Wednesday, 20 February 2013 16:58

Jimmy Lee Kennett

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As some of you may know, the St. Louis favorite Jimmy Lee Kennett was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and a benefit concert to diffuse hospital costs was held that summer. At the time, I had no idea who Jimmy was but I went because the line-up of bands was beyond impressive.

I arrived at the gig with camera in hand and was greeted by the largest crowd of people I had seen in ages. The place was packed from wall to wall! People were having the best time though, listening to some killer tunes and all to help out their friend. It was a long day, and Jimmy was constantly surrounded by people all wanting to pay their respects and wish him the best. I knew that I wanted to introduce myself to him but I had NO idea what to say to the guy! How do you start a conversation with the most popular guy in the room?
There was an upper level of seats at the venue that were next to the stage and when you sat there, you were level with the stage. Since the place had more people inside than the Fire Department would probably have approved of, I figured I could get a great view of the stage if I sat on the railing to this upper level and shot from there. It was probably seven or eight feet off the ground. I had some big friends help me clamber up to the railing (actually they just picked me up and set me there), and then they waited for me by my dangling feet. Turns out, this upper level is where Jimmy and his “crew” were sitting as well. I think I shot a whole band while I was sitting there, but then my friends decided it was time to move elsewhere. Jimmy was sitting a few seats from my perch and I knew it was my one and only chance to say anything to him. It was in-between songs, incredibly loud from applause, and my friends each had a hand on my feet so they could bring me down. As they were pulling me one way I leaned back over to Jimmy and in the midst of all this chaos, I held out my hand. He shook it and I said, “You have some amazing friends.” His eyes lit up and he smiled that sweet smile. He gratefully and humbly took my hand in both of his and said, “Thank you, I know.” With that, my buddies pulled me off the railing and we were once again in the throes of fighting the huge crowd.
When I took this picture of Jimmy Lee a few months later, he was thanking the audience at the SRV concert. I thought, “this is him, this is Jimmy”. The most humble man, always thankful for his fans and his friends.


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