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May 17, 2016
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Here is my online conversation with one of y dad's favorite singers - the great, Cajun, Grammy Award winning, Jo-El Sonnier: 

Dear Joel,

My Dad died 3 years ago. Kenny Montgomery was 83 and grew up picking cotton and broomcorn on a farm in Oklahoma. His daddy was a preacher. When Kenny was 5 he picked up a guitar and started playing along with the choir. His Papa fell to his knees and said, "Thank you Lord, we will use this gift to spread your word." From then on whenever Papa preached, Kenny played lead. But always, in his mind's eye, this wasn't a poor tent revival he was playing to - it was an adoring crowd at the Louisiana Hayride!

Kenny never made it to the Hayride or the Opry, but in our hearts he was a legend. I loved my dad. I loved his stories and his music. One of my my favorite times was sitting with him in his little back bedroom that he called his "music room." He'd turn on Pandora and say, "Now, I'm going to play along with some friends of mine."

The last year of his life, I started recording these little "sessions" on my iPhone camera. We'd talk, laugh and cry, but mostly I'd listen to the hero of my life do what he loved doing most - playing the guitar, making music, making memories.

I live in Santa Barbara. Every year we have a film festival in January. For this year's festival I want to put together a short documentary honoring my dad and his music. The last words he spoke were a chant to my mom, the love of his life. He whispered "me you, me you, me you. That's what they always said to each other. But before the end, when he could still get out a whole sentence, he motioned Marysue to his side and said, "Honey, don't sell my guitars."

That's the title of my film. My Dad loved Lefty Frizzell. He especially loved your take on Lefty. One of his favorite songs is your "I Want to Be With You Always." I would love to include this song in my film. There's a touching scene where "Always" comes on Pandora. He introduces you and starts playing, then at the end of the song he says, "I like this guy."

May I have permission to include your song in the short documentary? I'm not sure how these things work and if I need to get permission from Lefty's estate as well. Nor do I know how much this usually costs. So any guidance would be much appreciated. Have you ever performed in Santa Barbara? We have some terrific venues here. The "Sings Like Hell" series at The Lobero Theatre is outstanding and of course there's The Santa Barbara Bowl. I'm getting ahead of myself here - but in a perfect world - we include your "Always" in the short doc, then when the film premiers in January, you come out to Santa Barbara, perform at the Lobero, and I include that in the future 1 hour documentary where, in a sense, Kenny really does get to play with some "friends of his." PS I was blown away by your performance on "True Detective." Any other TV performances coming up? Thank you for your time and for sharing your talent with the world. Sincerely, Lynn Montgomery  
Dear Lynn,

Wow, what a great story. My recording of the song belongs to Mercury records and they would be the one to give you a license to use the song. I don't have anything to do with that part of the business because I don't own the rights to the recording. I would love to see the film when it comes out. I bet I would have loved your father, he sounds like my kind of guy.   Dear Jo-El, 

Thank you so much for getting back to me! Yeah he was a great guy. Would have been his dream to play with you. I will contact Mercury. Any plans for a Santa Barbara tour? We'd love to see you perform. I even have a beach house you and your wife could stay in to sweeten up the deal. I'll keep you up to date on the project. My dad loved your music. Now I do too, just another gift he bestowed on me! Do you have any tips on how best to approach Mercury about the song license? How much do songs cost to use in this fashion? Thank you Now I have to call My mom and tell her you wrote right back! Lynn   

I have no idea about the charge but I doubt it's very much because it's such an old song. Just ask for someone in the license department and they will help you out. I'd love to come perform in Santa Barbara if I could get booked there. What did you do with your dads guitars? They had to have really meant the world to him.   Hi Jo-El,   We still have all 18 of his guitars - including the very first one he ever owned when he was 12. The guitar he played at the revivals starting when he was 5 was a borrowed guitar. Kenny got his first own guitar at 12 and kept it all those years - hanging on the wall of his music room - it is still there. Here is a link to the memorial site I made for him. Your song is playing.   Kenneth Montgomery (1928 - 2012) - This online memorial is dedicated to Kenneth Montgomery. It is a place to celebrate his life with photos, stories, music and more.  
Dear Lynn,

Wow, I am truly honored and humbled. I would have loved to have met this man. And when my time on earth is over and I get to heaven, he will be one of the first people I look for. I would love to have sat and picked with him. Treasure his legacy and his guitars, I sure would . Unfortunately my father didn't play guitar and he was very poor so he didn't leave me any instruments to remember him by. You are very lucky to have pieces of him still with you. If he loved his guitars the way I love my accordions and my guitars, they were like his children and should be treated with utmost respect and love.   Dear Jo-El,

Thank you. They will be. I am sure your children will love and honor your accordions and guitars, but first you have about 40 more years to make music with them!! I hope and pray this is true. May I use your quote about this in my film?  

