RONNIE YOUNKINS Confirms He Will Perform With KIX At Final Concert: 'I'm Really Grateful'
May 20, 2023
KIX guitarist Ronnie Younkins spoke to Tulsa Music Stream about the band's recent announcement that it will play its final show on September 17 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.
"Well, it's kind of bittersweet, but I think it's been coming for a little while," he said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "After talking with a couple of members about a year ago, particularly one member was really wanting to stop traveling. And then, with Jimmy's [Chalfant], the drummer's health condition, and most people know that he's had some heart problems, cardiovascular. I think topped off with that, it's time for the final show to come. And it's sad, but we don't wanna see Jimmy get any worse with his health. He's a strong guy. He's always been a very proficient drummer, businessman, person, and he always gets the job done. It's unfortunate. But I heard he played some songs on the Monsters Of Rock cruise. I think he played at Merriweather recently. So God bless him. And I'm glad he's out playing again. I knew he would."
Younkins, who has been unable to tour with KIX for the past couple of years after repeatedly getting in trouble with the police due to his battle with alcoholism, was also asked if he will part of the band's final show (Ronnie is being replaced in KIX by Bob Paré). He responded: "I'm grateful to say that I am. I heard it through the grapevine, like, two weeks ago when there was talk of the last show. I heard it from a couple of friends. And then Bob, the guitarist who took my place, he texted me two weeks ago on a Sunday, and he wanted me to call him. So I did on the Tuesday. I was really busy on Monday of last week. So I spoke with him on Tuesday morning at 10 o'clock. And while I was talking with him, before I even had heard from anyone in the band, the tickets went on sale for the Merriweather for the last show, and they announced that I'd be playing some songs. So I'm really grateful. Bob just filled me in on everything, said, 'I'll have the guys call you.' And I spoke with Steve [Whiteman, KIX singer] last Monday or Tuesday, and I talked with Brian [Forsythe, KIX guitarist]. I wanna call Jimmy and call Mark [Schenker, KIX bassist], just to say 'hey' and get a mindset instead of just walking in and say, 'Hey, where do I plug in?' [Laughs]"
He continued: "We've all kind of texted through the last couple of years: 'Hey, happy birthday,' 'Merry Christmas', that kind of thing. I talked to a couple of 'em throughout. And Bob has always texted me, and I talked to him a few times. I talked with him yesterday. And since Brian lives in Nashville, I'm gonna go to Bob's house, 'cause he lives pretty close to me, and go over the songs. All three of us will be playing guitar, so it will be like 'LYNYRD KIX', with three guitars. So Bob and I will work the parts out; we'll work 'em out. We'll come up with something cool."
Earlier this month, Whiteman told Metal Edge about KIX's decision to call it quits: "It might seem sudden, but this is a decision that I made around a year ago. I gave it a lot of thought, decided, and announced it to the guys in the band and our booking agents. I knew at that point that I was probably going to be done by the of 2023. It's been 45 years of nonstop rock 'n' roll, travel, and hanging out, and I don't have the time to commit to it anymore. I'm 66. I've got neuropathy in my feet. I'm tired."
Asked if Chalfant's recent health scare — he collapsed onstage seven months ago after suffering a cardiac arrest — expedited the process for him, Steve said: "For sure. When Jimmy collapsed in November, that put a whole new perspective on things. It was the sort of thing that got me thinking, 'How much longer do we want to do this?' And if I'm being honest, I was ready to give up and go home then and there. But everybody rallied and pushed me to keep going and finish the dates we had booked. That's when we decided to go until this coming September. We knew we had these summer days, and Jimmy — once he felt good enough to get onstage — put his foot down and said, 'September is it for me.'"
On the topic of whether Younkins will be part of the final show, Steve said: "Bob is definitely going to be part of the show. The hope is that Ronnie will be there as a guest player. We're hoping and assuming he'll come up and do a couple of songs with us. We hope he does because it would be amazing for our fans. I also think we'll call up Brad Divens, who played on the 'Cool Kids' album."
For its recent live appearances, including the Monsters Of Rock cruise, KIX had been using drummer Matt Starr, who has previously played with Ace Frehley, MR. BIG and BLACK SWAN, among others. Asked if Jimmy's heart is healthy enough to wrap this up, or if Starr will remain on standby, Whiteman said: "Matt's on standby, but Jimmy feels pretty confident he can do this. He was on the recent cruise with us and came up and did a few songs at the end of the set. He feels great, has been practicing at home, and is ready to do these final summer shows we've planned. We love Matt, but having Jimmy is so important to us. But the thing with that is Jimmy will not be able to do background vocals. He feels that if he plays drums and sings simultaneously, his heart rate increases to a point that makes him nervous. So, we'll miss that a lot, but we'll get Bob to sing more."
The Baltimore-based act, which formed in 1977, announced its plan to call it quits during an appearance on May 7 at the M3 Rock Festival at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.
Chalfant rejoined his KIX bandmates on stage for two songs — "Cold Blood" and "Blow My Fuse" — during the band's set on April 30 aboard this year's Monsters Of Rock cruise. It marked his first live appearance with KIX since he collapsed onstage. Chalfant also performed with KIX at the M3 Rock Festival.
On November 18, 2022, Chalfant suffered a cardiac arrest during KIX's concert at the Tally Ho Theater in Leesburg, Virginia. Chalfant was unconscious and carried offstage before performing the last song of the show.
Paré is 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.
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.
KIX was founded in 1977 and released its first, self-titled album on Atlantic Records more than 40 years ago. Their breakthrough came with 1988's "Blow My Fuse", which sold nearly a million copies, thanks to "Don't Close Your Eyes". The band continued to ride the hard-rock wave until 1995, when KIX took a hiatus. Nearly 10 years later, KIX reunited and started touring regionally. A 2008 performance at the Rocklahoma festival led to more gigs and the release of a live DVD/CD called "Live In Baltimore" in 2012. In 2014, KIX released its seventh full-length album, "Rock Your Face Off", the band's first studio effort since 1995's "Show Business". The album debuted at No. 1 on Amazon's Hard Rock and Metal chart, in the Top 50 on the Billboard 200 chart, No. 5 on the Independent Albums chart, No. 11 on the Top Internet chart, No. 17 on the Top Rock Albums chart, No. 27 on the Indie/Small Chain Core Stores chart and No. 33 on the Physical chart.
KIX released "Can't Stop The Show: The Return Of KIX" in October 2016, a two-disc DVD/CD set that entered the Billboard Top Music Video Sales chart at No. 3 and rose to the No. 1 position, the band's highest-charting debut and first No. 1 ever in their 35-year history. The 71-minute film offered an in-depth look into KIX's decision to record their first new album, in almost 20 years.
In 2018, KIX celebrated the 30th anniversary of their biggest album, "Blow My Fuse", with "Blow My Fuse Re-Blown", a two-disc set with a remixed/remastered version of the album, along with the original demo recordings for all 10 songs. The reunion with longtime collaborator Beau Hill for this remix sparked the initiative to revisit "Midnite Dynamite" and take a similar approach to updating KIX's legacy.
On the 35th anniversary of the release of "Midnite Dynamite", KIX released "Midnite Dynamite Re-Lit" in November 2020. For "Midnite Dynamite Re-Lit", KIX partnered with Hill for a blistering update of the fan-favorite album.
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