Atlantic, 1981); Cool Kids (Atlantic, 1983); Midnite Dynamite (Atlantic, 1985); Blow My Fuse (Atlantic, 1988); Hot Wire (Atlantic, 1991); Kix Live (Atlantic, 1993); Show Business (CMC International, 1995); Live (Wounded Bird, 2005); The Essentials (Warner Strategic, 2002); Metal Hits (Rhino Flashback, 2003).