In January, the second annual Cliff Jackson Memorial Show at Lincoln Theatre scored a one-off reunion by regional metal band Maxx Warrior as the headliner. On Saturday, just 11 months later, promoter Marty Burns’ tribute to a friend continues to grow, giving its top slot to the long-running Maryland hard-rockers Kix.
The band formed in 1977 as a trio called The Shooze, and spent the next few years trying various lineups and a new name (The Generators) before solidifying as Kix. The quintet that emerged built a fan base in local bars, and in 1981, released Kix’s self-titled debut on Atlantic Records. The band’s mix of pop smarts and hard-rock sneer, delivered in songs full of AC/DC innuendo, fit comfortably into the hair-band heyday. Their 1988 platinum-selling album, Blow My Fuse, proved to be the band’s commercial peak, hitting No. 48 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart. They notched a hit with the power ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes.”
Despite some success, Kix never achieved the level of fame reached by peers Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard or, most notably, Poison. To their fans, it’s one of rock’s great injustices, an Anvil-like tale of under-appreciation. “It's been constantly rumored that PA hicks, Poison, nicked every stage move they ever shimmied from the mighty Kix,” wrote Sleazegrinder.com’s Adam T.
In a 2002 interview with MetalSludge.tv, frontman SteveWhiteman addressed the allegations of Poison’s plagiarism. “Yes, they did [steal Kix’s act],” he said. “Though I won't give them any credit for being a talented band at the time, I will say that they busted their balls to get where they got. Think about it: Poison, a Kix song; the color green for the logo, it's the Kix color.”
Whether they were victims of theft, or just bad luck, Kix soldiered on through 1995, when they took a hiatus that would last nine years. In September, Kix released the career-spanning double-disc Live In Baltimore. The band promises an album of new material next year with its current and near-original lineup.
Saturday’s Lincoln Theatre showcase—which also features the veteran cover bands Lexx Luthor and Metal Shop—sounds, undeniably, like a retro throwback. But for Kix, hindsight is better, anyway.