In Memory

Kevin McKernan

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08/16/19 07:41 PM #1    

Kurt Smith

I recently came across an article (link below) which talks about the Palo Alto music scene in the late 70’s and mentions Kevin and the band he was in, Osiris, as well as several other Paly grads. It’s a very interesting article and the comments at the end even more so. I was surprised to read that Kevin went to Crescent Park Elementary, I did as well but don’t recall him. It appears that Kevin and his brother “Pigpen” of the Grateful Dead both died of a Congenital Autoimmune Disease. Kevin died 3/1/1993 at age 37.

Reading the article reminded me of our brief friendship, I believe the summer of 1970. I met Kevin at the bay lands dirt track behind Gus Mozart. I didn’t have my driver license yet so my parents made me push my motorcycle the 2 miles to the dirt track and back (well, most of the way). We both rode the same brand of motorcycle (BSA) and perhaps that’s why we connected. While mine was modest 250, Kevin was riding a 650 which was a large and heavy street bike not well suited to ride on the dirt but that didn’t seem to slow him down any. After riding for couple hours we would get very thirsty and go to Kevin’s house to get something to drink as his house was much closer to the dirt track than mine – just the other side of Bayshore off of Oregon Expressway. I remember sitting on his porch drinking lemon aid, talking about motorcycles while his brother’s band practiced in their garage around the corner. It wasn’t until years later I realized who that band was. Kevin was a big guy and always seemed to be wearing black head to toe and appeared a bit intimidating. But in my experience he had a slightly gruff but soft spoken voice and was always very warm and friendly to me and I enjoyed our time together. When that summer ended and school started back up, we each went back to our routines and didn’t connect after that.

08/17/19 12:16 PM #2    

Bill Strubbe

Hi Kurt.....thanks for posting the interesting article. I remember very little about Kevin, except that I was a bit intimidated by him and that at Jordan he wore shoes that we called stomper boots; boots with steel tip toes. And Kevin definitely did not go to Crescent Park; that must be a mistake. 

08/18/19 12:52 PM #3    

Diane Helms

Kevin went to Garland as that is where I went to elementary school. I always felt bad for him as he was constantly being picked on by classmates due to his size. 

08/18/19 03:08 PM #4    

Gretta Siegel

I knew Kevin, though not until high school. And I knew his band, Osiris - trying to remember who else was in it. Maybe Kevin Moore? Maybe Alan Day? They opened once for the Garcia/Saunders band and I did photography that night and have some pics, somewhere....  A couple of years ago I came across a poster for the show that night - it was I think at a small college gym in SF.  And yes, I remember being intimidated by those heavy duty black boots but he was basically a nice guy. While the first post says otherwise, my recollection was that Pigpen died of cirrhosis of the liver.

08/22/19 04:04 PM #5    

Robert Rice

Kevin and I were friends from 1st through 6th grade and spent alot of time at his house, fishing at the yacht harbor, riding dirt bikes (with Ned Cotherman) on the baylands, as well as shooting BB guns there too.

Music was always on the radio at the Mckernan house, never TV.  His father was a Vacuum Tube Engineer at Stanford and also DJ'd periodically on a Blues station out of Oakland. His record collection was massive.

Diane is correct, we went to Garland, Jordan, and Paly together! I think Diane and Kevin were in every one of my class pictures. Kevin was picked on for being chubby, I was chubby too, thus the friendship.

The one and only time the Grateful Dead played at an El Camino Park Be-In, Kevin and I spent all day back-stage. A priceless experience to say the least, we were 12 years old!

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