Sure you can. I only have one son, we lost our oldest son in 2000 at the age of 21. But he loved my instruments and understands the importance of them so I think they will be in good hands when I can no longer use them. I'd love to think I have another 40 years but 10-15 is more realistic if I'm lucky. One thing I know for sure, life's too short, no matter how long you live.   Jo-El,

Amen. I am sorry about your son. There is no place to put that kind of grief - just one day you realize the first feeling you have when you think of them is a small smile rather than a ready tear. My dad always thought he'd live to 100 even though he lived with half a heart since he was 60. In the end his heart was the last to go - his Doctor said his heart had made so many new connections on the back side where they couldn't see - and that is what had kept him going so long. Amazing thing - the heart. It keeps on growing in ways we can't see.  

11/02/2015 10:30PM

I senta note to my friend Peggy Jones who books the Sings Like Hell Series at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. She would love to talk with you about booking a show. Here's a link to their site:   We've been going to the series for years and have seen great shows from people like Greg Brown, Lucinda Williams, John Hiatt, Randy Newman, Tracy Chapman, Rufus Wainwright. When I mentioned you to Peggy, she quickly emailed back and said - "I'm in!" This years film festival is Febr 3-13. It would be great to coordinate Sings Like Hell with the film festival.  

11/03/2015 5:00PM

Hi Jo-El, I've been working on the music licensing today for "I Want To Be With You Always." It's on your "LA Sessions" album and it has Sonnier International listed as the Publisher. Does that mean your company holds the rights to the recording? I didn't have any luck yet getting through to the right person at Mercury but the 3 people I spoke with didn't think they could help me. I'm on to person #4 tomorrow! I contacted BMI about the songwriting. I was told by filmmaking friends that clearing music is not easy. I hope it's easier for musicians when you want to perform or record someone else's song. Any thoughts about "Sings Like Hell?'   Well it looks like you are correct, I do own the rights to that recording but the publishing does belong to Lefty. So I can give you permission to use the song. I'll need to check with my publishing people to see about the license fee. I don't handle that part of the business. I will have my agent contact the lady about the venue you sent me. Thanks for the tip on it.   Thank you for your help.  

11/05/2015 9:23AM

Hi Jo-El, First, I want to tell you how much I love your new song "Healing Song." It made me cry - so beautiful and powerful - and all the musicians - what a treasure to get them all together! My husband and I watched the video several times. I went to the Arcadiana Foundation site to make a contribution. Is there a particular charity you recommend or is a general donation best? Your work in putting all that together reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead. Great news on the licensing front: I got in touch with Peermusic who owns the publishing on Lefty's song and they gave me permission to use it for just $250 a year. Let me know when you find out the fee for licensing the performance. I'm very excited about this project and your generosity of time and spirit and your heartfelt connection to my Daddy have inspired me. Love, Lynn
January 31, 2014

One in a million.

September 16, 2012

 I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to meet this wonderful person. I remember every time he used to come to his daughter, Lynn's house, he was the nicest guy ever. Kenneth was very loving with me and my brother. He always gave us really good advice. Unfortunately he can't give me those advices any more BUT since he is another star in the sky he is guiding me and sending me those warm hugs that he used to give me with the light of that brighter star.Thank you God for giving us the opportunity to meet this special person......ONE IN A MILLION! We are going to miss you.

Daddy gets down with Junior Brown. Great Blues picking.

August 30, 2012

New video of Daddy picking the blues.
This was a wonderful day in Daddy's music room. I think it was Thanksgiving. And if it wasn't it sure felt like it - surrounded by the people he loved, Daddy strapped on his favorite guitar, turned on Pandora and starting picking along with the first song that came up. It was "Stupid Blues" by Junior Brown. Every day was Thanksgiving in Daddy's music room. How blessed we were to be treated to these impromptu outpourings of love and music. For the last two years, I always had my iPhone ready to capture the magic. We will cherish these days forever. 

The Blues video is the second one on the channel. The first is the 10 minute Memorial Video.
(Just above the Youtube screen it says 2 videos - click that for Junior Brown. Remember to turn off sound on ForeverMissed site so you can hear Youtube)

Click here to watch Memorial Video.  

Memorial Video

August 30, 2012

 Join us for 10 minutes of love, laughter and music.

Before clicking the link below, please turn down the sound on this site, so it doesn't interfere with the audio on the You Tube video.  Go to very top of  this page and click word "sound" next to speaker icon but remember to turn sound back on, when you return to Forevermissed so you can hear more great, old time country music.
Click here to watch Memorial Video. 


