RIP: Kerry Magness

I just got word from Kan-Do, rock ‘n roll road manager for the Kingsmen that bassist Kerry Magnness has died. Here’s what he sent me, recycled from his friend Steve Lalor:

I thought you would like to know. Another gifted musician/producer has gone. We just learned that Kerry Magness died April 22, 2004. He played bass for several notable bands including The Kingsmen and The Doors. We know nothing about the circumstances of his death as yet, but will pass the news along as we learn more.

The attached picture of Kerry was taken by Supi at The Eagles auditorium in 1969.

Please pass this on…

According to the official Kingsmen website, Kerry was a member of the band from 1966-1967. He also recorded with the Doors on their “Waiting for the Sun” album and was an early member of Rhinoceros.

At Sam Carlson’s encyclopedic PNW website, you can read about Kerry’s other band- Popcorn.

Rest in peace, Kerry.

23 comments to RIP: Kerry Magness

  • Chris Williams

    Very sorry to hear Kerry died. Does anybody know the circumstances?

    I met Kerry a couple of times around 2000. He was living on the streets in Venice CA. A guy named Peter A.J. Dugger and I tried to get him off the streets using an organization named St. Joseph’s Center in Venice. According to Kerry, he had lost everything at that point, his wife, home in the San Fernando Valley, money, etc. from drugs, alcohol and was suffering from a long standing osteomyelitis infection he received from a bullet fragment in his heel he sustained in Vietnam. The V.A. had removed almost 2 inches from one of his legs to stop the infection and he said it affected him with chronic pain thereafter. He said he was not in the military but was a civilian contractor shooting high speed film on early helicopter gun ships and was hit when the Viet Cong attacked the base he was in. When I met him he wanted to get off the streets at that point, but I’m not sure the social services actually came through as they so often don’t. Around here they are better at paying themselves and enabling homeless to stay on the streets rather than finding solutions for the homeless. I heard he had been granted disabled housing in Santa Monica CA sometime around 2001, but I lost track of him. He was alternatively on crutches or a wheelchair at that point due to the pain. When I met him he was sober, cordial,and friendly to my family and I. He was very nice to my (at that point) young son who was fascinated by his one shorter leg. I’m sorry to hear he’s passed, my experience was that he was a real genuine good guy.


  • Sharon Jo Sloan

    Kerry was talented, intelligent and kind. I’m sad to learn how tough the end was for him. We both grew up in Yakima, Washington and got acquainted during summer theater in Yakima. He had the role of the obnoxious rock star in “Bye, Bye Birdie”. Kerry could belch at will; his entrance was a sweep across the stage in a trailing bathrobe while cracking open a beer. At 6″8″ he was born for drama. He studied medicine at the University of Washington in the early 60’s before migrating into theater then the music scene. Kerry infused his environment with enthusiasm. He was emotionally generous. I felt so sad when I learned he had passed. His exceptional height would have put enough strain on him without the development of chronic pain. Kerry didn’t deseve an end on the streets. Tough stuff happens and sometimes the smartest fall hardest. I’m sorry his wife had to live through the downfall of such a talented individual. I hope people who remember him do so with kindness. I still think of him as a wonderful childhood friend.

    Sharon Mayo

  • Mike

    I read the comments above and am able to add more info. I was probably Kerry’s only true friend around the end of his life.

    The guys mentioned above (Chris & AJ) were opportunistic bastards. I knew AJ and considered him a friend at one point, but there was a falling out. When we were friendly, I had introduced Kerry to them. Kerry had a bunch of stuff in storage for years while living on the streets and he had to get it out of the garage it was in because his “buddy” was threatening to throw it all away. I thought that these guys could be trusted to help temporarily store his things.

    Chris was what you call a “gun nut” and offered to store some of Kerry’s collection. AJ was a failed, wanna-be rock star and offered to store Kerry’s musical equipment.

    Kerry did actually get off the streets and got a really nice place for very little money. Some of his things were returned, which shows that these guys knew where to find him, but AJ blew town with a bunch of his gear and Chris never returned most of his guns. I hope the pricks read this.

