Friday, May 29, 2015

Ray Kennedy 1957 - 2015

Pianist and St. Louis native Ray Kennedy has died after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. He was 58.

Kennedy (pictured) grew up as part of a musical family in Maplewood, where his family owned a music store, and graduated from Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School in 1975.

After moving to NYC in his early 20s, he became best known for his long tenure in the band of guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, but also was involved in many musical projects as a bandleader, working with his brother, bassist Tom Kennedy, and with others.

Kennedy was diagnosed with MS in 2006, and had been in a nursing home in New York since 2013. Friends last year set up a page on the site Youcaring.com to raise funds to help his family with his care.

Survivors in addition to his brother include his wife, Eve, and two young daughters, of New York; and a sister, Wanda Kennedy Kuntz, of St. Louis. Funeral arrangements are pending, and when more information becomes available, StLJN will update this post.

Also, a benefit concert to raise money for Kennedy's family will be held in St. Louis on July 17 at the Sheldon, and when there's more information about that, we'll have it for you here.

You can see an excerpt from a Ray Kennedy performance of his tune "Oscar Night" with John Pizzarelli in the embedded video below.

Update, 9:00 a.m., 6/3/15:: A "celebration of the life" of Ray Kennedy will take place at 7:00 p.m.,  Wednesday, June 10 at Salem Evangelical Free Church, 2490 Pohlman Road (at New Halls Ferry Rd) in Florissant. Also, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has published a detailed obituary about Ray Kennedy, which can be seen online here.

2 comments:

Michelle said...

Ray was an amazing talent and a very special individual. I had not seen Ray since we worked together for about a year in the late 80s but he left such an impression on everyone who was fortunate enough to have known and worked with him. My heartfelt condolences to Ray's family and friends. RIP Ray.

Jim Clement said...

My heartfelt condolences to Tom and Wanda on the loss of your brother.

I remember spending many evenings at your home in Maplewood with Ray during the years 1969 to 1973. Sometimes we would just listen to some jazz albums, and sometimes your dad would give us the key to the music studio at the store – – – so that all us “Krazy Kats” could go jam without scaring half the town. I also remember being in the M-RH marching and swing band. Ray’s talent for tickling the ivories is one that will never be equalled.

R.I.P. “Buzz”, I know the Kool Katz in heaven will be Jumpin’ at the Jive now that you have joined them.

Jim “Sticks” Clement
Honolulu, Hawaii