Success was a long road for Greg Kihn. Seven years of faithful touring across the US and patiently releasing album after album finally paid off when Rockihnroll (1981) – his sixth LP – yielded a Top 15 hit with The Breakup Song, a haunting rocker with maddeningly catchy “ah-ah-ah”‘s.
Nearly a decade earlier a green Greg Kihn left his native Baltimore and headed west. He ended up in Berkeley, California, at the behest of one Matthew King Kaufman (who would soon become the guiding force of the indie Beserkley label).
Kihn sang on the streets for spare change then worked as a coffeehouse duo with bassist Steve Wright before assembling the rest of the Greg Kihn Band, courtesy of Dave Carpender (guitar) and Larry Lynch (drums). The lineup remained unchanged through six albums.
Keyboard player Gary Phillips from San Francisco’s Earthquake was added later.
The band became house regulars on Sunday nights at Berkeley’s Longbranch club in 1975, which kept them in t-shirts and burgers for a long time. Their contagious pop-flavoured original songs eventually found them opening for bands at the Winterland hall.
Kihn’s association with Beserkley Records propelled him (along with labelmates Jonathan Richman, The Rubinoos and Earthquake) into cult status, primarily via Chartbusters, an innovative 1975 compilation album.