August 15, 2012

My husband and I live in NY, we just celebrated out 5th year anniversary. Looking at this picture just inspired me.  This couple married 60 years or so I believe.  I stumbled upon this website and it just gave me so much joy.  Looking at Mr. Montgomery and his family moved me.  What a happy and blessed family!  I am sorry for your lost, but his heart is with you and his music is simple a sweet pleasure to my ears. We bury my aunt this morning.  I needed to be uplifted.  
T. Ndip

I Am Always With you

June 5, 2012

When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You mustn't tie yourself to me with too many tears,
But be thankful we had so many good years.

I gave you my love, and you can only guess
How much you've given me in happiness.
I thank you for the love that you have shown,
But now it is time I traveled on alone.

So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust
That it is only for a while that we must part,
So treasure the memories within your heart.

I won't be far away for life goes on.
And if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can't see or touch me, I will be near
And if you listen with your heart, you'll hear
All my love around you soft and clear

And then, when you come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile and a "Welcome Home".

May 21, 2012

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, 
That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak to me in the easy way
which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed
at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word
that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect.
Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same that it ever was.
There is absolute unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind
because I am out of sight? 

I am but waiting for you.
For an interval.
Somewhere. Very near.
Just around the corner.

All is well. 
Henry Scott Holland      

Martha's Poem for Kenny

May 21, 2012

Presented by Martha Bell at Kenneth's memorial service April 20th, 2012: 


Weep not for me though I am gone

Into that gentle night.
Grieve if you will,
But not for long.
Upon my souls sweet flight,
I am at peace,
My souls at rest.
There is no need for tears.
For with your love I was so blessed
For all those many years.
There is no pain, I suffer not
The fear now is all gone.
Put now these things out of your thoughts,
In your memory I live on,
Remember not my fight for breath,
Remember not the strife.
Please do not dwell upon my death,
but celebrate my life.     - Anonymous

May 21, 2012

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 Stratacaster. He said it kept him young. One minute he was juicing the blues on his Stratacaster, 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. According to legendary guitarist Merle Travis, "Western swing is nothing more than a group of talented country boys, unschooled in music, but playing the music they feel, beating a solid two-four rhythm to the harmonies that buzz around their brains. When it escapes in all its musical glory, my friend, you have Western swing." 

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 33. 

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 small clubs near his home in Upland. During the week he worked as an electrician in the aerospace industry. On the weekends he played the local honky tonks and clubs 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 as 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." 

Thank you to all the music playing and loving friends in Guthrie, Santa Barbara and Upland who celebrated every Kenny Montgomery command performance. From living rooms to barrooms, we watched in awe and jubilation as his fingers danced across the frets. He is missed and loved, but his music lives on. Thank you to Martha Bell for spiritual guidance and kind ministrations. Thank you to Jerry Haney for 40 years of great music. 

Kenneth is preceded in death by his beloved parents, John and Ollie Montgomery of Lindsay OK; sister, Cleo Yandell of Lindsay, OK; brother, James Montgomery of Pauls Valley, OK; daughter, Connie Benton of Guthrie OK.

He is survived by his cherished wife of 60 years, Marysue Montgomery of Upland, CA; son, Craig Montgomery of Upland, CA; daughters, Lynn Montgomery of Santa Barbara, CA; Karen Montgomery Sorosky of Upland, CA; Denise Montgomery of Santa Barbara, CA. Sons In laws, Robert Sorosky M.D. Upland, CA; Richard Kriegler Santa Barbara, CA; Don Benton Guthrie, OK. Grandchildren, Lance (Felicia) Benton; Ryan (Amy) Benton; Eric Hardin; Christopher Montgomery; Austin Kriegler; Hannah Kriegler. Great Grandchildren, Jackson Benton; Lauren Benton; Chrissy Benton. Step Grandchildren, Drs. Brad & Susan Sorosky; Melissa Montgomery. 

And all his many, many, many beloved family and friends do miss him so.

Published in Inland Valley Daily Bulletin from April 18 to April 22, 2012 ^

May 21, 2012

Presented by Martha Bell at Kenneth's Memorial Service, April 20, 2012


I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend.
He told of the dates on his tombstone
From the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came his date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears.
But said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
That he spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved him
Know what that small line is worth.
It matters not how much we own,
The cars, the house, the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
And how we spend our dash.
So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know what time is left,
That can still be rearranged
If we could just slow down enough
To consider what's true and real,
And always try to understand
The way that people feel.
And be less quick to anger,
And show appreciation more,
And love the people in our lives
Like we've never loved before.
We could treat each other with respect,
And more often wear a smile,
Remembering that this special dash
Might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy's being read
With your life's actions to rehash
Will you be proud of the things they said
About how you spent your dash?     

A Sonnet From Hannah to Granddad

May 21, 2012
Granddad's cornbread on a warm summer night
It came sweet and natural when you played
Your music flowed to the beat like a kite
We bought guitar picks in the color jade  

Your special color was blue like your eyes
You blessed my life with your inspiration
Your cowboy boots will someday be my size.
You took a walk and smiled when you were done.   

