Greg Kihn

Greg Kihn Best of BeserkleyGreg Kihn began his career in his hometown of Baltimore, MD, working in the singer/songwriter mold, but switched to straightforward rock & roll when he moved to San Francisco in 1972.

He started writing songs and playing coffee houses while still in high school in the Baltimore area. At the age of seventeen his mother submitted a tape of one of his original songs to the talent contest of the big local Top 40 radio station WCAO, in which he took first prize and won three things that would change his life: a typewriter, a stack of records, and a Vox electric guitar.

He moved to California in 1972 and worked painting houses, singing in the streets, and working behind the counter at Berkeley record store Rather Ripped Records with future band mate and Earthquake guitarist Gary Phillips.

The following year, he became one of the first artists signed to Matthew Kaufman’s now-legendary Beserkley Records. Along with Jonathan Richman, Earthquake, and the Rubinoos, Kihn helped to carve the label’s sound — melodic pop with a strong ’60s pop sensibility — a refreshing alternative to the bloated prog rock of the time.

In 1976, after his debut on the compilation Beserkley Chartbusters, he recorded his first album with his own band, called The Greg Kihn Band, consisting of Ronnie Dunbar (guitar), Steve Wright (bass), and Larry Lynch (drums).

Robbie Dunbar, already a member of Earthquake, was replaced by Dave Carpender in time to record their second album “Greg Kihn Again.” The lineup of Kihn, Wright, Lynch, and Carpender lasted until 1983, when Greg Douglas replaced Dave Carpender and Gary Phillips was added on keyboards.

Through the ’70s, Kihn released an album each year and built a strong cult following through constant touring, becoming Beserkley’s biggest seller. In 1981, Kihn earned his first bona fide hit with the Top 20 single, “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em),” from the Rockihnroll album.

Kihn continued in a more commercial vein through the ’80s with a series of pun-titled albums: Kihntinued (1982), Kihnspiracy (1983), Kihntageous (1984), and Citizen Kihn (1985).

He scored his biggest hit with 1983’s “Jeopardy” (number two) from the Kihnspiracy album. “Jeopardy” was spoofed by “Weird Al” Yankovic as “I Lost on Jeopardy” on Yankovic’s album Weird Al Yankovic in 3-D; Greg Kihn made a cameo appearance in the music video for that song.

In 1983, the groundbreaking “Jeopardy” video became an MTV favorite. Many of the videos that followed were sequels with connecting story lines. One of the earliest examples of a “concept” video with its “Night Of The Living Dead” theme, “Jeopardy” received heavy airplay on the fledgling cable music channel and spawned countless imitators.

Kihn spent most of the 80’s touring constantly, opening arena-sized shows for groups like Journey, the Grateful Dead, and the Rolling Stones. Kihn often appeared on TV during this period on shows like “Solid Gold,” “American Bandstand,” and “Saturday Night Live.”

In 1985, Kihn broke with Beserkley Records and signed with EMI. Matthew Kaufman continued to produce Kihn’s albums. 1985’s “Lucky,” broke the top twenty and spawned a splashy video sequel to the popular “Jeopardy” video.

In 1986 Joe Satriani replaced Greg Douglas on lead guitar, Tyler Eng replaced Larry Lynch on drums, and Pat Mosca replaced Gary Phillips on keyboards. This is the lineup that went into the studio to record the 1986 album “Love and Rock & Roll.”

Joe Satriani left the band to pursue his solo career in 1987 and was replaced by former Eddie Money lead guitarist Jimmy Lyon.

Greg returned to Baltimore to record a pair of solo acoustic albums at the studios of his long time friend Jack Heyrman for Clean Cuts Records, “Mutiny” in 1994 and “Horror Show in 1996.

Kihn began his radio career in 1996 when he went on the air from 7:00pm to midnight for San Jose Classic Rock station KFOX FM 98.5. A year later he was offered the morning show job when the syndicated “Don Imus Show” was dropped from the station. Kihn has remained the morning show host ever since. KFOX, which started out as a little mom and pop FM station in San Jose, went through a series of ownership changes and is now a San Francisco super station boasting two signals – 98.5 in San Jose, and 102.1 in San Francisco. Greg’s top-rated KFOX morning show is heard by millions of people every week from Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz, the fourth largest market in the United States.

Greg’s literary career began in 1996 with the release of his first novel “Horror Show” published by Tor/Forge Books. “Horror Show” was nominated for the prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. It was followed by “Shade of Pale” in 1997, “Big Rock Beat” in 1998, and “Mojo Hand” in 1999. Kihn also published many short stories during this period, some appearing in the “Hot Blood” series of erotic horror fiction. Kihn was contributing editor to “Carved In Rock,” a compilation of short fiction by musicians including Pete Townsend, Joan Jett, Ray Davies, and Kinky Friedman.

Kihn has also written two screenplays and is currently negotiating with several production companies and Hollywood directors for both a TV series and a feature film.

The Greg Kihn Band continues to play with a lineup consisting of Greg’s son Ry Kihn on lead guitar, Dave Danza (from Eddie Money) on drums, Dave Medd (from the Tubes) on keyboards, and Robert Berry (from Hush) on bass.

Every year KFOX hosts a big concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. California called the “Kihncert” featuring the Greg Kihn band playing alongside many of the greatest Classic Rock bands ever.

The Kihncert has always featured Greg Kihn as the show opener and sometime emcee, along with other KFOX FM air personalities. Through the years, the Kihncert has featured live concert appearances by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jefferson Starship, Eddie Money, Boston, Paul Rodgers of Bad Company, The Who, Steve Miller Band, George Thorogood, John Waite, Pat Travers, Night Ranger, Mickey Thomas’ Starship, Styx, REO Speedwagon, .38 Special, Blue Oyster Cult, Yes, and Kansas.

In addition to the Kihncert, Greg Kihn performs private, public, charity and KFOX FM-sponsored and/or promoted events, such as San Jose’s popular ‘Concert in the Park’ series, he has frequently sung the National Anthem for his favorite baseball team, the Giants, at AT&T Park in San Francisco and his favorite hockey team, The San Jose Sharks, the BR Cohn Charity Fall Music Festival, Operation: Care and Comfort’s Troopfest, and on May 19, 2012 he performed at the legendary Catalyst Club.

Kihn spends his extra time doing charity work, mostly for “Operation Care and Comfort” a military support group responsible for care packages for hundreds of units deployed in harm’s way around the world. Greg Kihn was nominated for the 2010 “Man of the Year Award” by the Lymphoma Society and also does work for Children’s Hospital in Oakland in the never ending fight against cancer.

Kihn is managed by original Beserkley partner Joel Turtle and the two men have remained best friends and business partners since the early 1970’s.

Greg Kihn was inducted into the San Jose Rock Hall of Fame in 2007.