    Kerry and I were best friends for the last two years of his life and my mission was to get him off the streets and in a place he could call home. I was able to do that, but I wasn’t able to make him see that life wasn’t over for him at 60.

    I wouldn’t mind doing a guest post or two here detailing his final days…we had some crazy adventures! Feel free to contact me if that interests you. It would be an honor to remember him.


    ADDITIONAL NOTE BY WEBSITE ADMINISTRATOR: Please read the reply by AJ regarding these inflammatory remarks. I am glad to honor to Kerry’s legacy, but this website is NOT the forum to attack others. I’d rather NOT have to edit anybody’s comments…

  • David Swanson

    Well, my fried from Yakima, Sharon Mayo, knew him better than I did, but I remember seeing him at Eagles in Seattle. Sad.

    David Swanson from Kennewick ([email protected])

  • James

    I remember Kerry as a kind and generous man. I met him in late 1966. He had a first-year 911 (the 4-cyl), a small apartment in Seattle, and some money from the Kingsmen gigs. He helped me gently make the transition from early sixties innocence to the decidedly non-innocent realities of the real sixties.

    We would lay around his apartment, hitting on a hookah, laughing at Wowie Zowie, playing the sitar. He bought me the first Mexican meal I ever had, in 1966 there were few Mexican restaurants in the Northwest. I would later see him occasionally when he’d walk down the hill to our place in Laurel Canyon in ’68-69.

    He was a genuine good guy. I’d like to hear the stories mentioned by Mike above, contact me at jasmann at live dot com if you’d like.


  • Mike

    Kerry was an awesome guy. I did not know him well, but for the brief time I spent with him, I knew that he was a genuine, caring human being. I was shooting a documentary on Homeless in Santa Monica around 2002. I happened to come across Kerry and offered him money and food in return for his life story. He seemed to be in pretty bad shape, but nonetheless told me his whole life story. I am trying to locate the video at this moment, but am having trouble. Though I did not know Kerry well, he sure was a nice guy. RIP KERRY

  • Shamus Sherwood

    I left LA in 96 and stayed in touch with Kerry by phone. Sent him a check to a community center that came back to me two years later. Kerry was a dear man and a great friend as well as a fine musician. For a long time I tried to find out what had happened assuming that he had died but not knowing the circumstances. I spoke with Jim Rogers and old friend of Kerry’s from childhood, and he checked but couldn’t get any information. It never occured to me that I could Google info. Now I know. How tragic. A wonderful friend. Biggest heart in the world…. Shamus Sherwood

  • I am sad to be finally getting this news at this late date. Kerry was in deed an awesome friend who due to his worsening condition was in great need of help from those around him. I kept his most prised possessions safe in a storage locker that cost me $60 a month for nearly a year and delivered all but one box that was misplaced in the storage to his apartment in Santa Monica. I had seen him a few times after that and he had appeared to be doing better once off the street but in his own words there are good days and bad.

    I discovered the afore mentioned box which contained a beta deck, 2 microphones and a lot of photographs when I was preparing to move back east in November of 02. Though I tried several times to reach him at his apartment as he had no phone I was unsuccessful in reaching him. Aside from one mic that was stolen from my place and the photos that photos water damaged which I threw out. I still have the remainder of the content of the box should Kerry’s next of kin want to contact me.

    As for Mike Smith’s allegation that I was an opportunist who in some way used Kerry I would need to know how I ever benefited from the experience other than by simply knowing the man. I enjoyed his stories and I did what I could to help him. I stored his stuff I moved his stuff from his storage in the valley to my place before he lost it when he could not pay the bill, I stored it for a year at my own expense and I move it to his apartment once he got accepted for housing.

    Mike you should check your facts. You were the homeless man who slept on my couch, ate my food, smoked my cigarettes and started shit with all my friends for 5 months, destroyed two of my computers surfing porn, while I was off at work. You lost me thousands of hours of work and thousands of dollars. I can only imagine what kind of crap you pulled while sleeping on Kerry’s couch after that. The last time I spoke with him he told me he had kicked you out.

