Posts Tagged ‘Busman’s Holiday’

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John Kilzer, a singer and songwriter from Tennessee whose music career spanned 30 years and who became a pastor after undergoing drug recovery, has died. Kilzer’s death was disclosed Tuesday by St. John’s United Methodist Church in Memphis, where he served as an associate pastor for recovery ministries. A cause of death was not disclosed. The church said in a statement that it was a sudden death.

Throughout his life, Kilzer struggled with his drinking, often courting trouble with the law. It was after an arrest in the early ‘90s that he began his path toward finding sobriety and his religious faith.

A native of Jackson, Tennessee, Kilzer was born in 1957. An All-American high school basketball player, Kilzer came to the City as a highly touted shooting guard for the basketball team Memphis State University in 1975, playing four years for the Tigers.

He eventually became an English teacher at his alma mater, and later began a new life as a musician — in part inspired by a chance dorm room encounter with Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, the famed Hi Records guitarist and songwriter. Hodges had come across Kilzer messing around with a guitar, took an instant liking to him and became his mentor. “If he hadn’t walked in the room that night, I wouldn’t be a songwriter,” Kilzer has said.

Kilzer’s musical career took off in the late 1980s, when he was signed to the Geffen label, releasing a pair of roots-rock records for the company, including his 1988 debut, “Memory in the Making,” I bought this album on vinyl in 1988 when it was originally released and subsequently on CD a number of years later. John Kilzer possesses one of the world’s finest voices, not only does he have a natural ‘gravel over honey’ tone he is one of the finest singers you will ever hear in terms of his ability to effortlessly ‘tell his story’. He communicates emotion in every song that does everything from make you want to get up and dance to conversely breaking your heart. Lyrically Kilzer’s songwriting is incredibly diverse, every song feels natural, thought provoking, beautiful and real, he is an incredibly clever songwriter who never strays into being crass or pseudo intellectual. There are so many poignant moments on this album which hasn’t aged in almost 30 years, the next album In 1991’s “Busman’s Holiday.” including Kilzer song the minor rock radio hit “Red Blue Jeans” — brought him exposure on MTV and television shows like “Melrose Place.”  Roseanne Cash, Trace Adkins and Maria Muldaur are among artists who recorded his songs.

John Kilzer should have been a star, possibily mentioned in the same breath as Tom Petty and especially Bryan Adams. I have loved this album since I first clapped ears on it in the late 80’s , the years have not diminshed the quality of the songwriting and the playing. The obvious reference point is Bryan Adams circa Reckless but you can pick out influence of blue collar rockers like John Mellancamp in some of that fine songs and guitar playing.

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