I learned last night that a high school classmate and former bandmate, Kevin Black, was found dead at his home yesterday. Details are sketchy — apparently he had complained of respiratory issues earlier in the week, but had not seen a doctor. [CORRECTION: Having spoken to a family member, I’ve been informed that Kevin’s fiancee was at the scene and had called 911, but efforts were unsuccessful. As I said at the time of writing, details are sketchy. I regret the error. — WM3]
Kevin and I were friendly, although never really in each other’s inner orbits. He was the vocalist for a while in the band I played in during my senior year of high school. When the other three of us decided the fit wasn’t right (and in retrospect, some of that may have been driven by the fact that he likely couldn’t hear himself — our P.A. left a lot to be desired, and we had no monitors), we went from a quartet to a power trio, changed the band’s name, and were thoroughly chickenshit about it, letting our manager/sound guy/principal roadie/shreve (a term we borrowed from Rush) break the news to him. (This is not an uncommon m.o. in the bush league band business — I’ve been fired that way as well.) Unsurprisingly, Kevin was hurt, but he remained in our orbits off and on over the years.
From time to time I’d run into him when I was in Northern Kentucky, or I’d hear from someone who had seen him recently. We’d laugh about things, get caught up, and then fall out of contact again. But he always seemed genuinely glad to see me, and I always found our encounters to be pleasant.
The last time I saw him was in 2013, when I was up there for my brother’s trial, or for one of the events leading up to it. There was an unofficial class reunion at a local pizza joint one Friday night, and Mrs. M and I took a break from things and swung by. Kevin was there with his wife — they split up three years later. But we spent a good chunk of the evening, well, doing as we always did — engaging in goofy chatter, talking about music and the goings-on in our lives (although in my case, that had pretty much become public record.) As ever, it was nice to see him. He worked as a DJ at a couple of local stations for a while, hosting a later band of mine for an in-studio gig, and running a weekend show on another station a few years ago.
Another friend and former bandmate of mine was in a short-lived classic rock band with Kevin at the turn of the decade. Dennis told me that Kevin had taken up the bass and had become quite proficient at it. But the band fragmented fairly quickly — they often do — and once again, Kevin fell out of touch.
And now he’s gone, and while we were friendly, I don’t know that I can really claim the right to be considered a friend. But we were more than acquaintances, I think, and we shared the connection that people have when they care about music and work together to make it for a while. And when I went to bed last night, and as I woke up this morning, I felt the world has become a little dimmer. So long, Kevin — and thanks.