1981 Greg Kihn Band – The Break-Up Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em)
Greg Kihn grew up in Baltimore and began writing songs and playing in coffeehouses while still a teenager. His mother submitted a tape of one of his songs to a local radio station talent contest when Greg was only 17 and he won a typewriter. Oh, and also a stack of records and a guitar.
Greg moved to San Francisco when he turned 23. He got a job at a record store where he met keyboard player Gary Phillips.
Beserkley Records singed Greg in 1973 and he recorded a song for the label’s compilation album, Beserkley Chartbusters Volume 1. He formed The Greg Kihn Band by recruiting bass player and future co-writer Steve Wright, guitarist Robbie Dunbar, and drummer Larry Lynch. It took until 1976 for the band to record and release an album, after which they released an album each year for the next decade.
In 1981, Gary joined the band and it became a quintet. They released an album with a title that included the word “Kihn” as something other than Greg’s name: Rockihnroll. Nearly a dozen albums from the group have included a similar pun. More important was the first single from the album, The Break-Up Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em). For the first time, the group had a record reach the Hot 100. The single peaked at #15 on the Hot 100 in 1981 and also reached #5 on the US Mainstream Rock chart. The record came out a little over two months before the launch of MTV, otherwise, the video for the record might have helped it do even better.
While a few more of the group’s singles reached the US Mainstream Rock top forty, it was 1983 before the group released a single that again charted that well on the Hot 100. The album Kihnspiracy yielded the single Jeopardy. That time, the video did get a lot of airplay on MTV, and the single reached #2 on the Hot 100. The single was notable for also being parodied by Weird Al in 1984. Al changed the line, “Our love’s in jeopardy,” to “I lost on Jeopardy,” and created a video that even included voiceovers from Jeopardy’s announcer, Don Pardo. Jeopardy’s host (Art Fleming), Dr. Demento, and even Greg also had cameos in the video (although Greg’s came right at the end of the video).
After that, the group again struggled to do well on the pop charts. Their last hit came in 1985 when the single Lucky (from the album Citizen Kihn) reached #30 on the Hot 100 and only #24 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.
The group’s lineup changed a few times but remained constant after 1996. The group continued to release albums as recently as 2017 and continues to appear in concert.
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