Today is a sad day for fans of the legendary rockers Y&T, as long time founding bassist Phil Kennemore has passed away after a short battle with cancer. He was 57 years old. He is a musician that will be missed by many. An official statement has been made by his long time band mate and Y&T co-founder Dave Meniketti which can be read on the main page of the bands website HERE. Kennemore and Meniketti were the only original members in the group which was brought to Hard Rock life in 1974. They were briefly called Yesterday and Today, but shortened it to the classic “Y&T” which like their material, has withstood the ever shifting musical times.
Phil Kennemore was Y&T’s only bassist for almost 37 years before his illness manifested and during this tenure had recorded twelve studio albums including the notable “”Black Tiger”, “Mean Streak” and “In Rock We Trust”. There are also three live recordings that feature Phil’s bass playing and vocal talents on. He sang lead vocal on the fan favorite “Squeeze”.
Back in August 2010 when Y&T had again set up a gig for the venerated B.B. King Blues Club, Kennemore was not in the lineup as it had been reported that the musician needed to take the break to undergo necessary back surgery in order to resolve a long time issue. Reading this news on Bravewords.com made me a little sad because he is such a rocking performer, but we all wanted to see him back in action so fingers were crossed by the fans and we welcomed the talented Brad Lang who was doing a fine job of the bands classic material at this show.
During the show lead guitarist and band founder Dave Meniketti informed the audience that Phil had also been diagnosed with cancer and that the doctors were hard at work to get the bassist back into Rock and Roll order. He said that Phil had wanted the fans to know, so he was not going to leave anyone in the dark about it. That was very noble of him and this gave the bassist a ton of positive energy in terms of support and get well soon wishes.
Sadly, it would seem as though the lung cancer he had was a lot stronger than expected as his decline in health was quick and only some five months to the day of that live show I had attended with the subbing bassist. In some sense I guess you can view it as a blessing as opposed to a lengthy number of years as this terrible disease takes you away bit by bit. Of course I think that you have had to have some experience with cancer in your own family or circle of friends to best understand how I meant this view. Believe me, I wish all could recover from this illness and stay with us for much longer than it allows us. After losing both Peter Steele to heart failure and Ronnie James Dio to stomach cancer, I had really had my fill of musical deaths and was really pulling for Phil’s recovery.
My own experience with Y&T as a band was that of my being someone who really enjoyed all of the “big tunes” or their most popular ones across the board but it would be many, many years before I was able to catch them rocking out in the live sense. Even though the “original” lineup was not what was performing when I finally caught them in concert, I felt that as long as Kennemore and Meniketti were on the stage together that I was going to be in for a treat. I must admit that even though it was only a couple of times in my concert roster there is nothing but good memories about the gigs and the sounds that they put down.
I felt fortunate to be able to meet and speak to Phil at those few B.B. King’s gigs that I caught when he was outside of the venue grabbing a smoke, or getting some fresh air before the rocking set that was to come. He was a gentleman who seemed interested in talking to everyone that came up to him. To me he was one of the True Rock stars because he knew and realized just how important the people that support his music were and that they are the ones that keep his melodies strong night after night.
As mentioned earlier in this post, I’ve covered some of the band’s live appearances since becoming a writer along with a small amount of their musical output over on PiercingMetal.com . Interested readers can check them out by clicking THIS LINK. If you don’t already own any Y&T music, you should at least get yourself a Greatest Hits compilation of some kind as the band really did offer up some great tunes and while they will still continue, it will never be the same without Phil Kennemore up there with them. All of these photos were taken by me at B.B. King Blues Club and span a couple of different shows. Many are being seen in this memorial for the first time ever.
We shall really miss the superb showman, musician and persona that Phil Kennemore was. Rest in Peace.