Rockbrat Remembers: KEVIN JUNIOR December 26, 1969 – January 16, 2016

Posted: August 29, 2016 by Cowboy Col in Rockbrat Remembers:
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

kevin13I only recently heard about the sad passing in January this year of Ohio’s Kevin Junior (real name Kevin Bain Gerber). According to Billboard magazine, singer-songwriter Kevin Junior—who spent his most prolific and fruitful years in Chicago—died at age 46. The story says “the cause of death is not clear,” but as Gossip Wolf reported in 2011, he’d suffered from the life threatening heart disease endocarditis, which required open-heart surgery. He moved back to his native Akron, Ohio, a couple years ago, putting together a new version of his band Chamber Strings. Junior’s troubles over the years with heroin were well-documented, and this addiction impeded his music from ever reaching the audience it deserved. As Ray Borchers wrote in the Chicago reader, “ Junior’s sartorial sensibility and roosterlike hairdo telegraphed the kinship he felt with Johnny Thunders, and he eventually worked closely with Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks. He first led a trashy glam band called Mystery Girls, which morphed into the Rosehips; then he blossomed as a pop auteur with Chamber Strings in the mid-90s. The group made two terrific albums of delicate, soul-streaked orchestral pop, but not long after the 2002 release of the second, Month of Sundays, Junior’s life disintegrated. He spent much of the rest of his years fighting drug addiction and health problems, trying to get back on his feet. “ I first became aware of Kevin Junior’s band The Rosehips via a newsletter from either Jeff Dahl or Nikki Sudden. He played a style of rock n roll I always dug. Stones swagger, Thunders styled, the Jacobites, blue eyed soul, Nikki Sudden, blues, early 70s outlaw country- here was a guy who could also write memorable rock with a truck load of melody, hook, harmony and chorus’.  Hell, he even looked like Ron Wood or Thunders. The Chambers Strings album, ‘Gospel Morning’, was just about pop perfection. Not dissimilar in many ways to the musical hooks that the Jayhawks were scoring big with around the mid to late 90s.  Nikki Sudden released an album in 1999 called ‘Red Brocade’, an album I licenced and subsequently released into Australia on my old label Vicious Kitten Records. The album was recorded in Chicago and was very much the result of a musical collaboration between Kevin Junior and Sudden. I exchanged some emails with Kevin around this time and told him how much I dug Month Of Sundays. I still love a tune like ‘Dead Man’s Poise’.  Kevin was complimentary of both Vicious Kitten fanzine and also what Vicious Kitten records was trying to achieve. In 2001, the second Chamber Strings album, ‘Month of Sundays’ was released, and was critically well received. Blue eyed soul, pure pop, strikingly original. 15 years later this album shows what a high calibre song writer Kevin Junior was. I had lost track of Kevin Junior until around 2007, when I read he was back making music. I didn’t know about his 5 years of heroin hell, which explained why he dropped off the radar. In January, 2007, Journalist Bob Mehr wrote an eye opening article about Junior’s descent into heroin and homelessness in an extremely articulate article in The Chicago Reader that I implore you to read. There is also an insightful interview with Kevin from 2010 on  Sugar Buzz magazine that is also worth reading.   I would rather not think about his drug issues. Rather, he should be remembered and celebrated for his music – superbly crafted rock ‘n’ roll that will endure. If you are not aware of any of Kevin Junior’s music, start with either of the Chamber Strings’ albums, ‘Gospel Mornings’ or ‘Month Of Sundays.  Kevin Junior was born on December 26, 1969 – and passed away January 16, 2016. He is survived by his mother, Gloria Gerber; father, Roger Gerber; and sister Kimberly Edgemon. Rest In Peace.

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Comments
  1. Richard Molesso says:

    Dear Col: This is an excellent article you written about Kevin Junior. I heard about Kevin’s passing on his Facebook page and  I was very shocked of his passing. He was one of my favorite songwriters. As soon as I heard about his passing I created a Facebook in his page in honor called;” Friends Who Like Kevin Junior”. I sent an invite to everyone on my friend’s list who knew Kevin. I sent one to your brother Denis.

