Nearly a week ago the news broke that Kevin Junior, frontman of the indie rock band The Chamber Strings, had died. Kevin Junior was his stage name, but I just knew him as Kevin. Three years ago I received a knock on my door and it was my new neighbor introducing himself. He looked old, and tired. My impression was that he had been around the block a few times, and he looked like someone I wouldn’t interact with on the regular. In fact, I think he was wearing eyeliner (unless his eyes were always that dark) but it wouldn’t have surprised me anyway because it’s acceptable in true rock fashion. Kevin said he was a musician, but at this point I wasn’t sure what kind. My fiancé is also a musician so I thought he would be a great addition to house, even if he did look a little edgy.
Since Kevin moved in, things were quiet, but I decided to find out as much about him as I could, because if I was having this guy live above me in the same house, I figured I better get to know who he is and what’s his story. I was gathering our mail one day when Kevin’s mail was given to our apartment by mistake – typical of the post man. That’s when I learned of Kevin’s given name and decided to do some digging. I was in complete shock when I learned of his past. I didn’t expect to find much, but much to my surprise a quick Google searched showed articles and documentaries about this guy. I thought WHOAH, I’m sharing a house with a rockstar? AWESOME!
Living with Kevin wasn’t always easy though. Often times he would have moments of frustration that would creep through the floors. It was annoying at first, but as Kevin and I got to know each other, it began to not bother me as much. I knew of Kevin’s troubled past and just chalked it up to lingering old habits. Eventually, I realized that when Kevin made noise, I knew he was still alive. I was often worried and concerned for his well-being. If Kevin got too quiet, I began to worry.
I often ran into Kevin at our neighborhood bar, Annabelle’s. I didn’t go there often, but a friend of mine had a monthly comedy show there, and many times Kevin played upstairs while my friend’s show was taking place in the basement. It became a tough choice to try to divide my time between the two. Kevin’s music is so good, that if you heard him play, you didn’t want it to end. It was entertaining to hear Kevin practice all the time. It never bothered me one bit to hear him playing his guitar and singing upstairs. I absolutely loved it when it echoed through the floors. Sometimes, I would message Kevin in admiration. I told him once that he reminded me of Ryan Adams.
“That’s funny that you mentioned Ryan Adams – he is an old fan of mine! He came to one of our gigs in NYC back in 1999 – he showed up at the soundcheck to talk to us -ha! Then I was in a bar in LA a while ago and he came up and introduced himself and told me how much he loves my records – he was actually able to name all the titles, etc. I’ve not seen him since then but he seems to be doing amazingly well these days. Well, thanks again for nice words and I’d love to come down for a beer sometime! Say hello to Max. G’nite. KJ”
Whaaaat? Star struck. I love Ryan Adams, which is probably why I fell in love with Kevin’s music. Kevin had the appearance of a rock star but the voice of an angel. He was so soft spoken, and despite his rough exterior, he was one of the most gentle souls you had ever met.
I once had asked Kevin for a CD but he said he was out, so I searched online to buy one. Christmas morning of 2014, one of my gifts from my fiancé ended up being Gospel Morning. He said he would have Kevin sign it, and we regret that he never did. We just never bothered to ask because Kevin kept pretty busy. His schedule didn’t reflect ours well. He would be up all night and sleep all day. We figured we would get around to asking him, but it never felt like a priority, because we thought we had time. When I opened my CD we decided to play it right then and there. We were laying on our living room floor at the time, blaring Kevin’s album – respectively listening to the song “Everyday is Christmas”, hoping Kevin would hear it in awe. I took his CD in the car with me and listened to it on repeat for many weeks. I still have yet to purchase Month of Sundays but it’s on my list. Maybe I’ll get that one for my upcoming birthday… One can only hope!
Anyway, below is one of my favorite songs. Originally done the by The Shirelles in the 1960’s. Please enjoy and be sure to check out the other songs. Better yet, buy an album, it would mean a lot to him.
After the seeing the outpouring of generosity that has now consumed your Facebook page for miles, you were loved. So many people have come to share their appreciation, and their sorrow. Your music has meant a lot to many people. You were special to each of their lives. It is an understatement to say that you will be missed, old pal. We love you KJ!