I was first introduced to Kevin Junior’s music when my friend Bryan Thomas sent me a mix tape in 1999 that contained a song from the then brand new Chamber Strings album Gospel Morning. I’m pretty sure it was “Flashing Star,” which remains my favorite Chamber Strings tune. After hearing that song I rushed out to buy the CD, which turned out to be a complete masterpiece, a perfect blend of Big Star and Faces-like swagger with breathtaking orchestral arrangements. Two years later, the equally thrilling Chamber Strings follow up Month of Sundays saw the light of day. It was then that I finally got to meet Kevin when Bryan interviewed him for the cover story of my old fanzine Vendetta. The Chamber Strings came to LA and played multiple live shows, which were just as fantastic as the records.
In photos and in concert, Kevin was a true rock star. With his perfect Ron Wood Faces-era haircut, velvet blazers and colorful scarves, he seemed larger than life. A Bowie-like figure for my set of friends. But that was just Kevin the performer. In real life I would discover that he was a gentle soul. A sweet friendly man who loved to talk about music. I stayed in touch with Kevin over the years. He ended up moving back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio after I moved to Cleveland, so I was able to see him perform and hang out with him again.
Some fourteen years after Bryan’s cover story, he still thanked me for featuring him. In fact, my last email exchange with him a few months before he passed away in January (a week after Bowie) was to ask me for some extra copies of the issue,which I mailed to him promptly. He told me he was updating his scrapbook, which at the time didn’t seem weird. When he died, however, the first thing I thought about was that final correspondence.
I’m not a religious man and it makes me bitter that Kevin had to leave us at the relatively young age of 46. I can only think that some of us are meant to shine brighter but not for as long. I miss you Kevin and hope you’re at peace. You were a true flashing star.