RIP Kevin, a goodbye from Al-Vis

So much has been said about this, but I just want to add a few more words.

I first met Kevin when he was dating a friend, many years ago, and just after he had left the Jukes. I was impressed by how unassuming he was, not a bit like the ego-centrism of some musicians much less his equal.

Fast forward to the Stone Pony in 1990. I was performing with Chik-A-Boom,and our first keyboard player Dusty Micale was getting busy with La Bamba. Since we were opening for Bobby Bandiera John figured he’d ask Kevin, Bobby’s keyboardist at the time, to play during our set also.

For the next 3 years Kevin played everywhere from the old Cheers in Long Branch, to Leggetts in Manasquan, to the San Souci Lounge in Wilkes Barre with us. For the gigs that were out of the area I used to ride with Kevin. He had an uncanny sense of direction- one night when it was snowing fairly heavily on the way to a gig in Pennsylvania I took a wrong turn. “No problem Al, I’m good at this!”. Sure enough, within the next few minutes we had found our way to the gig.

Along the way there would be stories- Southside, Bobby Bandiera, weird towns (one of his sayings was “this is a town that’s so small it shouldn’t even exist!”) he’d played in.

At a certain point he had a falling out with John over a gig John had given him the wrong date on, and it was over for a while. Pat Killeen became our steadiest keyboard player at that point (with fill-ins from other great players like Mick Seeley and Peter Schulle), some time around 1994.

A few years later, all was forgotten and Kevin started performing with us again, like he never had stopped. No indication at all that we never even rehearsed with him!

When I showed up at a gig and saw Kevin I knew we were in for a great night- 507 Main, Murray MacGregors, private weddings, whatever, I knew we were gonna rock!!!

Our last show was in October of 2010, a benefit for Christine’s Hope For Kids, Christine being a young woman who was killed in the Haiti earthquake while doing missionary work.

You can see some pics of us at that show, and there is a video. Instead of letting each band play, John just said ‘Everybody on the stage!” and all 19 or 20 of us were onstage at the Headliner. The entire Outside The Box band, members of Holme, Chik-A-Boom and Bobby Bandiera’s band all at the same time.

I looked over at Kevin. I knew he was having health problems, he had been telling us for the past year or so. But I looked over at him, and I could see him smiling, doing what he lived for, up there onstage with so many of the musicians he had played with over the years.

As it turned out, it was to be one of his last shows. Within just a few months he fell into a coma and never came out. The Good Lord finally called him home a few weeks ago.

Even with the roller coaster ride its been, its been a great ride, this music career of mine. I am very grateful for it and grateful that I got to perform with Kevin alongside all of those musicians one last time. The Good Lord will call me, sooner or later, and everyone else who was on that stage. But as my good friend Vini Lopez said to me last Saturday when I stopped by to catch his set the night Clarence died, “we ain’t done yet”.

Vini’s band, License To Chill has the great fortune of being dizzyingly busy this summer, which is great news in my mind. This weekend I have four peformances scheduled. And four next weekend. No, I ain’t done yet either.


From Jean Mikle’s June 15 Asbury Park Press Rhythm Room blog:

The last few years have been tough ones for the Asbury Park music community,
which has lost way too many of its long-time players. In early June, Kevin
Kavanaugh, a veteran of the old Upstage Club and the original keyboard player

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, passed away after a lengthy

If you are a fan of the Jersey Shore and the so-called “Sound of Asbury
Park,” you certainly have heard Kavanaugh’s playing, prominent on the Jukes’
first three albums, including the seminal “Hearts of Stone.” Listen to the
classic, “Love on the Wrong Side of Town,” with its prominent keyboard intro, to
get just a taste of Kevin’s playing. He was with the Jukes from 1975 until

He also played keyboards on Little Steven’s first album, the magnificent
“Men Without Women,” released in 1982 with Steven’s band, “The Disciples of

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, I used to see Kevin playing every
Wednesday night at the Stone Pony with Bobby Bandiera’s band. He also performed
regularly with Joel Krauss in the Kevin & Joel Duo, and over the years
played with The High Voltage Brothers, Bob Burger, Marc Ribler (The Kevin and
Marc Duo), and Billy Morris and Harry Filkin (The Kevin, Billy and Harry

He performed regularly as well with Bandiera’s Jersey Shore Rock and Soul
Revue, which has played numerous concerts paying tribute to everyone from Phil
Spector to Eric Clapton to the British Invasion.

(you can read the rest at:

Kevin Kavanaugh (far left) performs with Chik-A-Boom, Bobby Bandiera and Outside The Box 10/20/2011

Kevin Kavanaugh (far left) performs with Chik-A-Boom, Bobby Bandiera and Outside The Box 10/20/2010

1 Comment

  1. thanks Al, great story, Kev was the best of the best! I had the great fortune of doing some studio songs with Kev, the Great Irish Yankee Fan!!!!!!!! JD


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