    I first met Kevin Junior (December 27th 1996) at a Kevin K. Band when we played The Elucid Tavern in Cleveland Ohio, when I was  on tour The Kevin K. Band with The Trash Brats. I hung out with Kevin that evening with his future wife Karen Krista and another female friend. Kevin gave me a copy of The Rose Hips CD featuring the hits “Rag Doll & “It’s Worth Fighting”. He was nice guy and very friendly. We spoke of music and the different bands that we both liked. We exchanged addresses and would write letters back and forth and made cassettes for each other. Kevin really liked my solo stuff that I was doing at the time in the late 90’s. I really loved “The Chamber Strings” very much. Kevin had sent me both cd’s when they came out. 

    During the spring of 2001 While Kevin was on tour with The Chamber Strings for the 2nd CD “Month of Sundays”, he played at a club in The East Village of New York City called; “Brownies”.  I went down to see him at the show (Friday April 7th) and I filmed the gig for him as well. It was nice seeing Kevin again and hanging out with him at the show and I had asked how the tour was going and he said that he missed Karen. It was the last time I had seen Kevin. He played at show at Maxwells in Hoboken,NJ that summer in 2001- but I had missed the show. We kept in touch over the years. More so when we became friends on Facebook. I last heard from Kevin in November  of 2015. He had written to me asking about about if I had any cassettes of any rare Kevin Junior  stuff that he had sent me years ago.He wanted to released a CD with some rare Kevin Junior stuff. I mentioned to that I still had the cassette and  he was happy about it that I had sent it to him. After I while I was “why hasn’t he written be back about the cassette I sent him? I Hope everything is ok with him”. Then I had found out that Kevin had passed away and I was shocked about the death of my friend Kevin Junior and I quickly created a Facebook page in his honor to keep the memory of Kevin Junior alive called; “Friends of Kevin Junior” where you can post pictures, videos and song clips on his page. If it’s ok with you Cowboy Col. I would to add this amazing article that you about Kevin here on the Facebook that I made for him.

    Sincerely, Ritchie G. Molesso

  2. I first met Kevin Junior (December 27th 1996) at a Kevin K. Band when we played The Elucid Tavern in Cleveland Ohio, when I was on tour The Kevin K. Band with The Trash Brats. I hung out with Kevin that evening with his future wife Karen Krista and another female friend. Kevin gave me a copy of The Rose Hips CD featuring the hits “Rag Doll & “It’s Worth Fighting”. He was nice guy and very friendly. We spoke of music and the different bands that we both liked. We exchanged addresses and would write letters back and forth and made cassettes for each other. Kevin really liked my solo stuff that I was doing at the time in the late 90’s. I really loved “The Chamber Strings” very much as well as The Rose Hips and the solo stuff he did as well. His version of the Johnny Thunders classic ” It’s Not Enough” is pure magic.Kevin had sent me both “Chamber Strings” Cd’s (Gospel Morning -1997 & Month Of Sundays-2001) when they came out.

    During the spring of 2001, While Kevin was on tour with The Chamber Strings for the 2nd CD “Month of Sundays”. He played at a club in The East Village of New York City called; “Brownies”. I went down to see him at the show (Friday April 6th) and I filmed the gig for him as well. It was nice seeing Kevin again and hanging out with him at the show. He was blown away after meeting Nancy Sinatra( who was also at the show – who came down to see her son’s band perform at the club that evening).
    I had asked how the tour was going and he said that he missed Karen. It was the last time I had seen Kevin. He played at show at Maxwells in Hoboken,NJ that summer in 2001- but I had missed the show.

    We kept in touch over the years. More so when we became friends on Facebook. I last heard from Kevin in November of 2015. He had written to me asking about about if I had any cassettes of any rare Kevin Junior stuff that he had sent me years ago.He wanted to released a CD with some rare Kevin Junior stuff. I mentioned to that I still had the cassette and he was happy about it that I had sent it to him. After awhile I hadn’t heard from him and wondering “why hasn’t he written be back about the cassette I sent him? I Hope everything is ok with him”. I had found out that Kevin had passed away and I was shocked about the death of my friend Kevin Junior.I quickly created a Facebook page in his honor to keep the memory of Kevin Junior alive called; “Friends of Kevin Junior” where you can post pictures, videos and song clips on his page.
    Rest in Peace and Rock on Forever in Heaven Kevin Junior 1969- 2016.

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