Kevin Pate Memorials Set for This Week in Phoenix and Tucson

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Kevin Pate photo
Michael Molumby
AZ bassist Kevin Pate
Guitarists and singers get more than all their share of worship. People even give the drummer some from time to time--if they're generous they'll even let him solo interminably. But for whatever reasons no one ever coined the phrase "bass hero," a handle that suited Arizona bassist Kevin Lee Pate. A month ago on March 15, when he died of cirrhosis of the liver in a Yuma prison, no one was prepared to say goodbye to Kevin Pate, especially not in a manner that most suited him.

More: Remembering Phoenix bassist Kevin Lee Pate.

Kevin was never one for histrionics. I once saw his amp head blow up into a fireball behind him at a gig. With the calm of a yogi he turned around and asked, "Does anyone have a towel or something?" He'd probably be equally nonplussed--but still appreciative--of the dual Kevin Pate Memorials planned for him in Tucson and Phoenix this weekend.

On Saturday, April 13, Club Congress in Tucson hosts "Kevin's Rock N Roll Heaven - A Celebration of the Life And Music of Kevin Pate," featuring Silver Bell (with David Slutes, Chick Cashman and Robin Johnson), Lonna Kelley, Silver Fox, Greyhound Soul, and Gentlemen Afterdark. The latter features lead vocalist Brian Smith, who played with Pate in the Beat Angels for many years, and Robin Johnson, who with his wife, Anastasia Palmer Johnson, organized this event and the "Memorial and Life Celebration of Kevin Pate" which takes place on Sunday, April 14, at Carly's Bistro in Phoenix.

"Time heals everything," says Robin Johnson, who now seems ready to celebrate a kick-ass life instead of ruminating over its sudden end. "A month down the line, that's exactly the way it should be: A celebration, raise a glass, have a nice evening, play some music like the goddamned Rolling Stones. That's all Kevin ever wanted to do anyway."

Johnson is also comforted that Kevin dying in prison wasn't as dire a scenario as it seemed. "If Kevin was on the outside, he wouldn't have gotten any medical insurance. Kevin actually had guards come in and checking on him. There were people there that totally dug Kevin. It wasn't quite so bad for him because of the built-in good will. He always had a band room where he could play. Playing guitar goes a long way with a lot of the morons in there. In Kevin's case, the people at the prison found out he had a lot of people on the outside that cared for him."

Location Info

Carly's Bistro

128 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

Club Congress

311 E. Congress St., Tucson, AZ

Category: General

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KP (Kevn Pate)… is the reason I never tried to become a great bass player...

I met Kevin years ago when he joined my friends band Gentlemen Afterdark. He was the best bass player I have ever seen. Yes, I have seen many - including Flea and Mike Watt - but never seen (or want to see) the bloke from Level 42, and Kevin is still the best.

I have two anecdotes about Kevin. The first, is 1993 when I moved over to London with former Gentlemen Afterdark guitarist, keyboard player and childhood friend Stuart Smith to form a band. We were sitting together, our first weeks in a new country, figuring out some new songs Stuart wrote and I, conscious of my limited ability to play the bass, said 'hey, look man - you have to understand. I ain't no Kevin Pate on Bass…' 

Stuart just laughed and said 'Dude, Kevin Pate was born in the back of a van with a bass in his hand. You will never be as good as him…' 

All the pressure to become great went away, if I was never was going to be as good as KP I might as well be myself. And I have always foliowed that to this day and luckily found bands who will have me.

A few years ago I last saw Kevin here in London and we had a nice chat. Before we spoke he was, unbeknownst to me, playing bass for Lonna Kelley - opening for Howe Gelb. Oncd I recognised him on stage I convinced my English friend, who was a bit drunk, to yell out 'Gentlemen Afterdark' in the middle of their set. Now, this is a phrase that has never, and will never be yelled out in England. 

Caught off guard, Lonna said 'I think they are talking to you Kevin' and much to his credit Kevin gently leaned over his stand up bass and purred into the mic - 'probably somebody I owe money to…'

Kevin Pate - the best bass player I ever saw…

Don Brosnan

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