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Houston’s Mean Gene Kelton Dies in Auto Accident December 30, 2010

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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The Houston music scene lost a legend Tuesday night when Mean Gene Kelton, driving his Ford Explorer on FM 2100 in Crosby on Tuesday evening attempted to pass a car stopped to make a left turn and collided with a school bus. The bus was carrying the Crosby ninth grade girls’ basketball team. Kelton was killed in the wreck. The occupants of the bus escaped serious injury.

Kelton was slated to headline a New Year’s Eve Day party in Crosby, Texas.

Originally from Mississippi, “Mean” Gene Kelton was a staple on the local blues music scene for years with his band The Die Hards, though he was most well-known outside the city for novelty hits like “My Baby Don’t Wear No Panties.” Mean Gene and the Die Hards had shared the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Allan Coe, the Marshall Tucker Band and Omar & the Howlers, among many others.

“He understood blues and wrote great songs,” says Houston music scholar Roger Wood. “Kelton was very versatile. He could play more rock or more country if it suited the venue or audience better. In terms of guys who work in the blues, Kelton blurred lines between the inner city blues and a biker audience. He was really proud of that, loved bridging that gap. He worked hard to promote the notion of going to see live music.”

Kelton’s “mean” nickname was supposedly given to him by another Houston blues great, Joe “Guitar” Hughes, who used it to describe Kelton’s guitar style.

“He was good enough to share a stage with guys like Joe Hughes and the elder bluesmen,” says Wood. “He was slightly younger and a different race, but he had their respect.”

In addition to his musical legacy, Kelton will be remembered for his active role in the musical community.

“If there was ever a cause or a fund raising event, Kelton was always not just there but a part of it, making it a bigger success. He was a guy you could always count on,” says Wood. “He will be missed.”

Kelton is survived by his wife Joni, his mother and his two children.


1. Renee Weede - December 30, 2010

This has been the best tribute yet that I have seen since Gene’s tragic and untimely death Tuesday night 12/28/10. He was so special. He had thousands of fans and friends, but he made each one feel like he knew them personally. He remembered their faces and their names, and he gave so much to the community as well, performing at many benefits and charity fundraisers. His stage name, Mean Gene Kelton belied the real man behind the guitar and sunglasses. He was a quiet, pensive man with a kind soul and a big heart. Now it’s time for us to reach out and support his wife, Joni, and his family that he leaves behind. Thanks for sharing these videos and memories. It’s so hard to believe that he’s gone.

2. David W. King - December 30, 2010

Although I never met Gene personally, he was always quick to thank me for anything word that I may have written or posted regarding him, something too few musicians take time to do.

I will miss our correspondence.

3. David W. King - December 30, 2010

From the Houston Blues Society:

A Benefit for the family of Mean Gene Kelton
Tomorrow 12/31 from 2 p.m . – 5 p.m. the Die Hards will be playing a benefit at Rowdy Bucks at 16210 Lindstrom Road, Crosby, TX 77532-5948, (281) 462-1731. This will provide support for Gene’s family – so we do hope you can make plans to attend.


VIEWING: Tues. Jan 4th @Crespo & Jirrels Funeral Home: 6123 Garth Rd., Baytown 12-7 family will be there from 4-7

SERVICE: Wed. Jan. 5th 6:00 pm @ Houston Raceway Park, 2525 FM 565, Baytown Uncle Dave Lancon Presiding

In lieu of flowers donations can be made to one of the 4 Die Hard Charities:
Harley’s Angels,
St. Jude,
BACA (Bikers against Child Abuse)
or Texas Equusearch.

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