Kyle Wilson’s love of rock music was ignited at the age of 10 when a friend played for him the recently released KISS Alive II album. Kyle was blown away, picked up his Wiffle Ball bat to play air guitar, and began to dream of becoming a star.
A few years later, Kyle was invited by homeroom buddy Jon Yen (now a successful songwriter/producer in China) to learn to play bass, and soon thereafter to join his first band, Aftermath. “Jon wanted the best, and that drove in me a work ethic that I still have to this day,” Wilson says. For Kyle, Aftermath’s headlining performance at a junior high school fundraiser sparked in him a love of performance, which he says he “couldn’t get enough of.” That led to post-high school gigs in Long Island clubs and bars, and trying to emulate the music and lifestyles of the late ’80s “big hair” bands.
Kyle eventually reached a crossroad and realized that if he were serious about becoming an artist, he needed to move to Los Angeles—what he describes as “the Rome of music.” Kyle packed his belongings and left the East Coast in the rearview mirror. He settled into an apartment with a buddy and his girlfriend, sleeping on a futon.
The transition to North Hollywood brought some unexpected events including the LA riots, a major earthquake, and the O.J. Simpson pursuit and trial. Not easily deterred, Kyle would spend six years learning the music business, cutting tracks and pitching recordings to production companies while performing as often as he could. Yet the industry was changing, and LA was no longer the music mecca it had been. The Seattle grunge scene was taking the country by storm. LA record producers were looking for bands with a unique sound and image. “If you weren’t Green Day, the LA recording companies weren’t interested,” says Wilson. “However, I’m eternally grateful for taking the risk, moving 3,000 miles away and making a life. It created more self-confidence in me than I had ever imagined. I really grew up.”
Next up for Kyle was to cut his long hair, move to Phoenix, and begin to build a career in sales management. While he never took a break from playing his bass guitar, Kyle began a 20-year hiatus from playing in bands.
Fortunately for our local music scene, Kyle found his way to Evergreen in 2014 with the encouragement of his sister, Leianne. The siblings attended an EChO fundraiser at the Ice House (now Muddy Buck) where Kyle first heard musician John Erlandson. John would become his realtor, friend, and musical collaborator, introducing Kyle to area musicians, and inviting him to perform with him and singer Lisa Delia. “I knew I wanted to get back to music. Having the opportunity to play with John, who’s so well-known and beloved, was like performing with ‘the Bon Jovi of Evergreen,’” he says.
Kyle “fell back in love” with being in bands, which have included Subject2Change, Bandersnatch and now Band Kamp, where he’s had the chance to explore a variety of musical styles from the ’70s through the 2000s. “Band Kamp is the most fun I’ve had in a band in my life,” says Wilson, whose role has expanded to include playing guitar and singing.
Kyle’s love of music has motivated him to give back to the community as president of Boogie Benefits, Inc., the local nonprofit that produces music events to raise funds for local causes. In his work life, Wilson lends his voice as an event MC and as a professional speaker who creates and conducts workshops based on the concept of “leading by your values.” In 2023, Kyle was the keynote speaker for a Toastmasters District Conference, and looks forward to addressing service organizations and business groups in 2024. Above all, Kyle recognizes his good fortune finding a home in our mountain community: “I’m thankful for this community of warm, wonderful people. Having spent years all over the western states, I can say that I have never lived in a better place. I feel fortunate and blessed to be here.”