32 Years Ago Today: Remembering Larry Kegan
"There's always one more Sunday, and there's always more to give."~Larry Kegan
As we prepare for the May 17th Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan I’ve been sifting through a variety of interesting sources in search of items to highlight pertaining to the various musicians who will be performing here at Duluth’s Sacred Heart Music Center. In the process I discovered a very cool video of two stars of that show, Scarlet Rivera and Gene Lafond, making music with Bob Dylan’s boyhood friend Larry Kegan 32 years ago today.
Larry Kegan met young Robert Zimmerman at a Herzl Camp and the two became friends for life. A diving accident left Kegan a paraplegic when he was only 15 years old, and 10 years later he became a quadriplegic in a car accident. But everyone who crossed his path had the same thing to say about him, a rare individual who was an inspiration to all.
Gene Lafond was also a friend of Larry Kegan’s in high school. When Zimmerman, now Dylan, began touring in earnest in the 70’s, a road show that has continued in various forms to this day, he invited his old friend Larry to join him several times a year. For about 15 years Geno came along to assist, and gained an inside look at the Dylan road show as it transitioned from the Rolling Thunder Revue to the beginnings of his Never Ending Tour. Dylan’s friendship with Larry was such that he dedicated his album Street Legal (one of my favorites) to this boyhood pal who once shared Bob's dream of making music for a living.
Larry did become a performer. As Lafond said when I interviewed him last year, 'We used to sing together. Larry couldn’t scratch his nose but he’d go out and sing for people."
In 1981, during Bob Dylan's concert at the Holiday Star Music Theater in Merrillville, Ind., Dylan called up wheelchair-bound Larry Kegan for the encore and let him perform Chuck Berry's 'No Money Down' while Dylan played the tenor saxophone. A snapshot of this moment in time has been shared on audio here.
32 years ago today Larry, Scarlet and Geno performed at the West Bank hotspot Cafe Extempore, a period of time captured in Cyn Collins's West Bank Boogie. The YouTube video embedded below captures their rehearsal for this event. If you don't have time for the entire segment, Larry's rendition of More to Give qualifies as a "must listen."
Everyone who knew Larry Kegan was inspired by him. His last day on earth happened to be a major changepoint in history as he died on 9-11-2001, the day the Twin Towers fell. Dylan's Love & Theft was released that day and I can imagine Larry looking forward to listening to his lifetime friend's new recording. Instead, he became immersed in making phone calls from his home in Minnesota trying to affirm that all his friends were O.K. According toStreamingGoldies, he he died of a heart attack just hours later. At Larry's funeral service, the rabbi suggested that "God called Larry to heaven to help disabled victims make their transition to eternity. He couldn’t have picked a better man for the job."
In Memoriam of The CHAMPION OF ALL CAUSES...LARRY KEGAN (April 16th, 1942 - September 11th, 2001)
Larry Kegan (Vocals) with Gene LaFond (Vocals and Guitar) and Scarlet Rivera (Violin)
Coffeehouse Extempore / Minneapolis, Minnesota / April 19th, 1982
1. Forty Years (Gene LaFond)
2. More To Give (Larry Kegan)
3. More To Give (Larry Kegan)
4. All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down) (Hank Williams, Jr. 1981)
5. Ain't Got The Blues (Larry Kegan / Gene LaFond)
6. Ain't Got The Blues (Larry Kegan / Gene LaFond)
7. I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan 1967)
8. Violin Lady (Gene LaFond)
9. Ain't Got The Blues (Larry Kegan / Gene LaFond)
10. More Than A Memory (Gene LaFond)
11. Violin Lady (Gene LaFond)
12. North Country Blues (Bob Dylan 1964)
Photo Top Left: This photo appeared on the back cover of the booklet that accompanied Dylan's Tell Tale Signs (Columbia). American Jewish World (AJW) was asked for details about the picture. Jerry Waldman, former executive director of Jewish Family and Children’s Service, identified five teenagers pictured at Herzl Camp in the summer of 1957, including himself. Shown above are (l to r): Larry Kegan (fourth from left, dark jacket and white shirt), Waldman (singing), Bobby Zimmerman (Dylan), Louie Kemp and David Unowsky. Joe Marver, a St. Paul native now living in Carmel, Calif., called to say that he thinks Leon (Aryeh) Spotts, a Herzl counselor, took the photo. He also identified the boy, second from left, as Paul Black. Larry Kegan passed away in 2001. — M.S.
EdNote: This blog entry and others like it have the aim of raising awareness for the upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concert which will kick off the 2014 North Country Dylan Celebration in Duluth and Hibbing. For tickets to this great event visit dulutharmory.org/events.