kenny and sam



chameleon club

send me the bill
somewhere out west

I met Kenny in Long's Park in the early 70's. He was sitting on a rail fence in front of the amphitheater, playing his guitar with a bunch of freaks around him. There's a big wide lawn in front, and as I got closer I could hear that he was making up lyrics about me and the goofy hat I was wearing. Everyone who came by became part of his long and rambling "hanging out in the park" song.

Kenny made music like that, about whatever was. Songs about things that probably had never had songs written about them before, like Fart Stains and Poontang in my Mustache. Songs that dealt directly with subjects that other writers would politely avoid, like Ugly Girls (Need Lovin' Too). Songs of protest, like Nuclear Rat and Anti-Anti. And songs of longing and happiness, like The Boy Alone and Maybe Baby.

Sometime, maybe ten years later, Steve Patton instigated a recording session with Kenny. I had a little studio I called the Cat Ranch along the highway in Paradise, and Steve wanted to get some stuff he and Kenny had been working on committed to tape before the whole thing fell apart. Fine by me.

By this time Kenny had a solid reputation as a drunk and a troublemaker (and sometime crossdresser, but that's another song). Steve and Kenny came in to record basic tracks- drums and electric guitar. Kenny wanted to sing while he played, so he'd know where he was, and I had them both in the same room- I think I had the guitar amp in another room, with Kenny and Steve wearing headphones. Whatever the setup, it didn't sit well with Kenny. The idea of overdubbing was foreign to him, and had I been smart I would have taken everything live. We recorded basic tracks for 6 or 8 songs this way.

In those days I was bouncing tracks between stereo tape machines. Be that as it may, I was hoping to make a "real" recording of Kenny, with quality vocals and a solid rhythm bed. Unfortunately, that first session turned out to be the most sober one.

Getting Kenny back in to record the final vocal parts was a struggle. He thought they were done already. He didn't realise that I hadn't actually recorded him singing that first time- I didn't have enough tracks for it! But we could hear some of his singing leaking into the drum mics, and we used that to give him cues as to where his verses and choruses came in. (I hadn't understood just how unstructured Kenny's style was at the time- again, my bad). We got him to re-take the vocals, but it stressed him out, and he drank mightly. Around this time he got onery with me, and developed the idea that I was trying to steal his songs.

The project got finished somehow. I think I laid in all the bass, keyboard and lead guitar stuff, but others have claimed to have helped, and my memory is poor. Kenny was unhappy with the results. He went on to form other bands, and eventually found one, the Psychoholics, that suited him.

Thanks to Dave Crossley for photos and more recent recordings. Dave had his own tribute site to Kenny with many photos, stories and song files, but I'm not sure where it has gone. Kenny's friend Anya Diva had a site with photos and songs from Key West and NYC. Not sure where that is now either.

Here's a couple of songs from the Paradise sessions:

Dress and Dance

The Taking