- 83 years old
- Date of birth: Apr 26, 1928
- Place of birth:
Shawnee, Oklahoma, United States
- Date of passing: Apr 5, 2012
- Place of passing:
Upland, California, United States
|Being from Oklahoma, I'm kinda like Will Rogers, I never met a man I didn't like, a woman neither, especially a pretty girl. I've had such a great life.|
"In Loving Memory of Kenneth Montgomery"
Kenny Montgomery still had the first guitar he ever owned, hanging on the wall in his music room. He was twelve years old when he got that guitar. He'd already been playing for six years on borrowed guitars.
Kenneth Paul Montgomery died April 5, 2012. He was 3 weeks shy of his 84th birthday. "Kenny" was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma. He played music everyday. Even when his shoulder ached and the doctor said he had worn the cartilage to the bone, Kenny would not stop playing lead guitar on his beloved Fender Stratocaster. He said it kept him young. One minute he was juicing the blues on his Strat, the next minute he'd strap on his 12 string and soar with Marty Robbins.
When he was 80, Kenny discovered the iPod and Pandora. His grandson, Eric Hardin, introduced him to the world of electronic wonders. Kenny would welcome family and friends into his music room. With a big smile, he'd proudly proclaim, "Today I'm going to be playing along with some friends of mine." His fingers were almost too big for the iPod controls, but he eventually mastered the new device, and with the delight of a child he'd settle into his favorite chair and listen for the next song. He could play everything, from Chet Atkins to Eric Clapton, from Muddy Waters to Les Paul.
Kenny's musical career started in a tent revival. He was six years old when he picked up a guitar and started playing along with the choir. His father, the Preacher, took this as a sign to spread the gospel throughout the land. They traveled in a Model T to small towns in Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. They'd set up in a brush arbor or an old schoolhouse. Kenny would strap a pie tin on his overalls as a collection plate and stroll down the aisles strumming his guitar. But in his mind's eye it wasn't an old schoolhouse, it was the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. And he was playing to a packed house of country music loving fans.
By the time Kenny was a teenager he had joined a western swing band, the "Triple M Boys". Dude Rawson, age 86, played fiddle and sang. He says the first time he saw Kenneth was in a revival. "He was quite a showman and one fine guitar player. He'd take his left hand and come up over the finger board and play upside down like that." Kenny went on to play with the Oklahoma Playboys. They had their own radio show every Friday night at 5:00 PM. The band's name was a tip of the cowboy hat to everyone's western swing hero, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.
Kenny played lead guitar with many old time country music singers and musicians, like Freddy Hart and Leon McAuliff, Bob Will's sensational pedal steel player. He also played with Jack Guthrie, Woody Guthrie's cousin. Jack had a number one hit song, "Oklahoma Hills Where I Was Born."
Kenny remembers: "I was working at the Hob Nob in Oklahoma City. Jack played there off and on for a year. He sure could hold his own. We were playing on the bandstand. We probably played something the fellow didn't like, or we didn't play his song. I don't know what happened. But here come a big salt shaker sailing across the room and just barely missed Jack and me. I don't know whether it was meant for me or meant for Jack. Jack said, 'Whoever threw that salt shaker would he come up here and let me know?' A guy walked up to the bandstand. Jack hit him one time and knocked him to the floor. The guy came to in a little bit and went back to his seat and sat down. No more commotion after that. I didn't know at the time that Jack was already sick. He passed away that next year of Tuberculosis. He went out singing and swinging." Kenny was 19. Jack Guthrie was 32.
Over the decades Kenny entertained countless fans throughout Oklahoma and later, California, where he moved in 1956. He turned down several opportunities to go on the road with big name country entertainers like Hank Thompson and Wynn Stuart. Kenny loved country music, but there was one thing he loved even more - his family.
