Just last week a friend told me that he had heard that Kenny Arnold was looking for a band. Arnie wanted to start playing again. Good news. I hadn't seen Kenny in half a decade. I missed hearing him play. We were good friends these past 45 years.
Kenny died Sunday, June 6. He was 61.
We were close to the same age, and we met at a Muskego Beach ballroom dance party in, I think, 1965 or '66. We shared the stage; I was the drummer with a band called The Grand Prixs and Arnie was drumming with The Dynastys.
As young as he was, he steered and pushed that band with an old timer's feel and a rock solid groove. I didn't know the percussion terms, the drumming words, but my 17-year-old instincts told me that Kenny had that "precise beat," that strong, true "meter" that jazz drummers talked about in Downbeat Magazine. Of course, I for sure wasn't about to tell him that. Not for a few years anyway.
The obit I read this morning said he played with Short Stuff, The Rockin' Robins and The James Solberg Band. His Short Stuff years alone showed him to be, as I saw it, the best blues (or blues rock) drummer Milwaukee had ever come up with.
But, there were other, more famous names in his resume. He played, in the '70s, with the late, great, Grammy winning guitarist Luther Allison. He toured a couple years with Charlie Musselwhite (and, thanks in part to Arnie, I got that Musselwhite opportunity following his departure). And, he played with probably 20 or 30 other legendary Chicago blues icons and up and comers over the years, as well as all the local well-known types.
I don't know why he quit playing, or why he seemed to just disappear for maybe half a decade. I missed our occasional phone conversations. Now it's too late, too late for young drummers to hear and experience one of the best Milwaukee ever had to offer.
There will be a visitation from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Prasser-Kleczka South Suburban Chapel, 6080 S. 27th St.