Longtime Houston musician "Mean" Gene Kelton, whose band the Die Hards has been a fixture at biker rallies and ice houses around the area for almost 20 years, was killed in a car accident Tuesday evening. The following update was posted on Kelton's Facebook page:
To my friends and fans of Mean Gene Kelton: Gene was involved in an accident in Crosby late Tuesday evening, and did not survive. Pleae keep us in your thoughts and prayers, especially his children and his mother, Helen.
According to abc13.com, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said Kelton was driving his SUV on F.M. 2100 at Tall Cedars road when he swerved to avoid a stalled car and struck a school bus full of students head-on.
Kelton, who was the only person in the SUV, was killed instantly. Several students and the bus driver, who were returning from a 9th-grade basketball game in Liberty, were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
A native of Mississippi, Kelton (whose given name was Sidney), formed the Die Hards in 1992, singing lead vocals and playing guitar and harmonica. The band's blend of blues, Southern rock and rockabilly was an instant hit on the biker circuit, and the Die Hards appeared alongside Lynyrd Skynyrd, David Allan Coe, the Marshall Tucker Band and Omar & the Howlers, among many others.
Their song "My Baby Don't Wear No Panties" became especially popular across the region via the TouchTunes Music Corporation, which distributes music to digital jukeboxes. According to Kelton's Web site, Kelton's music was available on 16,000 jukeboxes nationwide, and "Panties" went to No. 1 eight times.
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Kelton also starred in the 2009 independent movie Marfa Red, which was later renamed The Passage. His book, Gigs From Hell, just shipped last month. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
Bright lights, facing the crowd, you'll bare your soul to the critics, hecklers, assholes, groupies and worshippers. You'll know the hopelessness of chasing your dream like a hobo chasing a freight train.
You'll feel victorious from conquering the neon world with nothing but a song and a guitar, and then the loneliness of a cheap motel after a show.
The Die Hards were scheduled to play at Rooster's Steak House in Baytown Thursday night and a daytime show at Rowdy Bucks Saloon in Crosby on New Year's Eve.
Besides his mother and children, Kelton is survived by his wife Joni. A Facebook memorial page has been set up for Kelton here.