Originally calling themselves Shooze and eventually changing their name to the Generators and ultimately, Kix, Baltimore's favorite hard rock band garnered quite a reputation for themselves as one of Maryland's most exciting live cover bands prior to signing to Atlantic Records in 1981. Led by frontman Steve Whiteman and creative mastermind/bassist Donnie Purnell, the band is rounded out by drummer Jimmy Chalfant and guitarists Ronnie Younkins (nicknamed 10/10) and Brian Jay Forsythe. Hitting the club circuit six nights a week for three straight years resulted in the band cultivating a huge local fan base and led to a contract with the Time Warner affiliate. Releasing their self-titled debut in 1981, Kix featured live favorites like "Atomic Bombs," the glorious "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah," and "The Kid." To support the release, the quintet set out to hit every club up and down the East Coast. Their 1983 follow-up, Cool Kids, showcased a slightly more commercial side of the band. Spearheaded by the single "Body Talk," rumors ran rampant that the song was written to appease the band's label, who, eager to capture some steam at radio, also forced the band into shooting a horrendous video for the song which featured the band in full-on workout mode. Other songs like "Restless Blood" and "Mighty Mouth" fared a little better. Eager to get back in the studio, Kix partnered up with Ratt and future Warrant producer Beau Hill and released Midnite Dynamite -- their "self-proclaimed favorite record ever." The album featured a great single, "Cold Shower," and some other notable cuts like "Sex" and "Bang Bang (Balls of Fire)."
Then a funny thing happened on the way to album number three. As the band got ready for a brief West Coast jaunt, the boys kept hearing some fishy stuff about another young, good looking frontman by the name of Brett Michaels. The big hoopla around town was that the young upstart was said to have stolen singer Steve Whiteman's stage act. Rumor became fact and here is why: prior to Poison relocating to Los Angeles, the band had often come out to see Kix perform live. Now local heroes in their own right, it was clear that Michaels had more than borrowed a few stage moves from the charismatic Kix singer. Sadly, when Kix got the opportunity to open for Poison at L.A.'s Country Club, their worse fears materialized as they stood in stunned silence watching a younger, better looking, musically challenged Poison from the side of the stage. The band had not only stolen Whiteman's stage moves, they'd just about stolen their entire stage act from underneath them.
Weathered but not to be counted out, Kix returned to the studio with hard rock veteran Tom Werman to record what would become their one and only breakthrough record. The band's fourth effort, Blow My Fuse, was released in 1988 and would finally feature the monstrous hit the band had worked so hard for -- it would appear in the way of a ballad, the "Dream On" inspired "Don't Close Your Eyes." As the song raced up the charts, the band began to garner the recognition it had fought so long and so hard for. To the band's credit, other excellent cuts also permeated the release. First single and video "Cold Blood," "Blow My Fuse," "Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT," and "No Ring Around Rosie" all showcased the band doing what it does best. As Kix finally graduated to arenas; for the next year and a half, the band would open for heroes AC/DC and Aerosmith and a slew of others including David Lee Roth, Ratt, and the abominable Britny Fox. Kix were on top of the world -- if only momentarily. Much larger problems were looming on the horizon. The old adage of "more money, more problems" had materialized itself as a stone around Kix' collective necks for years and years. The band's financial matters were now in a state of complete disarray. Now severely indebted to Atlantic, the band faced a painful wake up call when they realized that they hadn't made a penny off Blow My Fuse. To make matters even worse, the label had plans to shift Kix from their roster to the label's new imprint EastWest Records America. This proved to be disastrous move for the quintet as they now had to deal with a new regime to work their yet-to-be released fifth record. By the time Hot Wire finally hit record stores, the musical climate in 1991 had shifted dramatically. Quote-unquote "hair bands" were now a thing of the past. Grunge was all the rage, making a band like Kix look like the laughing stock of the day. The new trend made it virtually impossible for Kix to garner the radio support necessary for them to prosper commercially.
In hindsight, Hot Wire may have proved to be the band's best sounding record ever. Bolstered by a little MTV airplay, the album's first single "Girl Money" showcased everything that made Kix a first-rate bar band. With double-entendre verses in the vein of classic Bon Scott-era AC/DC, great musicianship, and with a hearty sense of humor to boot, the track would have probably been huge in 1989. Selling just under 200,000 units, the album came and went and Kix returned to doing what it had done all along -- hitting the road. The band then toured the Orient and recorded a live record in Japan in 1992. It would be released by Atlantic in 1993 under the uninventive moniker, Kix Live. The 12-track live album would finally fulfill the band's contractual obligation to the label. By the time Kix Live was released, founding member and guitarist Brain Forsythe had quit the band returning to the fold in 1994 in time to record Show Business, the band's ill-fated debut on CMC. Released in 1995, Show Business tanked and the band was history. After a three-year hiatus away from the music biz, Steve Whiteman re-merged in Baltimore as the singer for Funny Money. Forming its own label, Kivel Records, Funny Money released a self-titled debut in 1998 and a sophomore follow-up, Back Again, in 1999. With a personal rift between Kix bassist and chief songwriter Donnie Purnell still in full-effect, chances of a Kix reunion look like a forgone conclusion. However, as rock history has taught us, never say never. ~ John Franck, Rovi