KIX was founded in 1978 in Hagerstown, Maryland as The Shooze, then changed its name to The Generators before eventually settling on KIX. They were considered one of Maryland’s top cover bands prior to their signing with Atlantic Records in 1981. Though often lumped in with bands that many consider to be glam metal or hair metal, the bands popmetal stylings on the first KIX record drew inspiration from bubblegum pop and new wave as well as hard rock.
In 1981, they debuted with a self-titled album “KIX,” featuring “Atomic Bombs,” “Heartache,” “Contrary Mary”,”The Itch,” “The Kid.” “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” 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 (i.e., “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 Whiteman. With this album, the tongue-in-cheek rock & roll style of KIX was established.
Their 1983 follow-up, “Cool Kids” showcased a slightly more commercial side of the band featuring the title song and the single “Body Talk.” Somewhat overlooked but a favorite with female fans was the ballad “For Shame.” “Cool Kids” later was lampooned in good spirit on the popular MTV show “Beavis and Butthead.”
KIX then partnered up with Ratt and future Warrant producer Beau Hill and, in 1985, released the hard rock power house album “Midnite Dynamite,” featuring a hard rock single by the same name and the funkier rock songs “Cold Shower” and “Sex.” The music video for “Cold Shower” quickly gained popularity and was put into regular rotation on MTV. The band headed west to continue to make a name for themselves in such places as the Sunset Strip, where Mötley Crüe and other glam metal bands rose to stardom. KIX was quickly becoming a formidable live band like no other.
KIX went back to the studio to write more 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 and other popular cuts followed. The album featured popular singles “Cold Blood” and “Blow My Fuse” with popular MTV videos showing the band in concert at the now legendary Hammerjack’s Concert Hall, and as a result Whiteman and Forsythe were asked to host a memorable edition of the popular MTV show Headbanger’s Ball. In 1989, the band released “KIX, Blow My Fuse, the Videos” with their now popular music videos and behind-the-scenes footage. As KIX finally graduated to arenas, they regularly opened for such popular artists as Aerosmith and KISS and were on successful tours with Whitesnake, Ratt and Tesla.
The album “Hot Wire” finally arrived in 1991 with the single, “Girl Money”. While on tour in 1992, they made a live album, titled “KIX Live” recorded at the University of Maryland, College Park. This album was released in 1993 largely as a contractual obligation to Atlantic Records. With the arrival of the Seattle grunge scene, as Whiteman so often says “they were having a party and KIX was no longer elcome…” in 1995, the band released their final album “Show Business,” on CMC records. KIX broke up in 1995, and Hammerjack’s Concert Hall was torn down in June 1996 to make way for a parking lot for the Baltimore Ravens’ stadium.