Kirk was born in Long Beach in beautiful Southern California. His father was an extremely talented “Big Band” musician, and in turn, he was destined early in life to become a musician and performer. His family moved to the Central Valley of California when Kirk was still a baby, and he began taking piano lessons when he was four years old. “Dad bought me an old upright player piano with the guts ripped out and stuck it in the garage so no one would have to listen to me practice. It wasn‘t long before I was performing in recitals around town, and for my friends and family. I loved the attention I received.” The lessons went on for many years, and soon the piano was moved into the house. “By the third grade, I was introduced to band instruments. I started out playing drums, then took up the tuba, and then tinkered with baritone and valve trombone.”
Beginning in Elementary School and on through college, Kirk was involved in every musical activity the schools had to offer; Concert bands, Marching bands, Jazz bands, Dixieland bands, and Stage Bands.
“One of my earliest memories of falling in love with music, was jamming with one of my best friends, Walter, who played the mandolin and guitar”, says Kirk. “We were just pre-teens when we started playing old country standards, and some early rock and roll hits that turned out to be today’s rock and roll classics. We’d stay up late at night just jamming from one song to another, occasionally joined by one of our fathers, who would grab their instrument and just start playing along. My best friend moved away to Oklahoma with his family, and I was left to seek out other musicians who had similar passions to jam with.” Kirk began playing with school mates in garage bands beginning in junior high school and continued on through adulthood. “I haven’t seen my buddy Walter in over 30 years, but I know he continued on musically, and is now a retired music teacher whom still performs with a local orchestra”
(Left) Kirk jamming out on his very first piano in 1951. (Center) Kirk doing a little country on his Elvis Guitar in 1957. (Right) Kirk's High School Graduation Photo in 1969
Kirk, and his “not so laid back” style, began performing as a keyboardist and back up singer in several bands. “When I was in high school, I teamed up with two friends to form a garage band of sorts. It was called the GMC Trio. We started out just messing around in our living rooms, but were soon playing at dances nearly every weekend. The Fireman’s Balls and City Celebrations helped to publicize our existence, and we had so much fun - and made money doing it. We all thought, ‘what a great way to make a living”
Kirk was awarded The John Phillip Souza Award as a senior in high school. This prestigious award is presented to one high school student each year for their outstanding contribution to music. “I knew playing music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
“During college I hooked up with some crazy college buddies that were studying music and a local high school music teacher. We formed a comedy night club act called “Clyde Fuzzwart and the Fantastic Farbsteins”. The name alone was enough to draw a laugh, but the act was hysterical. We did a lot of funny parodies as well as original work, but the quality of the music was not the draw for this act. It was the high energy hilarity in the performance and the audience participation that made our act so successful.” They drew packed rooms every night for many, many years around California and Nevada.” “That was when I began doing characters like Willie Nelson. I learned the raspy nasal quality of my voice was finally good for something.”
In the early 80’s the Fuzzwart group got tired and they all went their separate ways. Kirk played in several different combos before performing in a solo act promoting some of his own songs. Soon he gathered a couple of musician buddies, and spent the next few years as the front man in his own small group performing in night clubs around California and Nevada. “I get asked a lot what I think has been my favorite place to play. Well, over the years, I’ve played in a lot of night clubs, but I think the most fun I’ve ever had was playing at Caesar’s Tahoe in the mid 80’s. . It was an exciting time, and they were very supportive and always rendered a great high-energy enthusiastic quality audience, which I so strongly feed off of. But there are many, many other fantastic places to perform.”
From left to right: Kirk performing as Freddy Fender (1980) and as Willie Nelson (1980), and two 1983 Tour Promotional Photos
Kirk began performing in Salt Lake City at the Tavernacle Social Club’s Dueling Piano Show on their opening night, February 1, 2002. “When I came here I thought, ‘Salt Lake City? You’ve got to be kidding” Kirk adds his “hyper-drive sarcastic high-energy” performance style to the exciting piano shows, and of course, occasionally includes some of his old standard “Willie” tunes, or his more famous “Devil Went Down to Georgia” renditions. “I have fallen in love the dueling piano concept. It’s the perfect audience inter-action and the high-energy pace that I crave.”
With Killer Keyz Home Base in Salt Lake City, the home of the NBA's Utah Jazz, they have on two occasions, been invited to and performed half-time shows in front of over 22,000 wildly engaged guests. It was also televised on ESPN’s sports network. “That’s the largest crowd I’ve ever played in front of, and it was so energizing and invigorating having them yell, scream, and clap through the Devil. Wow, what a high!”
On two consecutive years they have been selected to open for the Beach Boys at the Celebrate America Independance Day Concert at Huntsman Springs in Driggs, ID with an audience of over 20,000. "Meeting and working with Al Jardine was a fantastic opportunity and performing milestone for me, as well as an incredible show. Our job was to get the audience ready - complete success!"
When asked about the future Kirk responds, “Well, I’m not so blonde any more, but I still feel the way I did when I was 12. What better way make a living? Making people laugh, smile and sing along, while all the time laughing , smiling and singing yourself. As long as I have venues and an audience, I’ll keep on playing. I get to meet so many wonderful people and have so much fun doing what I love. Entertaining people. I love this job!”
Constantly touring and performing over 200 shows each year Nationwide has only expanded the field of outrageous fun we can have.
Utah Jazz Half Time Show