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Mean Gene Kelton R.I.P.

Mean Gene Kelton's beautiful head stone designed by his wife, Joni Kelton
I was honored to receive an invitation to the dedication of the gravestone and final resting place of Sidney Eugene Kelton, better known in the Blues world as Mean Gene Kelton.  His wife Joni is a friend of mine, as was Gene, and I had to make it a priority to be there.
An intimate group of family and friends dared the threat of lightning and thunder for a small service
 My friend Elke Meyer informed me Joni designed the graphics and text for the grave stone and I must say, I’ve never seen anything so wonderful.  I was part of an intimate group of maybe fifty other people and we gathered under the rain-laden clouds, as the gods of lightning and thunder hailed a final goodbye to Mean Gene.
Mean Gene Kelton at Roseland Park for the Save Our Bayou Rally
 It was a fitting tribute to the man some knew as “too white to play the blues” and others, the hot-lick blues guitarist from Baytown, Texas.  I have his CD’s and listen to them often and it’s a shame, but honestly, I didn’t realize the man was as good as he was until after his untimely death on the 28th of December, 2010.  It was evident to me how wounded this group of people are over his passing.
Joni Kelton and family at dedication service
 KPFT (90.1) Public radio regularly plays his music and often, I’ve never heard the song, but no one has to tell me who I am listening to.  Along with his band, the Die Hards, they have a very distinctive powerful guitar and lyrics ranging from emotional to earthy.  If you grew up in Baytown back in the heydays of Goose Creek, you remember “Cruisin’ Texas Avenue", a Mean Gene staple.
A very diverse group of fans, friends, and family attended and exchanged stories.
 Self-described as a performing "black leather blues and redneck rock 'n roll” no doubt Gene Kelton will become the legend in death he deserved in life.  In his honor, I created a geocache close to his grave so people can use their GPSr units to find his grave site, as it is way out in the East Texas woods in Pine Valley Cemetery, near Pumpkin, Texas.  I also created a geocaching “Challenge”, which people who play this hi-tech game of hide and seek can complete if they take their own photo with Mean Gene’s headstone in the background.
Emotions ran high as the grave stone was dedicated in the old cemetery
 Last, I built a page on the web site Find a Grave, so those interested in genealogy can find his marker.  Thank you my friend Joni Kelton for allowing me into your inner circle and may God bless Mean Gene, his band - the Die Hards, fans, friends, and family.


Trudy Nuce said…
Thank you so much Bert for such a special article on Mean Gene. Yes the Dedication was very special and it was very nice to be among all his family and friends. We all loved Gene very much and will forever miss him. Thanks again.

Trudy Nuce
Anonymous said…
I wish I wasn't sick... I would've loved to have been able to gone out there too. Thanks for the write up, Bert! Great job! DSM
Anonymous said…
That was nice Bert.Mean Gene could pick a guitar.he will always be missed. SS

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