    I am fairly sure that you had something to do with the break-in that occurred the week after you moved from my couch to Kerry’s that claimed over $2000.00 worth of my equipment not to mention the many items that were missing from my place during your couch surfing stays. Should I mention the time you broke the headstock off my Charvelle Model 5 and never even offered to get it repaired.

    I know this is not the venue for this and I get that you and Kerry were friends but don’t use this forum of remembrance for s well loved musician to try to justify your actions and make me look like the bad guy here. You took advantage of every one who ever tried to help you even Kerry. Who I might add was barely off the street a month when you showed up at his door.

    As for Chris, he did help get some strings pulled for Kerry to get him into the housing in Santa Monica and Kerry did get his power chair. His battle with illness was a long and painful one but he did manage to get off the street and he had many more good days than bad because of that.

    RIP Kerry Magnus

  • If anyone who read this site actually knows “Mike Smith”, Kerry’s “only” true friend, then they know that his only claim to fame is that he is a failed thief and pick pocket who is probably going to be responsible for removal of this site from the Internet and a large defamation of character law suit. I cannot believe that this slanderous BULLSHIT has been online for 3 years with out anyone checking into the validity of the content.

    I am sorry about Kerry’s death he was a kind and interesting man. However Mike Smith is full of shit and if any of Kerry’s equipment is missing aside from the content of the box he left in my possession in 02 which I was unable to return to him, then I would suspect that Mike Smith is probably the person who made off with it. I will not be his scape goat. I expect a retraction.

    Furthermore I may have had a less than perfect career thus far but at least I have a career unlike Mike who has been a homeless piece of shit, a career criminal and a sociopath who preys on the unsuspecting, mostly other homeless and single women.

    I am sorry that I have been forced to use this forum to air my grievances with Mike the wannabe gangster, but as my character has been defamed in your pages I find it my only recourse to set the record straight.

    Peter “AJ” Dugger
    a.k.a. AJ Dagger

  • Mike Smith

    A.J., you are just ridiculous with that stuff. What’s funny is you’re so sick in the mind you probably believe it. Anyone with half a brain can clearly see you’re angry for being called out and acting out of malice. This brings to mind that old saying “Methinks he doth protest too much.” I won’t even respond to your imaginary accusations point by point because you don’t even believe them. Very entertaining though. I love how you used your full name so people can know exactly who to steer clear of… you basically “outed” yourself. I never used your name, so you’d have no case. I wish you the best (as a “human” since you don’t matter to me personally) and hope you cherish your ill gotten gains.

    Mike Smith

  • EP

    I’m not sure what to do with all these comments from Kerry’s old friends attacking each other. I’m glad folks are talking about Kerry, and would like encourage more people to write words celebrating his legacy. I never even met Kerry, yet it appears that this blog entry of mine has become a default webpage to remember his life.

    Should I do more editing? Should I remove some of this stuff? Can these old friends somehow edit themselves to share positive messages about Kerry?

  • Gene Jaleski

    01/16/2011 – Googled Kerry Magness and got here. Monica and I met Kerry somewhere in the Seattle mid 60s amidst folk music and “the scene” We all hung out together for a year enjoying friendship and good times. He was a good friend of Susie Spider Lady who was wonderous and a deeply loving being. Monica and I stayed with Kerry and Seattle friends in Laural Canyon in 66 or 67 where I bought my first sitar. He was into TM and happy. Kerry is in the cast of my beautiful memories of being a Fringie in Seattle in the early 60s playing music in th coffee houses and finding so many beautiful souls.

    While riding on a train goin’ west,
    I fell asleep for to take my rest.
    I dreamed a dream that made me sad,
    Concerning myself and the first few friends I had.

    With half-damp eyes I stared to the room
    Where my friends and I spent many an afternoon,
    Where we together weathered many a storm,
    Laughin’ and singin’ till the early hours of the morn.

    By the old wooden stove where our hats was hung,
    Our words were told, our songs were sung,
    Where we longed for nothin’ and were quite satisfied
    Talkin’ and a-jokin’ about the world outside.

