Besides Black Flag's Greg Ginn, the Meat Puppets' Curt Kirkwood was one of the top guitarists to emerge from the '80s U.S. punk rock movement. But in truth, Kirkwood's playing and writing have little to do with punk (besides being full of punk's energy and unpredictability) -- he's always listed such classic rockers as ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons and the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia as his biggest guitar influences, while his singing and songwriting contains elements of such country legends as George Jones. Born January 10, 1959 and raised in Phoenix, AZ, Kirkwood formed the Meat Puppets in the early '80s along with bass-playing brother Cris and drummer Derrick Bostrom, releasing a string of classic albums on Black Flag's SST label.
Whereas most punk bands frowned upon guitar solos, most of the Meat Puppets' songs spotlighted Kirkwood's six-string talents, especially such tracks as "Enchanted Porkfist," "Magic Toy Missing," "Flight of the Fire Weasel," and the 1994 version of "Lake of Fire" (the latter included as an unlisted bonus track on Too High to Die). In addition to his music, Curt's other love is painting -- many of his drawings have graced the Puppets' album covers (Meat Puppets II, Up on the Sun, Mirage, etc.), and he supplied the album cover art for the 1996 debut by friend's Dez Cadena and George Hurley's band, Vida.
The Meat Puppets' music and Curt Kirkwood's exceptional guitar skills were confined to the underground for most of the '80s and the first half of the '90s, until a whole new generation of fans were turned on to the trio through their association with Nirvana's Kurt Cobain. Cobain was a longtime fan of the band, and invited the Kirkwood brothers to play three tracks from their classic 1984 release, Meat Puppets II, for Nirvana's MTV unplugged session, which aired in 1994. Due to all of the new exposure, the trio enjoyed their biggest commercial success with their eighth full-length album, Too High to Die, which reached gold certification on the strength of their radio hit "Backwater." With brother Cris suffering from addiction by the late '90s, Curt Kirkwood formed a new version of the Meat Puppets (also sans drummer Bostrom), gearing up for the new lineup's first release in 2000. After repairing to Austin, TX and recruiting members of Pariah, Kirkwood issued Golden Lies. And though a live album followed, little more was heard from the Meat Puppets camp until 2005, when Kirkwood returned with the solo effort Snow. ~ Greg Prato