KIX Guitarist RONNIE YOUNKINS Says He's Been Sober Two Years And 45 Days
April 14, 2023
In a new interview with Artists On Record Starring ADIKA Live!, KIX guitarist Ronnie Younkins, who has been unable to tour with the group for the past couple of years after repeatedly getting in trouble with the police due to his battle with alcoholism, was asked if he would return to KIX if he was asked to play again with his bandmates. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Of course I'd go back. I spent my life with those guys. I love those guys. And I miss that. I miss traveling. I mean, I've done some traveling with [Ronnie's other long-running band] THE BLUES VULTURES, but I miss going out and playing. It's a machine; that band's [KIX] a machine. I miss being around them. I miss going on the stage… I love that feeling. And it's in my blood. Absolutely, I would go back and play with them."
Ronnie, who is being replaced in KIX by Bob Paré, an accomplished musician who studied at the Music Institute in Los Angeles and taught music theory and guitar at several institutions, including Western Maryland College and Maryland Institute of Music, went on to say that he hasn't watched any videos of KIX performing without him "because it's too painful."
"When I fell down, Bob was there to step up to bat, and God bless him for doing that, 'cause they needed him," Younkins said. "Because we had 65 shows canceled in the COVID era. And right when those shows were starting to get booked again, I hit a major bottom with alcohol and drugs.
"Even though it was hard on everyone around me, I had to be that broken in order for me to be sitting here with two years and 45 days of continuous, uninterrupted clean time and sobriety," he added. "I had to be that far down, to the point where I didn't know if I'd ever talk to my wife and kids again. I knew I lost my job in the band. And when you're that broken, you turn your life around. I was like a wild horse; I had to be broken down. So it's all about being humble."
Back in February 2022, Ronnie told The Metal Summit that he "was sober and clean for 21 years" before he relapsed after getting high on prescription drugs which he started using to treat his Hepatitis C. "Quite a few other things were going on in my life at that time, and I relapsed," he said. "I went back out to hard drugs, then to alcohol. And for the last 10 years, I would go in to rehab for a month or two, come out and only get… The most I got [was] 71 days [sober] once. But that monkey was on my back pulling at me all the time. 'You can sneak another one. You can sneak another one.' It's always that first one that gets me drunk, high, whatever. It might not be that very first one, but it's gonna happen — it's gonna happen within two weeks, it's gonna happen in two months — it's gonna happen, and it always did. And it usually happened within three months where I ended up in handcuffs and hauled off to jail again."
In January 2022, KIX singer Steve Whiteman told Canada's The Metal Voice that "[Ronnie] was pretty much being supervised in a halfway house for about a year. It got ugly there for a while. And we wanna make that he's got his family life together, his own life together, before bringing him back into this temptation that's just around all the time. So we're all pulling for him. We're in touch with him. It's a waiting game at this point — just to make sure that, unsupervised, he's gonna be able to keep it together.
"I know the fans would love to have him back, and we would love to have him back, but it's gotta make sense for everybody," he continued. "And right now we've got the guy that had come in to help us out to replace Ronnie, Bob Paré, is just doing an amazing job, and I don't wanna rock the boat at this point to take a chance. So it's a wait-and-see game to see how he continues to recover and can he continue with his sobriety and get his life back together."
In November 2021, Whiteman addressed Younkins's condition in an interview with "The Chuck Shute Podcast". He said: "Even when he's set free to go out into the world, like he did before, we still have to make sure that he's gonna be able to stay clean and sober. But right now he seems like he's doing really well. He's following all the rules and he's doing everything he can to get his life back in order."
Steve went on to say that Ronnie was sober for 20 years before relapsing and spiraling back down into addiction.
"He got Hep C, and he had to use intravenous needles to battle the Hep C, before the newer treatment came out," Whiteman said. "And we all think that that just kind of took his mentality back to the days when he was using. I mean, that's speculation, and you'd probably have to ask him that, but it seems like that's when things flipped for him."
Whiteman previously discussed Younkins's battle with addiction in a June 2021 interview with Sonic Perspectives. At the time, he said: "It's been an up-and-down adventure with Ronnie over the past five or six years. Sometimes he doesn't show up to gigs, and Brian Forsythe has to take over and play all the parts. Then he comes back for several months and does really well, only to fall off the wagon or get in trouble with the police. This last time, he got into trouble with the police. We were looking at Bob Paré a couple of years ago when Ronnie was going through a bad stretch, but Ronnie bounced back. When he shows up, he does great, so we didn't make the move back then. This time we were forced to."
Whiteman clarified: "I'm not saying that Ronnie is out of the band. We are just saying [he is not gonna tour with us] until he gets it together [and] his family and these people that are helping him say he is good to go. We are not going to bring him in until he is ready. He has shown in the past he can't be sober on the road. Being out there in a rock and roll band is a very bad environment."
He added: "We have a long history of 40 years together. You want to give him the benefit that he is going to recover and do well. There have been so many times over the last five or six years [when] we didn't know if he was going to make it."
Younkins missed a KIX concert in Pennsylvania in March 2017 when the rest of the group was unable to reach him. He was eventually found "not in great condition and very upset," according to TMZ. A month later, his bandmates revealed that he was "headed to a rehab facility" and promised that his spot in KIX would be "waiting for him" once he was ready to resume playing with the group.
While Younkins was in rehab, he took time out to join his KIX bandmates for a performance in June 2017 at the Sweden Rock Festival.
Drug and alcohol rehab statistics show that the percentage of people who will relapse after rehab and even a period of some recovery ranges from 50% to 90%.
Most people do not manage to quit their addiction with their first attempt. They may try and fail a number of times before they manage to secure lasting sobriety.
For addicts that fall back into drug use, there is no guarantee that they will ever be able to stop again; their relapse may turn out to be a death sentence.
Over time, the life of the addict tends to deteriorate. This means that when people relapse, they may be going back to a life that is even worse than before.
Bob was a session musician for several independent label releases, and has spent most of his long career performing live in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. area with various bands, including FORCER, EVER RISE, PROJECT: EUPHORIA and, most recently, the RUSH tribute band SUN DOGS with KIX bassist Mark Schenker.
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