Every minute, I would say, "I love you."
Every second, you would say, "You love me."
Forever, you would hold me to you, too.
Family, heart, music, will always be  
Where I sing and where I dance and feel new
Where I go when I need to be with you.

Good times

April 20, 2012

 I did not get to spend a lot of time with Ken since i live in Oklahoma and he in California.  I met him because he lived across the street from my son Steve.  We found we had a commom interest in music and had several times together playing the piano and guitar and singing together.  I will surely miss him the next time I come to Califoria.  He had become a good friend and it is not fun telling good friends goodby.  Mrs. Montgomery, my sympathy is with you, there will be great adjustments but his memory will help you make them.

Ken Leonard

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma       

Our Meeting

April 16, 2012

When Kenny first met my twin sisters he told me he was looking for a wife. Mary Sue was the quiet one so he chose her. They met in a small church around the corner from our family home. They (the twins) made a splash when they joined that church according to Kenny.

When I first met Kenny, he gave me a big hug and whispered in my ear, "You're the best looking one here." I knew he said this to all the women, so I just smiled at him and he knew I was aware of his greeting to us all. Kenny will be missed.  Shirley G.

The first meeting

April 12, 2012
Larry and I (Connie), first met the California Family as a result of Lance Benton marrying our Daughter Felicia. We were charmed by all of this beautiful family but upon meeting Kenneth, we felt as if we had reunioned with an old friend. He posessed this gentle, loving and joyful spirit that spoke for him, with just a smile and his laughing eyes. Little did we know that he was this great and accomplished man . It seemed he did everything with love and humility with an extended hand for you to join him in his world of laughter, music,song and joy. He was a great conversationalist and a wonderful listener as well, invested in every word, his eyes greeting yours. He made everyone feel comfortable and valued. It was evident that Ken loved his family more than any treasure he possessed and knowing him was a privilege. To MarySue, Craig, Lynn, Denise, Karen and their families, we share your grief. This world will never be quite the same. God bless you and provide you with " His peace, that surpasses understanding" and comfort for your every day.

An Honor...

April 12, 2012

Kenneth, you made a great impact on my life.  It was truly an honor to know you and even more to have you as my Son's Grand Dad.  Thank you for being the music inspiration (and much, much more) to my son, your Grandson....

The Angel Band

April 10, 2012

This is 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. He took such pride in his ability to play authentic country licks the way they are supposed to sound. I was always dosed with elation after our musical soirees together. My love and condolences to you and all of your family now that your Dad is playing in the Angel Band.

(Click on Photo) Four Generations of Montgomery Sons ....And More To Come...

April 10, 2012

Kenneth, a PERFECT son as one could be to his father, John......

Kenneth, a GREAT father and inspiring guide to his son, Craig.....

Kenneth, an indefatigable LOVING grand-dad to his grand-son, Christopher.....

Remembering they are not dead,
Who leave us this great heritage of remembering joy.

They still live in our hearts,
In the happiness we knew, in the dreams we shared.

They still breathe,
In the lingering fragrance,windblown, from their favourite flowers.

They still smile in the moonlight’s silver,
And laugh in the sunlight’s sparking gold.

 They still speak in the echoes of the words we’ve heard them say again and again.

They still move,
In the rhythm of waving grasses, in the dance of the tossing branches.

They are not dead;
Their memory is warm in our hearts, comfort in our sorrow.

They are not apart from us, but part of us,
 For love is eternal,

And those we love shall be with us throughout all eternity.


Braums Memories

April 10, 2012

Grand Dad, this morning I was thinking of you as I went to our favorite Oklahoma  hang out, Braum’s.  Yes, I ordered our favorite Okie breakfast, biscuit and gravy.   I felt a little guilty ordering that high carb breakfast but it was sure good with a cup of coffee.   As I sat there I began to remember all the ice cream cones we enjoyed together.  I’m sure Mary Sue knew what we were up to but we kept our sins to ourselves.  We would just have to walk an extra mile to make up for our extra calories.  I laughed about the time you finished your cone and went back up and got in line to order another.  When we asked what you were doing you told us “that the lady told me to come again and that is just what you had in mind. “  That was the funniest thing your grandkids had ever seen.

 I felt like you were there with me this morning and then something happened that made me sure you were.  A woman came up and asked me if I was Vince Gill?  I gave her a smile and told her no but thank you for the compliment.  When she walked away I thought to myself, I sure must be good looking setting here with my dark Grand Dad hair and sun glassed on.  Then the more I thought about it, Vince Gill has really put on some serious weight the last few years.  Did she think I was the fat Vince Gill?  I better lay off the gravy and ice cream for a couple weeks.   I miss you Grand Daddy and love all the good memories we got to share together.   Much Love, Lance

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