Kirk Kaufman

2013 - Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award

Kirk Kaufman's contribution as an artist, musician, writer, performer, producer, and engineer is unparalleled, as is evident by this, his 4th induction into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association’s Hall of Fame. Some of Kirk's career highlights include owning and operating his own recording studio for over 40 years and working with artists such as SlipKnot, B.J. Thomas, and Brian Wilson.

“I was born in 1950 and attended a one room country school for two years. There were thirty-two kids and one piano.” Even though he had no real interest in music, he did the Christmas musical. Kirk learned to play the saxophone in grade school, “very poorly,” he adds. They played a lot of records at home, and his brother, Gary, always had a vast record collection of top 40 recordings. He also bought a cheap guitar at the Iowa State Fair and I started to play it.

The Beatles came out when Kirk was 13, and he instantly became a big fan. He joined a band called West Minsist'r at the young age of 16. That band was together from 1966 until 1974. In 1972, the recording studio Junior’s Motel was founded on his parent’s farm. The first band who recorded there was a group from Decorah, IA called the Dogs. In January, 1972, Brian Wilson came and recorded.

In 1980, Kirk helped form a band called, The Hawks. They were signed to Columbia Records and released two albums, which had some success. They also had the opportunity to play on American Band Stand. During the late 1980's through the 1990's, Kirk released various recording collections with a band called Junior's Army. They enjoyed some impressive airplay, including being heard on the Dr. Demento show.

The studio made some vast improvements in equipment and construction during the 1990's all the while making some legendary recordings for a number of bands. One of the bands who recorded there went on to sell millions of cds – Iowa’s own, SlipKnot.

Kirk is currently working with singer/songwriter Heather Kelly, and he has helped form the band HipKnosis. HipKnosis includes Dave Hearn, also a former member of the Hawks, drummer Jon Passow, and guitarist Melvin James. HipKnosis is currently working on their fourth album. They have received international airplay and have played many live performances.

In addition to the groups already named, many other artists and bands have recorded with Kirk. A few of them include: Stone Sour, Jessy Brady, White Lightning, Straight UP, The Hawks, The Stumbletons, The Rejects, John Muse and hundreds of others.

According to Kirk Kaufman, running a recording studio is great for a musician. “You meet all kinds of upcoming musicians and songwriters. I feel lucky to have worked with such diverse players over the years, and I know I still have a lot more songs in me.”

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