Sunday, May 19, 11:19 PM
Hi, it's 11:19 PM on May 19. BFD got home today from a gig in Colorado; when I got home I dipped into the Internet for a sec and found some very disturbing news on a progressive newsgroup. I wanted not to believe it, but before long I began receiving phone calls confirming a very sad truth:
Kevin Gilbert, one of the most astonishingly talented composer/musician/vocalists I've met, passed away on Friday, May 17.
For those who aren't familiar with Kev's work, he first garnered attention as the lead vocalist of the band Toy Matinee. They released one fine album, and did a tour which featured Marc Bonilla and Toss Panos (as well as Sheryl Crow on backing vocals), before Kev and the Matinee parted ways. Last year Kev released his masterpiece, the solo album "thud". Find this album immediately and listen to the song "Shadow Self". It is terrifyingly close to sheer genius.
Kevin was kind enough, in 1992 during the recording of "hat", to drive from LA to San Diego and take part in the recording of "Eno And The Actor" (Kev plays The Actor) and "Heaven Likes You". During the recording of the latter, I managed to get the sound of Kevin screaming to warm up his throat onto tape...you can hear his cry behind the line "An eye due to". He also changed the fourth "heaven likes you" to "Kevin likes you"...the "secret message" referred to in the liner notes.
Kev and I worked together again on the Yes and Genesis tribute albums which came out last year (both sessions were surprisingly effortless, creative and loads of fun), and we both contributed separate tracks to a Gentle Giant tribute album which is in the works, but we never recorded any more original material together. He proposed that we do a Stanley Snail album (that's the group name we used for the Yes tribute) of original material, but record company politics halted the project. We had been writing lyrics together via email over the last few months, and I was planning to call and ask him if he wanted to take part in the recording of my next studio album, possibly even as a co-producer. It is to my eternal regret that I never made that call.
Kevin deserved far more respect than he received from a very strange industry. His feelings of bitterness toward the music business are spilled with beautiful clarity in "Suit Canon", the original track which he contributed to the Gentle Giant project (although a Gilbert original, the GG influence is unmistakable). It's an important piece, and I believe it was important to Kevin that it be heard. It now appears that the track may stand as his final public musical statement.
It would be a lovely memorial if those of you who haven't yet bought Kev's "thud" CD would do so. His skills as producer, songwriter, performer were a marvel...everything about his work was top-notch. That a talent of his magnitude was largely ignored during his life is, unfortunately, not surprising, but it's shameful nonetheless. I expect that a lot of people will come out of the woodwork to publicly proclaim Kev's brilliance now that he's gone. Things often seem to work that way.
Working and hanging with Kev was great fun, memories I will always treasure. I'm proud to have known him and I miss him terribly.