It’s been a weird week for me. I’ve gotten some positive feedback on my writing, and after going through what I’m starting to call my May-June depression (from around the middle of May to around Father’s Day), it was welcome. I did some spontaneous things with some buddies, and it seems like I’m on the path to have my most successful release of a book yet.
But it’s all bittersweet.
As I get older, there’s one thing I can’t shake.
Last year, Death took my best friend. Death has ravaged my close friends, taking some of their loved ones with pharmaceuticals or worse. Shit, I recently learned my sister’s high school & college boyfriend was eaten alive by Satanic cannibals a few years back. Most often when we learn of these things we are caught off guard, unprepared for the revelation. We are shocked, we weep, and we mourn. Sometimes, though,the death of an associate isn’t a surprise at all.
I lost a long time friend last week. We put him to rest today. And I didn’t cry. Which shocked me. Until I realized… This person’s death was expected, and I had prepared myself for this years ago.
Jeff Kimpland passed away last week. He produced my old garage band’s demo, and was the karaoke DJ my core group of friends rallied around for a number of years. He was an enigmatic person. The women who went to karaoke with us wanted to fuck Jeff, and the guys wanted to be Jeff. He had a perfect tenor, with a 4 octave range. He put Geoff Tate to shame. We had Jeff sing Geoff’s Silent Lucidity at every show. So we could hear the song sung correctly.
Jeff came into the metal scene at the wrong time, as grunge started to take over. His band, Saharra, was set to become the next big metal act, blending aspects of hair metal with the progressive sound of Queensryche. While I learned my announcer-craft at WGFR in Glens Falls, the A&R rep for Columbia records gave me their demo to play in Spring of 1992. They opened up for Dream Theater and Queensryche. But Saharra went nowhere really quickly when spandex, guitar solos, and epic vocalists were kicked to the curb.
So Jeff moved back home to Syracuse. He started up his karaoke business, and prepared to launch his metal comeback. As he did so, he recorded demo albums for many of the karaoke singers in town in his private studio. My band, Zed’s Dead, was the first band he recorded. It wasn’t without flaws, the drums are over-condensed, but the guitars and vocals shine. Jeff was a real pro and gave many people in the karaoke community the confidence to go on and do more with their lives. Jeff was someone I called a friend. He even DJ’d my wedding.
And now, Jeff is dead.
And I know it sounds cold, but I’m not surprised one bit.
Shortly after our heyday of hanging out, from roughly 1997-2002, Jeff experienced a tragic accident at his employer, a national home goods chain. He fell off the loading truck, and broke his back. It changed everything. But the worst change of it all? Jeff became addicted to opiates and painkillers.
Staying in contact with the man became a chore. He’d be so fucked up on pills he wouldn’t even know what we were talking about. You can’t reason with a pill popper, I learned. He started asking people for money, and that was a clear warning. So I distanced myself from him.
Then Jeff went to rehab and met Charlie Thomas from the Drifters. Jeff cleaned up, with Charlie as his sponsor. Jeff found a new life singing with cover bands on Cruise ships, singing non-metal songs. He started DJing in town again, and we started to go to his shows. He was healthy, and happy.
Then he fell off the wagon.
Opiates are evil. They consume a person. And prescription painkillers are the worst.
But Jeff never gave up. With Charlie’s help he cleaned up again, and found a new love and gave birth to a son.
But once again, those fucking Opiate demons reared their ugly head. It cost him his employment, it led to him separating from his son’s mother, and I won’t be surprised if we learn he died as a result of his addiction. His body might have just given up, or maybe he found some really good drugs on his trip to Canada the week before, who knows. All I know is a great talent passed away, and the world is a lesser place because of it.
Here’s some examples of his work, for your listening pleasure.
RIP, Jeff, your pain is gone, finally.
Enjoy some Jeff…
I found this page because various COVID denier/anti-vaxx people are framing Jeff Kimpland’s death as the result of a COVID vaccine he had received two months before he died. I assumed this narrative was bullshit, and the heartfelt writeup here from Thomas Clark seems to support that diagnosis. I just wanted to comment to alert Thomas Clark and other readers to the situation and see if Thomas or any other friends of Jeff Kimpland have any desire to add information here to set the record straight.
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Too bad no one knows the cause of death except for the people who need to know, and they can keep that private. The dimwits who think he died cos of the J&J vaccine can believe what they want, it doesn’t change that he passed. And here I am thinking I was wrong for speculating he may have fallen off the wagon… knowing it was probably from his body just giving up. These conspiracy theory anti-vaxxer nutjobs are awful people.
Jeff was a close friend of mine also. I loved him like a brother. He did spots on my radio station, we did specials on him and his music career, and we had lots of fun jamming with fans and friends on the air together. Jeff and I also spent many hours on the phone together sharing life and what it brings.
Great article on Jeff, Tommy. I’m sure he is proud of you and this.
We’ll miss him for as long as we live and we will never forget him or his love of music and life.
Revrend St John
Founder: Classic Rock West Coast Radio
TY Rev. You had a first row seat for his battles, and I’m glad you were there for him. \m/ \m/
I met Jeff about 2009. I was on a mission to reconnect with my daughter through music. I hit him up out of the blue to help me out, and he agreed. We had an instant connection. He didn’t even charge me, and we split the expenses. He was a true king among men. We would stay up all night emailing, and spent hours talking on the phone. He didn’t care that I had crappy gear, and didn’t know what I was doing. I was privy to the things about him you mentioned, and more. I remember him telling me he would be gone within a year, and he was. We always talked about rerecording our songs, but decided we would go on to create more instead. With his passing, that is no longer possible, so we are rerecording and posting our songs, to honor his memory. Knowing Jeff completely changed my life for the better, and he is sorely missed…
My name is Amber Kimpland King and I am, was Jeff’s younger sister. I can not put into words adequately exactly how it’s been for us since Jeff’s passing. Knowing for years that his addiction was bad and was costing him more and more as time went on. It was hard to watch his denial of what was so clear for so many of us to see. And in the end….on June 19th 2021 it was the drugs that won!
And yes, it’s been a terrible loss for so many reasons. We lost a son, a brother, a Uncle, a Friend, A Partner…. but most of all my nephews lost there father! Because he always chose drugs whether they be prescription or not….he chose himself over and over again!
But, I still love ❤️ and miss my brother everyday 😢.