One time while playing in Vegas with Jack Reeves, Glen Cambell's cousin, Kenny returned home after only one week, and proclaimed he was never going on the road again. He said the fast life was not for him. Kenny preferred to play in smaller clubs near his home in Upland. During the week he worked as an electrician in the aerospace industry. On the weekends, he played fiery lead guitar at the local honky tonks and clubs with Jack Reeves and The All-Americans, and after that, with his long time singer and dear friend, Jerry Haney.
This year Kenny and his beautiful bride, Marysue, were celebrating 60 years together. Kenny loved to tell the story of how they met. "I thought she was the most beautiful girl in the world when I saw her singing in a choir. I asked a friend who she was and where she went to church. I changed my church and started going to her church. So the next Sunday, after church was over there were about six guys trying to talk to her and I thought, here's my chance. Of course I was playing in the band, the church band, which helped some. Being a musician that helped me out. It wasn't my good looks because I never had that. So the next Sunday, I walked up to her and said, 'How would you like to go out and get some ice cream.' And she said, 'Okay.' And six guys standing around said, 'What happened here? Who is this guy?' About six months later we got married."
Kenny always tears up and flashes his signature smile when he gets to the final part of the story. "We've had a very enjoyable life together. Seems like I've been married all my life. All my success I give to her."
Kenny counted himself one of the lucky ones. His grandson, Christopher, a fellow guitar picker and songwriter, asked him recently, "If you had it to do all over again, how would you do it?" Kenny immediately answered with a smile, "Oh, I'd do it the same. I wouldn't change a thing if I had it to do all over again. I'd do it the same."
(Kenny loved to make music and his music lives on. We invite you to explore this site as you listen to great Blues and Country Music, including Kenny playing banjo, guitar and piano, while his dear friend, Jerry Haney, sings, or while Kenny jams along with the likes of Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Junior Brown.
This Memorial website will remain forever as a place for friends and family to visit with our beloved Kenny. We can meet here and share a smile, a tear, or a song. There are so many great stories to tell about this beautiful man who touched us all.)
"Reading your words your Father seemed to be a wonderful and talented man. I am terribly sorry for your loss. As with my Mother, the pain and sorrow of her presence no longer on this earth will never go away, time just makes it easier to live with. Beyond forever in your heart and memories. Thank you for allowing me to get to know a little about your Father....BC Beyer"
The healing process continues. When I think of you now, tears are not the first emotion. I can smile more and laugh, thinking of how you used to play the piano with your nose or walk on your knees with your feet behind your neck. You were silly and miraculous, one of God's true wonders, so talented and charming, loving and devoted."
"Happy Birthday dear Kenneth!!! From my brother and I. We miss your hugs,but I know you are keeping an eye on us from heaven."
One year. One long, yet instantaneous year. I took flowers from my garden and planted them around your headstone. I feel your love and sweet strength around me always. This week, Mom gave me the biggest gift of all. She said, "Lynny, Daddy revered you." I hope to live my life worthy of your love."
"Daddy, be on the lookout for Ruby up there in heaven. She's up there to sing with you and Uncle Bud and Connie. We love you so much and when I look up and see a beautiful sky, I hear your sweet music and see your twinkling smile. Love, love, forever love, your Lynnie"
"I just wanted to say your memorial is beautiful. I pray God will continue to strengthen you. I hope you can also take comfort in Revelation 21:4: "[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more…the former things have passed away."""
"LaVonne wrote: Kenneth was such a good man and I miss him like crazy!!! My only consolation is that I know he is with Jesus and our dear Connie! God bless you for taking the time to write this precious article. You, Karen, Marysue and all of the family are so dear to me. Kenneth could not have had a sweeter and more loving family!! He was truly blessed!! I love you all so much!!""
"Merry Christmas, Daddy. This is our first Christmas without you. Today I was wrapping presents and I played your music. It was so beautiful. I laughed, cried and tapped my toe all at the same time. Tomorrow I will put the music online for all your family, friends and fans to hear. I love you. I miss you everyday. You were the best daddy a girl could have."
