Tony Kinman, Country Punk Pioneer With The Dils, Rank And File, Dies Aged 63

Tony Kinman, country punk musician, producer and composer with The Dils, Rank And File and Blackbird has died at the age of 63.

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Tony Kinman photo by Donna Santisi and Redferns
Photo: Donna Santisi/Redferns

Country punk musician, composer, and producer Tony Kinman has died at the age of 63 following a battle with cancer. His brother Chip Kinman shared the news on Facebook. Kinman was a founding member of California punk band The Dils, Austin-based country punk band Rank & File, as well as Blackbird, and Cowboy Nation.

Born in 1956, Kinman was a founding member of bands like The Dils with his brother Chip in the late ’70s, and the band released a number of memorable 7-inch singles throughout the era including ‘Class War’ and ‘I Hate The Rich’.

The Dils were so poorly received in San Diego that the trio moved briefly to San Francisco, which had a more thriving punk scene. There they associated with bands including the Avengers (for whom Kinman briefly played bass) and The Nuns, before heading south again, where the group plied Los Angeles’ erupting punk scene at Hollywood clubs such as the Masque.

Chip Kinman moved to New York for a time, and teamed up there with guitarist Alejandro Escovedo, whom he knew from The Nuns. Soon Tony Kinman joined them, they relocated to Austin, found Austin drummer Slim Evans through an audition, and Rank and File was born.

The group’s 1982 album Sundown was declared the year’s “best debut album by an American rock band” by the Los Angeles Times’ pop music critic, Robert Hilburn. The Austin Chronicle crowned Rank and File the country band of the year that same year.

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Rank And File’s ‘You’re Not Blank’ was featured in Cheech & Chong’s cult 1978 movie Up In Smoke. Rank and File also recorded ‘Amanda Ruth’, later covered by one of their role models (and sibling musician predecessors), The Everly Brothers, who included it on their 1986 album Born Yesterday.

After Rank and File disbanded, the Kinmans created an even harder-edged techno-metal band with Blackbird, which released two independent albums in 1988 and 1989, and one major label album in 1992 — all three titled Blackbird.

Most recently, Tony Kinman produced an album for his brother’s band Ford Madox Ford titled, This American Blues.

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