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More love for Phil Kennemore

By Tony Hicks
Thursday, January 13th, 2011 at 2:05 pm in Uncategorized.

I heard from a few people after deadline for whom I left messages concerning my tribute to Phil Kennemore, Y&T’s longtime bassist, who died last week of cancer at 57.

Though I spoke with two of the other original members of Y&T (Dave Meniketti and Leonard Haze), I didn’t hear from the fourth member, Joey Alves. He did call me back and we’re playing phone tag.

There’s a great video on YouTube of Joey (and Ron Keel) sitting in on “Black Tiger” at Y&T’s New Year’s Eve show a few weeks ago.

I didn’t hear back from a few of Y&T’s Bay Area contemporaries from back in the day, but I did received a text from Brad Gillis of Night Ranger, who said “Phil was a great man and excellent bass player who seemed to always have a smile on his face. He will be missed.”

Then Jason Newsted, former bassist from Metallica and Voivod, texted me: “Real shame about Phil – true veteran rocker, RIP. Back in the day, Flotsam (Newsted’s pre-Metallica band) rocked some Y&T.”

One thing I had to remove from my story because of space issues was a personal story about seeing Kennemore  in public when I was in high school. I was one of so many 80s rocker kids who didn’t completely understand that Y&T wasn’t one of the biggest bands on the planet. That’s how close they were with their fans, especially in the East Bay.

The best analogy to describe Kennemore’s attitude toward rock are the stories of former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Jack Reynolds, who was famously devoted to his craft – so much so that Reynolds would show up to Candlestick Park early the morning of a game in full pads and uniform.
The first time I ever saw Kennemore away from the stage was in 1984 – near the peak of the band’s commercial success (1985 single “Summertime Girls” reached no. 55 on the Billboard charts, which were never appropriate criteria for a good Y&T song). While in high school, a friend and I were driving through a Danville parking lot on a weekday when we saw Kennemore emerge from a nearby bank … again, in full rock gear, looking like he was about to go on stage.

We rolled down the window and yelled, in tandem, “Squeeze!”, the name of a frenetic Y&T song sung by Kennemore, during which he delivers some seriously unhinged screaming. Kennemore’s head spun around, and he pumped a fist while walking by. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome we thought that was.

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