July 10, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Greg Kihn emerged on the San Francisco music scene during the mid '70s, following a move to the Bay Area from his hometown. Immediately adopting a simple, straight-ahead mainstream rock approach, Kihn formed a namesake band that began to build a reputation slowly for melodic rock that eschewed the unnecessarily complex approach favored by much contemporary mid-'70s rock. Kihn didn't particularly bend his sound in the wake of punk rock
but nevertheless enjoyed some success during the new wave
era as an energetic pop/rock artist. Some '80s hits and healthy moderate stardom ensued.
Kihn grew up on '60s rock and parlayed its melodic sensibility and eclectic energy into a no-nonsense, blue-collar approach to pop music. He landed in the Bay Area of California at an opportune time, becoming an early artist signed to influential Beserkley Records. Along with labelmates like Jonathan Richman and The Rubinoos, Kihn cultivated a touch of an outsiders' attitude toward rock music, concerning himself scarcely at all with the music trends of the time. Throughout the remainder of the '70s, this approach remained consistent, and a tireless touring ethic helped slowly but surely build a strong cult following.
'80s Hitmaking Years:
Despite a remarkably consistent pace of releasing studio albums, it took Kihn some time to gain a foothold on the pop charts. In fact, his first single entry on the Billboard charts was "The Girl Most Likely," a track from 1981's Rockihnroll
. However, stardom didn't arrive until the '80s classic "The Breakup Song (They Don't Write 'Em)"
peaked at No. 15 that same year. By 1983, Kihn moved beyond the dreaded one-hit wonder
tag by producing another pop classic in the guitar-driven but danceable "Jeopardy."
This was a respectable peak even if no other major accomplishments would dot the music landscape of the decade.
Later Career & Branching Out:
Excuse the pun, but Kihn continued to release albums up through 1986, ultimately finishing off a stretch of 12 consecutive years of one album per year since 1975. Aside from his final Top 40 pop hit in 1985, ironically called "Lucky,"
Kihn enjoyed a rapidly wilting fortune on the charts. Even so, his musical efforts continued to be based in his own songwriting seasoned with occasional well-selected covers. Failure to release another record until 1992's Kihn of Hearts
certainly did nothing to prevent a fade into pop music obscurity, but Kihn harbored other talents up his sleeve.
Renaissance Man - Radio & Novels:
Instead of lingering on his past '80s rock successes, Kihn simply maneuvered into other show-business careers. Since 1996, for example, he has served as the morning deejay for a San Jose radio station, somehow finding time in between to compose four horror novels. In the ensuing years, '80s music fans have continued to appreciate Kihn's workmanlike musical output, and a closer look reveals that this artist was also one of the finest mainstream rockers of the period.