    With haunted hearts through the heat and cold,
    We never thought we could ever get old.
    We thought we could sit forever in fun
    But our chances really was a million to one.

    As easy it was to tell black from white,
    It was all that easy to tell wrong from right.
    And our choices were few and the thought never hit
    That the one road we traveled would ever shatter and split.

    How many a year has passed and gone,
    And many a gamble has been lost and won,
    And many a road taken by many a friend,
    And each one I’ve never seen again.

    I wish, I wish, I wish in vain,
    That we could sit simply in that room again.
    Ten thousand dollars at the drop of a hat,
    I’d give it all gladly if our lives could be like that… Bob Dylan

  • Mike,

    I am not protesting I am calling you a lier because you are one. I am not in possession of his equipment. You know that because you were there and helped us move it to his apartment along with all the other shit I stored for him. So my only thought is that you made off with his 80-8 Tascam 1/2″ 8 track recorder, his M308 board and his Sony Betamax camera and that red “Court” strat copy he had and anything else not nailed down.

    All I had was the afore mentioned box and the only reason I had it was he was not home for the last three weeks I was in Venice. Put yourself in my shoes ass wipe! I was moving I did not have time to be running around looking for people and I certainly did not need extra box, as was is I had my own music and recording gear to move. I did not leave LA because I wanted to blow town with Kerry’s precious box of junk. The reason I left LA was because I bought a house in a community where I could perhaps afford a better standard of life.


    I did however leave my phone number and new address on a piece of paper at his door hoping he would call before I left. I even looked for him on the boardwalk and inquired with the VA hospital but to no avail. I had 2 U-Hauls with a max of 10 days to get my home and Julies apartment full of stuff to the Cape. I simply had to prioritize.

    As I remember it Kerry had two other guys staying at his flat; a cook from one of the restaurant on the promenade and some other guy with a beard. Did you ask them if they knew about Kerry’s stuff?

    I really think you ought to get your facts straight before you start making accusations. Especially with your track record for petty larceny, INCARCERATIONs and your OWN mental health issues. My record stands clean.

    Fact’s you are well aware of because you persist in strutting your true nature with your stupid icon “DIABOLIK” the devil in a Ski Mask. Come on you larcenous piece of shit.

    You had my contact info as well and you knew many of my friends and neighbors who also knew how to get a hold of me. Your not contacting me directly and not before Kerry’s death to get his box with his mics and beta deck and his photos seem rather suspicious. You know I would have sent them to Kerry UPS. I knew if I left them on his door step they would have been gone. Your just wrong. Go away. You lazy piece of shit.


    To Whom it May Concern:

    If you know Mike Smith and know that he is in possession of any of the afore mentioned Items post it here. If you purchased any of these Items from Mike Smith or from Kerry or any one who lived with Kerry please post it here.

    I am sorry that it had to come to this. I don’t like the fact that I have to defend my self in this forum. Kerry deserves better and yes I deserve better. I did what I could do for him and it would appear no good deed goes un-punished.


  • Mike,

    If you read Chris’s post you would know that my name was already there and I wanted to make sure anyone reading this would know who I am because I have nothing to hide. You on the other hand have done nothing but try to cast blame on me for something that you know I could not possibly have done. The only Items In my possession were left in my possession by Kerry. So you go now and fuck yourself. Enjoy your ill gotten gains “DIABOLIK”. You think you are so much smarter than everyone else. You leave your masons mark when you cast your spell.



  • Mike Smith

    You don’t even realize how guilty this all makes you look. Keep it up, it’s boundlessly entertaining watching you hurt yourself. I gave you the rope and you’ve hung yourself nicely. LMAO!

