Kevin Pate, Phoenix Music Veteran, Dead at 54
Lonna Kelley, who stayed close with Kevin after the Broken Hearted Lovers ended, played a short European tour with Kevin opening for Giant Sand and held a regular gig with him at Carly's Bistro every third Saturday for nearly two years.
"Talking to Kevin was like talking to your best girlfriend or your favorite aunt who buys you cigarettes and lets you drink behind your parents' back," she says. "I don't mean to say he was feminine per se. He just didn't have that male front. He told great, really funny-crazy, stories about his drinking days, and some really sad stories about his childhood. His dad was a jazz trumpet player but also a raging alcoholic. [Karen Pate states her father was actually a clarinet/sax player.] A lot of his stories involve him hiding. But when he told these stories, he never indulged in self-pity. They were just stories, and he just happened to be a character in the story. And, boom, he would light another cigarette and cross his legs and lean forward and give me that crooked smile of his. You could talk to him about feelings. If your life was falling apart -- if you wanted to gouge your eyes out from some new heartache -- he was there. He was good at empathizing without over-indulging grievances. He was quick to remind me that things always change. Feelings fade, things fall apart, and come back together."
Pate strived to live without ego and wouldn't tolerate entitled nonsense from someone else. He was quick to call out stupidity: Once, while hanging out at the Emerald Lounge, we observed a nascent wanna-be glam band indulge in a fit, taking forever to start a Tuesday night gig while generally acting like idiots. He took a slow drag of his cigarette and said disapprovingly. "Man, they're acting like rock stars, but they haven't earned it yet."
The fact that Kevin believed you had to earn rock stardom is reason alone for him to have had gotten the kind of rock stardom the world at large could recognize. Somehow without the platinum records or the big car, or the massive ego that goes with them, he was still a rock star to a whole lot of people. Maybe the best kind. The kind that stayed your friend.
Exit stage right, Kevin Lee Pate, you've earned your peace.