Friends remember Mean Gene Kelton at funeral

January 5, 2011 8:43:46 PM PST
Bikers from around the area gathered in Baytown to honor a local rocker who used his guitar to entertain and help those in need. Mean Gene Kelton died suddenly, but as his friends tell us, he lived to help others and just saw one of his greatest dreams come true. With a spectacular sunset as a backdrop, an armada of bikers and fellow musicians said their final goodbyes to Mean Gene Kelton. Hundreds of people show up for the funeral services of Sydney Eugene Kelton.

"Well, I miss him as a friend, as a musician. He was something like a brother to me," said James "Mr. V." Vaughn, friend and KPFT DJ.

The longtime local musician died last week when his SUV collided with a school bus in Crosby. That tragic crash ended a 25-year career that reached its pinnacle just last month when Kelton opened for well-known Houston rockers ZZ Top.

"One of his dreams, he always said he wanted to open for ZZ Top and he got a chance to do this," said Vaughn.

Skelton played with a group called Mean Gene and The Die Hards. His former bandmate, HISD spokesperson Norm Uhl, recalled how his longtime friend got his nickname.

"The mean part actually came from Joe Guitar Hughes, a well-known blues man who's now passed away. Gene played with him one night and Joe Guitar Hughes said to him, you play a mean guitar. and from that he got his name Mean Gene Kelton," said Uhl.

Kelton was known for playing benefits to help a wide range of causes such as Bikers Against Child Abuse and Texas Equusearch. He even put together an Elvis Presley tribute CD approved by Elvis' family that raised money for Saint Jude's Children's Hospital.

"I dont think I know any musician in the Houston area that played more benefits and fundraisers for free to raise money for people in need than Gene Kelton. He just had a huge heart," said Uhl.

Kelton also wrote a book about his life as a musician. It's titled 'Mean Gene Kelton's Gigs From Hell: Over 25 years of hell in the music business. And its all true."