NBC has described Greg Kihn as Rock’s True Renaissance Man” and I could not agree more. With a career that spans the dawn of punk and Indie rock, to the disco of the 70’s, to the glory days of MTV, you may know him best for his worldwide #1 hits “Jeopardy” and “The Break-up Song”, and for those of you local to the SF Bay Area, you likely tuned in to DJ Greg every morning on KFOX Radio during his 18 years with the station. He’s also a published author of four novels, the most recent being Painted Black, a mystery/thriller about the death of Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.
I interviewed Greg recently on All Access Radio to discuss his career, his life philosophy and what he’s up to these days. I’ve been a colleague, collaborator and supporter of Greg’s for many years so it was great to have him in the hot seat for a change to catch up, and to be able to share with you insights from someone I think is one of the greatest success stories in music — a true renaissance artist.
One of my favorite moments during the interview was when Greg shared a story from his childhood that would set the stage, literally, for his career in the years to come. Back when he was 16 years old he took a small reel-to-real tape recorder into his bathroom and recorded a song. The bathroom was the ideal recording studio as he wanted to capture some echo to enhance the sound. Without telling him, his mom entered him into a local talent contest in Baltimore using the tape recording – and he won! Part of his winnings included a guitar, a stack of records, and a typewriter — which became his tool kit to become the musician, radio personality and author he is today. Coincidence? I think not.
Greg also shared his life philosophy – “It’s all in how you view the word ’work‘… make sure you have fun, and create art.” I really resonate with this – as you know I am a true believer in finding your passion and doing what you love, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. I think one of the reasons for Greg’s success is that he is not afraid to fail, or in his words “he’s too “stupid” to know he can fail”, but I prefer to believe he has the courage and tenacity it takes to follow his dreams and make them real – in his own words: “I don’t have to know how to do it in order to start.” He simply starts with the idea and figures out the “how” as he goes along. This is how many dreams are born, but it does take some courage and faith.
The other point he made that absolutely resonates with me is this: “creative people are like sharks – they must always keep moving forward to survive; as a shark must keep swimming in order to keep water flowing through its gills to breath; so must a creative keep moving forward to produce art.”
The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing but just like sharks and creatives, we all must keep moving forward at all times if we are to live our lives in a meaningful way. And sometimes we just have to move forward even if we don’t know what lies ahead.
Greg and I discussed so much more than I can cover in one blog post, including his recent book, Painted Black, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, his radio career, the rights to his recordings, what he does when he hears his songs on the radio, and some pretty exciting stuff that he’s up to in 2017. Be sure to listen to the entire interview here: http://allaccessgroup.com/radio/renaissance-man-greg-kihn/#more-8992