When you think of 80’s metal or hard rock, one always thinks of a seedy L.A. Bar with leather clad ripped tshirt long haired guys and girls banging their heads to a heavy beat and a ROCKIN guitar solo. Not everybody went to California and got that overnight fame. KIX, is one of those such bands. Hard WORKIN dedicated to the art of their music,a dedicated fan base ,yet they are still one of the few unappreciated groups that eloped shape the 80’s metal front.
The mid to late 80’s saw a surge in hard rocking ballads, or power ballads. These were songs that if you said you liked, nobody called you out for it. And for the guys, these were the songs that got them the girl. KIX released a song that would send them to the heap of the power ballad mountain. 1989, the guys released the hit”Don’t Close Your Eyes”, a personal song for myself then and still today. It was for me then a song that helped me to believe that my future, my life would get better, just believe and hold on.
I was a picked on a lot. Mainly for my looks and the fact that I really wasn’t like everyone else just added fuel to the fire. I went to a predominately black school, no problem. The problem was I listened to OZZY Osbourne, Crüe, KIX, Metallica you get the picture. I wasn’t into rap music. I was teased for this, called everything you could think of. My parents thought I was on drugs because I spent a lot on posters, tshirts, tapes,etc. My wallpaper was courtesy of Guitar, Hit Parade, Circus, Metal Edge, whatever was metal, I had it and it was on my walls…from the ceiling to the bed frame. If it was printed, I had it. My parents didn’t understand.
I was dealing with a lot for that time. I watched my family crumble, lost my uncle, god mother and had basically lost all contact with my mother. For the average teen, that’s rough. Even for most adults it’s too much to handle. I had things going on, that my friends didn’t understand. Besides, to me I saw a happy family, something that then I wished I had.
The song dealt with suicide. A subject that at the time was taboo. Many rockers were facing lawsuits or charges of being pro suicide, even going as suggesting some groups were using subliminal messages or even devil worship. The lyrics are heartfelt. They ring true to that of a friend concerned about another friend, wondering what can be so bad. Steve Whitman puts all his heart into this song. Whitman has always had a raspy like voice, but on this song, you can hear he’s been through this before. His plea for his friend to stop and think of how beautiful life can be and giving up on life is just the worst thing you could do. The piano and guitar mix do the song in the right direction as the drums steer the song.
Move forward to 2010. My son had just gotten in trouble with the law. My daughter and I were fighting to the point we couldn’t even be in the same room. I fought with my boyfriend daily. I was feeling worthless. It was in the mist of one of our daily hourly fights and I had decided that I had enough. I was going to make sure all of this stopped…TODAY! I got into my car and sped off.
I stopped at a red light, the radio blasting, and ‘Dont Close Your Eyes’ started playing. Stopped at the light, tears streaming down my face I see a rat(yes a rat). This little guy was trying his hardest to get across the road, with full on traffic. With the chorus playing and Whitman singing his plea for you to hold on, I felt like that rat. I knew I couldn’t give up on life and that I had to push back when life pushed at me! I had to fight. Guess you could say KIX saved my life.
There’s no telling how many people listened to this song and felt that low, but realized that suicide was not the way to go. KIX went on to release more songs, none reached the sensation status of ‘Don’t’ but to their die hard fans that didn’t matter. The guys went on to become the toast and the pride of Philly. They still pack the crowds in with their live shows and they continue to collect new fans along the way.
I’m still here, alive and kicking. I’m at peace now. I’ve made a point to not try and worry about the things I can’t fix, but I worry about the things I can. My kids lives are just that – their lives. They are old enough to know right from wrong and make their own choices. If they make the wrong choice, they must deal with the outcome. I still listen to the song when I’m down, I think about that little rat and I hope he completed his journey to where ever he was trying to go. People ask me why I listen to metal, hard rock music. I simply tell them that if it wasn’t for metal / hard rock music I wouldn’t be here today. Metal saved my LIFE!!!!!!