|Born on: 20.10.1953
Died on: 07.01.2011
Phil Kennemore's first band consisted of five guys; the only problem was that nobody could play. Phil says he didn't even know what a bass was-he just knew he wanted to play. Since everyone in that first band played guitar, Phil took two strings off his guitar and decided to be a bass player.
At around age thirteen, Phil bought a St. George guitar at a pawn shop for $35 and a sparkly carrying case for $45. The first song he ever learned to play was Gloria by Them. The very first bass he bought was a no-name bass (Winston?); it was as warped as a Jai Alai racket and cost a mere $5. Phil continued playing (yet he still wasn't sure what a bass player's role was). "I would just follow the guitar players. If they were on the third dot, I went to the third dot." The first song Phil learned that really had bass lines in it was Monterey by Eric Burdon and the Animals. Next, he learned Crossroads by Cream-Jack Bruce's bass lines (all bass players at that time had to do that). Like so many musicians, after Phil saw the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he knew come hell or high water, he was determined to be in a rock band, and so he carried on. He was then smitten by the velvet-clad, mod look and sound of Rod Stewart and the Faces and that vibe furthered his desire to be in a band.
Prior to Y&T, Phil played in many other bands (his first band was Crystal Sunshine-the name explains the era); they started off like everyone else playing anywhere they could (Elk's Lodge, Job's daughters, parties).
While in junior high school, instead of listening to the teachers, Phil would draw a guitar neck on his arm and practice fingering chords. At that time, mentally, he had already decided that he wanted to play in a band; he only did enough schoolwork to keep authority from coming down on him. If he wasn't practicing guitar on his arm in class, he was doodling-drawing musical equipment instead of paying full attention to the teacher. At home, Phil created his own world-he took the mattress off his bed, put plywood on his bed frame, and made his very own stage where he'd place his amp and perform on "his" stage.
When Phil was in high school, he started a band with his brother Jeff. The band used to perform after school at Jeff's junior high school on the basketball courts. Phil had already known Leonard Haze (since he was eleven years old), but on one particular day while performing on the basketball courts, along came this frizzy headed dude-Dave Meniketti. That's the first time Phil remembers meeting Dave. The guys jammed a song together that afternoon. Another tidbit: once Phil's brother Jeff auditioned for a band of Leonard's called The Mustangs.
Phil didn't own a real instrument until he was 18. He rode the bus thirteen miles to a music store and paid $55 as a down payment for a used black Fender Jazz. The next month he paid another $50, and then he paid $5 a week until his bass was paid off ($250 total). He rode the bus every week just to smell that bass; besides the smell of excitement, that bass had a certain smell to it that he loved (the wax, the wood). That bass is the same black Fender Jazz that Phil used his entire career with Y&T.
In the early months of Yesterday & Today, the bass player at the time wanted to move on to rhythm guitar in the band instead of bass, so Leonard and Dave called Phil to join on bass. Soon thereafter, they kicked out the old bass player (who was the new guitar player) and they started writing original material. In 1974, Yesterday & Today won first place at the Hayward Battle of the Bands. The band that took second place had a rhythm guitar player named Joey Alves. A week later, Phil, Leonard and Dave asked Joey to join the band - and the rest was Y&T history.
The bass players Phil used as models for the style he felt Y&T needed were Leo Lyons (Ten Years After) and Gary Thain (Uriah Heap), along with many others. Phil's diverse musical interests would be shocking to Y&T fans. He liked every style of music and said he could not condemn any particular genre (only people with narrow minds should be condemned). He found validity in all music-from the corniest mellow stuff to the most avant garde. Phil always fancied himself more as a songwriter/creative person than a musician.
Along with Leonard Haze, Phil performed and recorded Marty Balin's rock opera Rock Justice