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  Mean Gene Kelton
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Band On The Run

Our feature for this month's edition of Band On The Run is none other than Houston's #1 blues/rock biker rally band: Mean Gene Kelton & the Die Hards. As most of the Texas biker community already know, Mean Gene is most famous for his song, "My Baby Don't Wear No Panties". Fact is, six songs from Kelton's first CD, Most Requested, went #1 on various internet music charts and sold over 700,000 downloads worldwide. His second CD, Mean Guitar, recently released is off and running. With nationwide radio airplay and worldwide internet visibility since 2000, Kelton gets calls to perform (and often headline) at blues festivals and bike rallies around the country.

With their high energy show and volatile mixture of houserockin' Texas Blues and Southern fried Rock n' Roll, this band is one of the most popular biker rally bands around. Whenever they are not performing on the road they can usually be found stomping out some gut-bucket blues at Houston area juke joint just to keep their chops up.

I caught up with Mean Gene Kelton & the Die Hards recently at a Sunday afternoon show at one of the top biker watering holes on the east side of Houston, The Gully in Crosby, Texas. The placed was packed! I have heard a lot of bands in my time and figured I would stop in, grab a cold one and see what the fuss was all about. I was perpared to not be impressed but... Damn!!! This guy can really swing an ax! Mean Gene Kelton's razor sharp guitar guitar can cut a chord of firewood and stack it for you while you wait! I could not help but wonder why is this guy here in this little honky tonk in Crosby Texas? He should be in the bigtime along with ZZ Top, Skynyrd and Delbert McClinton where he belongs? But then I have to keep reminding myself, this is Texas where we have superstar quality acts in even our most humble of establishments. You can't beat the talent we have right here in the Lone Star State.

In between the sets, Mean Gene was swamped signing autographs on CDs, t-shirts and various exposed female body parts. I managed to get a few minutes with Mean Gene after his show for a short interview.

FULL THROTTLE - How long have you been playing music?

MEAN GENE KELTON - Do you remember that part in the Bible about Noahs Ark?

FT - Uh... Yeah?

MGK - I was the lounge act on that boat. (all laughing) Just kiddin'. I started playing guitar when I was ten years old but I have been a fulltime musician since 1983.

FT - Is music all you do? Do yout have a day job? Have you ever worked a day job?

MGK - "Oh yeah. I worked plenty of day jobs: oil field roughneck, carpenter, truck driver, rigged steel. When I realized I had a knack for sales, I sold everything from vacumn cleaners to cemetary property. In 1983, I got laid off my day job. I could not find another job anywherein those days. I took my guitar out of the closet, dusted it off and started hitting bars playing for tips to try to support my wife and two young sons. It wasn't much money but it helped eek out a basic existence at the time. Before I knew it, I developed a strong local following. Club owners started paying me a salary to hang around. Twenty years, two successful CDs and 5000 gigs later, I am still here. I tell people that I am a 50 year-old-teenager living my life's dream of playin' the blues for a livin'."

FT - Who influenced you to become a musician?

MGK - I was influenced by every musician that ever made a sound that put chills on my arms and made me stop in my tracks and wish that I could do that. Regardless of the insturment, if they could make it scream, I was influenced. Blues, rock, country, zydeco... don't care, I love it all. I am originally from the Mississippi Delta and was deeply influenced by the blues I heard the old black men playing on the street corners there when I was a kid. I caught the blues fever back then and was baptized by Sweet Mother Blues. Today, my music is a mixture of all my influences. From B.B. to ZZ.

FT - B.B. to ZZ. I like that. Alot of bikers like it too. You have become a pretty hot item at bike rallies. I see you headlining bike rallies all over the United States. How did you go from playing for tips to headlining bike rallies?

MGK - By just being me. I literally have a blast. When I'm bending a string 'till it screams bloody mercy... It is the same feeling bikers get on an open stretch of highway at a hundred miles per hour. I want them to feel what I feel and to have just as much fun as I do when they come to see the band. If people are having fun, it is contagious... word spreads... and more people show up next time wanting to be a part of a fun experience. Our CDs have really made the rounds the past couple of years and people hear us on someone's jambox at a rally or on the radio and look us up on the internet. One thing leads to another.

FT - I can dig that. Your song "My Baby Don't Wear No Panties" was a hit for you on the Blues/rock charts and has become your anthem at bike rallies. How did you come to write such a song and why do you think it is so popular with bikers?

MGK -The song has a hip-grinding, hard driving, seductive blues beat with suggestive lyrics and all the women seem to want to bump and grind to it. I wrote that song based on an experience I had playin' at a biker bar in 1988 when a girl got naked and danced on the table. We get a lot of panties thrown at us because of that song. All kinds of panties, from bandaid size to car covers. If anyone wants to read what experiences spawned all those crazy songs on my CDs, they can visit the lyrics page at my website. They can also order our CDs and t-shirts and sign up to be on our email list while they are there. Or just take a look around. It don't cost nuthin' to look.

FT - Man, your band is tight. You have a kickass rhythm section and ya'll hammer down like a well-oiled machine. Tell me about your band and how did you get the name Die Hards?

MGK - Thanks. We got the name Die Hards back in 1992 when we would accept gigs that no other band would play. The general public started calling us Die Hards and the name stuck. Our drummer is Curtis Craig, aka Dr. C.C. has been a professional drummer since he started performing with his Dad's band when he was five years old. He is a true road warrior and sings great harmony vocals. Rick Maxwell, aka King Biscuit, is our bass guitar player. He is a dyed in the wool swamp rocker from Port Nechez, Texas. He has worked with everbody from Rockin' Sidney to Percy Sledge. I could not ask for better guys in a band.

FT - Tell me about the girl. Monica Marie. When I heard that you now had a girl singer in the band, I really had my doubts. But then I heard her sing. Man, this Babe's got pipes! When she started singing, my jaws literally dropped to the floor and I stopped dead in my tracks. She blew me away! Where did you find her?

MGK - Monica Marie and her lead guitar playing husband Tony Lee have their own band: Monica Marie and the Blues Cruizers. They have one CD released called Labor Of Love and won the Houston Blues Society #1 Blues Band in Houston Award in 2002. While their band is temporarily on an extended break from touring, I asked Monica to do some shows with us. Monica Marie is a dynamic, little blues bombshell with a soulful voice that belies her petite frame. She is of the same star quality as Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi. When she does her versions of Tina Turner and Janis Joplin hits... people go wild! Standing ovations and screamin' and cryin' and all that. It is an honor for us to be able to work with her. She will be with us on an occasional basis for the next few months.

FT - Wow! Yeah, I know. I saw it happen. Hell! It happed to me! She started singing and I start yellin! You guys rock! We here at Full Throttle Magazine wish you guys much well derserved success. How can people get a hold of you to book you?

MGK - For bookings, interviews, merchandise, etc... email me at or just call me: 713-866-4872. It's that easy. We can be bought.

FT - Oh yeah, one other thing, why do they call you Mean Gene? I thought you were gonna be some 350 pound sumo- wrestler. You don't seem so mean, are you bi-polar or something? Been in prison? What's up with the name?

MGK - They call me Mean Gene 'cause they say I play a Mean Guitar. Ya'll come see us now, ya hear.


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© 2006
Gene Kelton