  • Bill Hahn

    The first time I saw the Kingsmen was in Indianapolis, maybe Summer of ’67. Kerry was playing bass – excellent player! My friend asked him, “how’s the weather up there?” His reply was, “they’re going to wire my ass soon, I’ll give you a call.” Not sure what it meant exactly, but we laughed and it shut my obnoxious friend up. The Kingsmen were the first national band I ever saw and I was greatly influenced by the fantastic drumming of Dick Peterson. They should be in the Rock Hall of Fame, but we know that’ll never happen. Kerry, maybe you and your friends on this post can get together — on down the road — and reconcile these differences. Hope so. God’s best to you, Kerry.



  • James

    Did Kerry ever live in Moses Lake, Wa.

  • Linda Zinn

    I met Kerry in L.A. when he was with the band Bodine, through a good friend from Washington, Bill Greenwood (who has also since passed away). I didn’t know Kerry well, but the times I was around him, he struck me as a great guy, and I enjoyed his bass playing on the Bodine album.

    I’m very sorry Kerry’s last days were so difficult. May he RIP and be a part of that “helluva band” in heaven.

  • Bob

    Yikes! What a mess!

  • Buddy Moegling

    I met Kerry in Yakima, Washington. We got acquainted during summer theater in Yakima. Dasha Santini was going with Barry Curtis, and she talked me into being in the play, “Bye, Bye Birdie”. That’s where I met Kerry. We hit it off from the get-go. When I left Yakima heading to Seattle, I purchased Kerry’s 1953 Harley-Davidson Sportster. I knew both his mother and father. I was a flamenco player at coffee houses on University Ave. At Yakima Valley College, I was called Karl, but most called me Bud or Buddy; in Seattle I was called ‘FLASH’ during the 60s. At that time, the University Harrald Newspaper derogatorily called us ‘Fringes’. Otherwise, those who hung on the fringe of society. Only later were we called ‘Hippies’. Don MacAlister, Steve Lalor, Jon Keliehor, Doug Hastings and others were in a Seattle Band called The Daily Flash. MacAlister was also a flamenco player, and we’d play in the University Ave Coffee Houses. Kerry and I would jam mostly doing country rock and folk during the early times.

    Later I moved my brass bed in the basement of Barry Curtis. Much later Dasha Santini and several girls from Yakima lived across from the Red Robin Tavern, when Sam and his brother Sol owned it. I put my brass bed next to Dasha’s door and kept the bad guys from bothering the girls. Those were the early hippy times when it was love, peace, and grass. Those were times when I could leave my Martin D-35 and Gibson Dove right by the door, with no worry of theft. Times like those are ‘long gone’! I remember the time when Kerry and I had a beer at the ‘Blue Moon’ – I read a line written on the restroom wall while on LSD. It read, “I wish I were where I was when I wished I was where I am now.” I’m sure when Kerry was on the street, during his last days, he could agree with Blue Moon’s unknown author. Another author named Drake wrote, “Sometimes I wish I could go back in life. Not to change things, just to feel a couple things twice. God speed Kerry.

  • Doug Altman

    Hello , I,m Doug Altman. I met Kerry while living in lautel Cyn in 68.What a Great Guy. He would come over & swimm in our pool.Was a blast to be Around. I was just a 17 yr old Drummer. He taught me so much!! Was so kind & generous. Solc me a great racing bike for nothin. Did some great projects. Last I saw him was in the 80s in a thai restaurant on ventura blvd. Laughin & eating , entertaining
    I have been lookin foy years’ Play on Rip

  • Vickie Long

    I am from the middle of nowhere West Texas. In around ’89, Both my Sister and I flew to LA to see my Dad and step-mother, who had just retired and moved there. At that time, they lived in Oxnard.

    My Step-sister (Linda Graves Steele) was living in West Hollywood, and we all got together the day after my sis and I arrived from Texas. Linda brought a man with her, who turned out to be Kerry Magness.

    There have only been a few times in my life when I have been so impressed by meeting someone for the first time! He was so charismatic and attractive, had a fantastic smile, and a super warm aura about him!

    I think we (my sis and I) were told they were a couple. Linda was a singer, so that’s obviously how they met.

    I still have quite a few photos from that visit! He was an impressive man!

    I’m so sorry to learn about what he’s been through, and that he passed. May both he and Linda RIP.

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