I left doing the “Karaoke With Kenny” show at the end of 2014 and have not returned to it as of April 2017. It’s been a very nice break,
I, along with my friend Glenn Lukin, was one of the first karaoke hosts in the entire nation in 1990. in fact, I was even hosting a show called “Starmaker” in 1988, several years before the word “karaoke” was even introduced into the American culture.
As a host, some people don’t quite agree with my “rules” on karaoke. I don’t care if you can sing or not, I truly want you to have fun, but I don’t particularly care for anyone to get up and just start spewing obscenities. it’s not cute, it’s not funny, it makes you look rather unintelligent and it can be offensive to some in my audience. While at times it’s a nervous reaction, sometimes just a show-off thing, I will usually cut your microphone off if you start this. it’s just not necessary. I also have to protect the equipment, so if you throw a microphone or scream at the top of your lungs into the sensitive microphone…you might not sing again and depending on the damage, you might be looking at a couple of hundred bucks for replacement costs. Karaoke, like anything else worthwhile in life, just needs you to show a little respect to your fellow humans 😉 that’s all.
My “History” With Karaoke
this is an interesting story that really never gets told…
in the late 80’I’d been singing semi-professionally for several years in a few places around the Oak Lawn area of Dallas with pianist Paul Allen like the now-defunct blue mill and old plantation and a small smattering of other clubs, most often with tracks supplied as the flip sides of 45’s (instrumentals of hit versions of songs) or a then-relatively-new development of newly produced backing tracks on cassette tapes. Companies likePriddiss and sound choice realized there was a market out there for people who wanted to sing their favorite songs, old & new but didn’t have access to a band and karaoke itself, while already popular in japan was not even heard of in the united states. For me – I just had to sing – and I didn’t care what I had to do to get the music to do it, and I didn’t have access to a pianist, and to be honest, it was a unique spin for an act, and did catch some attention.
Fast forward to 1988. a friend of mine found out about a club called “whispers” in the harvey hotel in addison, tx where they had a weekly show that you could go to and that supplied backing tracks and the lyrics printed out on sheets and a great sound system, and you could get up and sing. well, i was all for THAT! They even had a “signature song” of mine, “Forever” by Kenny Loggins. We went, and i was dead set on doing that song because it was a knock out choice for me to do. i signed up to do it, and didn’t know anyone there other than my friend i went with. there was a crowd of 8-10 regulars already there. one of them, “ted”, had also signed up to sing that same song, unbeknownst to me, and did a pretty good job on the song.
well, call it my pride, selfishness, foolishness, youth, attitude or a combination of all of these things, but i didn’t change my song and didn’t at the time really think about the perception of not changing it, and while i sang well and my performance was appreciated, “ted” didn’t think too highly of me and thought it was a poor choice for me to have done the song anyway. we never really connected, and of course I understood later on. i should have picked something else, and i did feel bad for that. however, that night led me to meeting mr. glenn lukin, whose friendship became a lifelong thing, and changed the course of my history.
Within two months i got hired on to not only DJ regular music at that club but to run the “starmaker” show there at the hotel, where I stayed for over a year in both capacities. It boosted my regular performance capabilities and my vocal prowess at the same time.
Glenn and I became good and fast friends. shortly after that his father took a trip overseas, and glenn called me one day and said “you have got to come over and see what my dad brought home.” of course i went right over and glenn was there with a brand spanking new pioneer laser disc karaoke machine with 4 or 5 laser discs with fantastic studio quality sound and of course the lyrics right on the screen….and the rest as they say is history. we got hired on to “KJ’ a party for KVIL shortly after that as their entertainment at Dave & Buster’s, the party went very well, D&B saw the potential, and Glenn & I became one of the first karaoke hosts in the city as well as the country in 1990.
I stayed on doing KJ work for a bit more than a year at the time but left for some personal reasons and wanted to work on nothing but music at the time as well; the hosting part became a bit tedious for me. Looking back now i also realize that the bipolar part of me was wildly out of control but i had no idea that was what was happening. i ran, emotionally, but went back to hosting several times over the next 20 years, ending up doing it again starting in 2010, in two clubs, and just left a near-3 year regular show as described above.
I doubt I’ll ever go back to hosting shows, as being a karaoke host was never my intent…in some ways, it declined my progress as a singer and screwed with my mental capability of memorization of lyrics…but there were some very fond times. I never wanted to be “the karaoke guy”.