I miss you and I will always remember how warm and kind you were. I will always hold you in my heart and remember all the fun I had as a child spending time with you."
""From Judy Summers (Yandell) - Maysville Oklahoma (part 1)
So sorry to hear about my Great Uncle Kenneth's passing. My parents and family loved him so much. He will be greatly missed here from his family in Lindsay.""
"From Judy Summers (Yandell) Maysville, OK (part 2)
I'll always remember him coming to Grandma Cleo's house and all the family having quite the gathering and singing Gospel hymns. He always brought his guitar. Someone would always play Grandma's piano. My thoughts and prayer's will be with you all out there in California."
"republished from The Oklahoman Obituary website May 27
I'm sorry for your loss but what a brilliant remembrance! I'm an OKC native, and a country music (real country music) and stringed-instrument aficionado. Your retrospective of Kenneth's life is a treasure that reaches even beyond family and friends.
~ Ben Elder"
"(from the Oklahoman Obituary website May 27)
I didn't know Kenneth Montgomery, but what a life well lived and a beautiful obituary.
~ Floyd Martin, Jr.,Oklahoma City, Oklahoma"
"Happy Father's Day, Daddy. I am always with you. "Me you, me you.""
"His music is what I grew up with. I remember my Mom & Dad having folks over and playing records- we were country! and thanks to good music like this, it is my fav of country the good ole country-
I remember when u had folks call him on his Bday 2 yrs ago and Jamie called and had a very pleasant conversation with him- u r blessed to hv been so close to a legend!"
"rest in peace,"
"--------From Marie and Michael,
Your Dad had a big heart. It had to be to hold all the people he loved, and those who loved him. He will be truly missed."
"Tribute message from Michael Stinson,
I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I remember coming over to hear him play music at your house. There was so much love in the room that night. Michael"
"Love his music. A great Okie git picker. Can't wait to meet him in Heaven!"
"From Austin-------------- You always called me General when I was younger. Then you started calling me Admiral because I love the sea. I liked it when you came to stay with us in Santa Barbara. The jam sessions with Matt were great. I loved your stories, especially the one about the chickens you raised with Memaw and they were running through the house! I miss you. I love you, The Admiral"
"Ken, I liked you from the beginning. You were an artist with your music. We could communicate on that level. I enjoyed your craftsmanship. Your pianos were works of art. We shared a similar sense of humor, which is a big plus in a father in law! I see your smile and your eyes when I look at Lynn and the rest of your family. I think of you offten. You're very much alive in our household."
"----A memory from Rosa
Lynn, your Dad is in a better place now. He was a good man who many people loved. Someday you will see him again. I remember that last week he stayed with you. He was so happy, laughing, taking long walks. That time was a wonderful gift from God. Emos Perdido auna gran ombre amorroso!"
"From Dude Rawson, singer and fiddler in Ken's 1st band
-----------I played with a lot of guitar pickers in my life, but I rate Kenneth above all of them. Not just because he was my friend, I'm saying it because he was that good. And I am sure going to miss him. ---(to read more of Dude's memories, go to the "HIS LIFE" tab at top of page, scroll down to KENNY'S FIRST BAND.)"
Granddad, your name should have been - "Inspiration" because that is what you always gave to everyone. You always encouraged me in every way. We shared lots of funny stories that were our own little secrets. I love you and miss you every day. Love, Hannah."
""HAPPY BIRTHDAY" Uncle Kenneth! You are remembered with much Love and Great Memories. Jeannie"
"Happy Birthday Kenneth. I think of you often and always will. Rest in Peace....."
