RONNIE YOUNKINS On Rejoining KIX On Stage For Final Concert: 'It's Gonna Be Heartwarming'
September 13, 2023
KIX guitarist Ronnie Younkins has confirmed to Artists On Record Starring ADIKA Live! that he will rejoin his longtime bandmates when they play their final show on Sunday, September 17 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.
"I'm very grateful to have been asked to join the band for some songs, and I'm very excited about it," Ronnie said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "What can I say? It's gonna be heartwarming. It's bittersweet; it's gonna be bittersweet."
Younkins, who has been sitting out KIX's live shows for nearly three years, with Bob Paré filling his spot, continued: "And then Bob's coming out to play. I thought Bob was gonna play on the first two songs with me, but he's not. Then he's coming out, playing the rest of the set, and then we'll be playing together on the last four songs that I play."
Ronnie went on to say that he has been going over all the songs with Bob in recent weeks. "[Bob] and I get along really well and he's a great guy and great guitar player," he said. "And he's a very interesting person. And he lets me blast in his warehouse. I mean, it is loud. I love it. It's louder than I can play in the band. I wouldn't play that loud 'cause I need to hear drums while I have in-ears, but it's loud. These Marshalls — he's got tons of Marshalls. It's just like Marshall fest."
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, previously discussed the band's impending retirement this past May in an interview with Tulsa Music Stream. He said at the time: "Well, it's kind of bittersweet, but I think it's been coming for a little while. 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."
During an appearance on the August 29 episode of SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk", KIX vocalist Steve Whiteman opened up about the band's announcement that it would retire after more than 45 years. Speaking about his decision to call it quits, he said: "Well, if ever the world was shouting at a band to get the hell out, it's us. I announced last year to the band and to our agent that at the end of 2023, I was done, that my wife was retiring. I've been doing this since I was, like, 13 years old, and I'm sick of all the travel and all the B.S. and the only thing I really enjoy is getting on stage. And to be honest, I'm not as good as I used to be, and I know that, and I don't wanna go out sucking; I wanna go out being pretty good. But age takes its toll. And all the things that happened to Jimmy — Jimmy with a heart attack, and then when he just collapsed in Leesburg, Virginia and literally died on stage. And thank God for [KIX bassist] Mark [Schenker] and [guitar tech] Brandon [Dull] who knew how to get him back until the EMTs got there. But I could have stopped right there."
Regarding how he and his KIX bandmates decided to play their last-ever show on September 17 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, Steve said: "Jimmy and his wife discussed it and they'd come up with a date. And we were gonna end at Rocklahoma, because that was our first big festival show that [our booking agent] had booked us at, first time out of our little comfort area that we've been playing for four or five years before that. And we thought it would be cool to — that's where we started and that that's where we'll end. But then [our booking agent] talked us into doing the next week in Hinckley, Minnesota. And we thought it's not very fair to the hometown fans, because I basically wanted to just fade away. I didn't wanna make a big announcement or announce a whore tour or final anything. I just wanted to go away. But the guys talked to me about it and they thought we should do one more big show at home. So, luckily the people at Merriweather were willing to go for it. And we didn't know how it was gonna go, 'cause Merriweather is about a 15,000-seat venue. We thought, well, if we can draw four or five thousand people, that would be great. And I think we're over ten thousand [tickets sold] at this point. It's for the hometown fans and it's a big shebang to say thanks for all the years, for the memories, for the support. And [we] love you guys, but we're tired."
Whiteman also admitted that he is no longer able to deliver KIX's material the way that he was able to earlier in the band's career. "My voice, I used to… I never had a break," he said. "I had a four-octave range and I never struggled hitting anything. I've had to pretty much totally change the way I sing. Luckily, I was a vocal coach, so I knew how to — I don't wanna say 'fake' things, but change things so the fans really wouldn't know that I'm not singing like I used to. And there are nights, out of the past couple of years, where I've come off stage just humiliated because I can't sing 'Don't Close Your Eyes' like I used to, or I can't sing 'Cold Blood', and these are the songs that the fans are out there waiting for. And that's when I started to think I don't wanna do this if I can't do it well anymore."
This past May, Whiteman confirmed to Metal Edge that Chalfant's health scare — he collapsed onstage 11 months ago after suffering a cardiac arrest — expedited his decision to stop playing shows. "For sure," he said. "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.'"
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.
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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