"Happy 84th Birthday Grand Dad. I am again too far away to attend the party but I know you guys are having fun without me. We will get together one of these days when my work here is through and then we will make up for lost time. I miss you and think of you often. Much Love, Your #1 grandson Lance"
"Ken, you will always be remembered by our family as a loving and caring daddy, father-in-law and grand dad. Our losses have been unbearable but we rest in the hope that we will re-unite in the presence of the God of the universe. Our love & prayers will be continually with Mary Sue & family. Sincerely, Don"
"I have know Ken Montgomery my friend , when the Davis Brothers, Joe Virgil And Charles played many years ago. When we needed a guitar player Ken was the first choice but sometimes he could"t make it and the second choice stepped in but Ken was always on our minds and in our hearts you will always be remembered. love Joe Davis"
"I have known Ken about 35 years, the first time I saw him I was walking down the rode by his home soon after that we both found out we both played guitars and we have been playing guitars all these years. I will miss picking guitar with my friend. Virgil Davis"
"When I met Kenneth , Ken, Virgil And Joe were playing music at dances. At the time I didn"t know I was meeting a brother. Kenny took me under his protective wing, Respect is what he insisted on. I will always Love him for the brother image he bestoled on me. Love You Kenny. Violet Davis"
"From Lavonne Carmikie Dear Marysue and Family:
I am so sorry I can't be there with you during Kenneth's funeral!! Please know that my heart and prayers are with you all!! Kenneth was a wonderful and loving man and will always stay alive in our hearts!! Anyone who ever met him, fell in love with him and his beautiful music!! No one will ever be able to play the guitar like him!!"
"Uncle Kenny, I loved your gentle spirit and country twang! Your music was part of you and added to your charm. I loved listening to you play. Thanks for being a wonderful uncle. Hope you're flying high with guitar in tow, charming the heavenly crowd now."
"My buddy has gone on to better things although I don't see how he could have it any better - He had the perfect life - a beautiful wife - four gorgeous daughters - and one helpful son. He also had his music room where he played every day. (Mary Sue loved this.) He will be missed. Shirley and Stan"
"Filled with sympathy and love to the entire family, friends and people whom Ken has touched throughout his time here on earth. We know that he now has a place to celebrate each and every day in Gods loving arms. Although he is gone the memories will live on in the hearts of all those who knew and loved him. We pray for a Spirit filled comfort to all. Love... Jill & Paul Jennings"
"I want to thank you, Uncle Kenny, for being such a wonderful inspiration for the love of music in my life. In all my growing up years I remember you sharing songs and playing your guitar (with my dad in tow...he loved that so much!) anytime we were together as a family, and that was pretty often in those "cousin" years. Your legacy and love continues on...here and in heaven."
"Aunt MarySue, Cousin Lynn and all my other Uncle Kenneth cousins, my heart and soul goes out to each and every one of you. Some day I wish we could all get together. MarySue was wonderful when I lost my Mother (India), her sister, and I wish I could be there for all of you too. Uncle Kenneth was a wonderful & loving man. I remember his musical talent & always singing for us. Love, Jeannie"
"Message From Robert Bell:
He was a special guy. He was very proud to be your dad. I loved to listen to him tell his family stories. It's hard now but joy will come later because of the parts of him that still exist in you."
"Message from Terrie Ann:
Love you all. My heart and prayers are with you."
"From Lara Shamas:
I am so sorry to hear this sad sad news. Our deepest condolences to you, Richard, Austin, Hannah, Neesie, and the rest of your family. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all."
"From the Burns family:
Lynn – we share in your sadness because Kenny was a delightful gentleman and musician. You showcased his talents at your home in a beautiful, gracious setting. You must know that he was so very proud of you."
"Message from Terrie Redding:
I am so sorry to hear that you lost your dad, I know how much you love him and how much you will miss him. Hope you and your family are all doing alright in spite of your loss... I think of you so often. Please give everyone a kiss, including you.
"Karen our thoughts and prayers are with all your family. We are so sorry for your loss. Love Val and Jerry miller"
"From Melanie Brewer:
Sorry, Lynn, for your loss. His independent and artistic spirit lives on in you-- And, yes, I am sure the angels are welcoming him to the biggest and best hootenanny up in heaven that there ever was."
"Message From Laurie Vance
My heart goes out to you .. I am sorry for your loss."
"Message From Margie Morrison
I'm so sorry and so sad about your dad. He was an incredible man The prime example of living life to its fullest. Sending lots of love. xoxo"
"Message From Michael Neff
I'm sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family"
"Message From Abby Saeg
Yes, we will always love our daddy's! He was great man."
"Message From Tammy Vodvarka
I am so sad to hear your Daddy passed away my dear friend. He wore a beautiful smile every time I saw him. This is how I will always remember him. I love you"
He has, and will always have a most infectious spirit and beautiful vibe about him. He was so much fun to hang out with and play music with... It is so true at what everyone is saying.. "The angels want to rock out with Ken" I just know it to be so!! My strength and big love goes out to you and the entire family."
"From Gene Bowen:
I loved your Dad and have the fondest memories of playing music with him. What a great soul he was in his boots and cool shirts and a hell of a good lead guitar player. I was always dosed with elation after our musical soirees together. My love and condolences to your family now that your dad is playing in the Angel Band."
"As Lynn's neighbors and friends, we were so very fortunate to have known you, Kenny. We will miss your quick smile, bright eyes and positive encouragement you gave William as you so lovingly included him in your musical jam sessions. We are forever grateful for having known you and three generations on Constance Avenue are saddened by your passing. Gloria, Bruce, Siana, William and Vince"
"My dearest Kenny,
I love you like my own father, and you always treated me as one of your own. I will never foget your amazing talent, wit, and all the laughs we shared. I am truly blessed to have had you in my life. MarySue, Craig, Lynnie, Karen, Denise and all, my heart aches for your sadness and grief. We have all lost a treasure."
"Karen and Montgomery family,
So sorry to hear about Kenny. I always remember how proud Karen was of her Daddy and how much she loved him. May your memories of him help comfort you. You're all in my thoughts at this difficult time.
"As neighbors to his grandchildren Austin & Hannah, Kenny always welcomed us like family. Going over to Lynn's when Kenny and Marie Sue were there became a party with non-stop rockabilly music by Kenny. He encouraged our son's guitar ambitions by including him in impromptu duets. Kenny was a master musician whose fingers could recreate requested songs in a singer's choice of key."
"Dear Ken, you lit up many lives and I was one who had the pleasure to know you. It was the little things you did that made everyone smile, and you always did it with a smile. You graced us with your piano and your special made corn beef hash. You will always be remembered.
Love the Park family"
"Oh Karen. Your dad was such a gentle soul. I remember spending the night with you (on 6th St.) many, many times, and he was always such a happy man. My love to you and your family."
You were the best father in law "EVER" I'll miss you every day and will always remember your love and smiles. Your inspiration for me to take out my sax and play songs with you won't be forgotten. I promise to play more often and will always think of you when I do."
"I recently visited an art gallery where there was a fabulous electric guitar that truly was an art object on exhibition. The moment I laid eyes on that gem, thoughts of Kenny came rushing into my mind and how he would have enjoyed looking at that instrument, talking to the artist about it, and perhaps giving it a twang or two. My sincere sympathy to you all -- love, Mumsey"
"Lynn my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time. You are loved, and you are not alone. Ever. Love, Julie"
"Thursday April 5th from Upland: My Dad, 84 this month is taking life's journey to Heaven today. I think God needs him to teach the angels how to love, even moreso. We'll miss Dad's precious smile and all he did each and every day. Our hearts are so sad, but this we know: When God calls, you have to go.........perhaps He also needed a new lead guitar player. I just don't know, I believe so."
My love of quality Country Western Music comes from hearing the music through your "guitar." Joyous family gatherings from childhood to adulthood; I always looked forward to the music. You were dearly loved and I will miss you.
"I love you, Daddy. So many people love you. Your music, your smile and your gentle country elegance will grace us every day. Thank you for blessing my life."
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