Mean Gene Kelton here.
It is with a sad heart that I report that my good friend
of many years, Chris Gould, aka Professor Blues of Baytown, Texas, has passed
away. His family tells me that he went quietly in his sleep in the early hours
before the dawn on the morning of Friday, December 29, 2006. Cause of death:
"probably congestive heart failure", they said.
By the measure of earthly years, he was in his
mid-fifties. But his spirit was ageless. He had a rock 'n roll soul and the
heart of a true Bluesman.
I first met Chris Gould in 1984 when I was a radio
DJ at KBUK Radio in Baytown, Texas. I produced a show called the "Local Talent
Showcase" that featured the recordings of unknown Texas artists trying to make
it in the music business. Chris came to the station one day with a 45 rpm record
of his band which at that time was called Alpha 6. I liked the record and played
it on my show every week for nearly a year.
Shortly after the radio experience, I moved away
from Baytown for several years and did not see Chris again until I moved back to
Baytown and started the very first ever blues jam in Baytown in 1991.
It was every Wednesday night at The City Lites Club
on Texas Avenue. I called every musician I knew and invited them to come out and
jam. The first night, the place was packed! Chris showed up and I recognized him
from my radio days. He walked up to me and quietly stated that he was there for
the jam. I realized that except for his record, I had never heard him play live.
We all eyed him with curiosity because he did not
fit the stereotypical image of the cocky, over confident, denim clad,
guitarslinging Texas bluesrocker that we had all become accustomed to. He was
clean cut, and dressed like he was going to play golf.
When I called him to the bandstand, he plugged into
my amp, turned around and gave the bass player and drummer some instruction with
the authority of a maestro at work. Not knowing what to expect from this
unassuming guy, all eyes in the place were glued on Chris. He counted off and
blasted into "Alright Now" by Little Feat, followed by a rocking version "Knock
On Wood", two of his trademark songs. He then blazed through a list of blues
songs that included selections by Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan,
to name a few.
People packed the dance floor! The place went nuts!
We were all blown away by the unexpected amount of super talent that poured out
of this this mild-mannered looking guy who drank only Diet Coke. He sang with
the perfect voice of a veteran rock star and played guitar with the expertise of
Eric Clapton. He rocked da joint!
As the weeks went by, Chris Gould became a crowd
favorite and a regular jammer at the Wednesday night event. Nobody could ever
remember his name but they remembered that he was a teacher somewhere. In
reality, Chris taught Medical Radiology at San Jacinto College in Pasadena,
Texas. Because of that, people started calling him "the Professor". Added to the
fact that he played the blues, he became known by all as "Professor Blues". The
moniker was eventually shortened to "PB" by his close friends.
As the years went by, Professor Blues and I became
great friends. I was always amazed by his knowledge of the history of the Blues.
When I started Texas Blues Magazine in 1993, he became a regular contributor
writing his monthly column, "Professor Blue's Quiz".
When my band moved on from the Wednesday night jam
that by 1993 had moved to Frankies Club, Professor Blues and the Doctors Of Love
(featuring Larry "Smiley" Kintz on drums and Thurman "P-Funk"
Robinson on bass), took over the jam and kept it up
and running successfully for several more years.
I knew that I could always count on Professor Blues
lending his support to the various jams I hosted through the years. On several
occasions, when I was sick and could not make it to a gig, I would call on my
friend Professor Blues to take my place. He was one of the few musicians I
trusted to step right into my position and lead my band so that my guys would
never miss a payday.
Whenever Chris did not have a band gig, he would
often do a single act at various coffee shops. My wife and I went to see him
whenever possible. We were always blown away by the purity of his voice and his
extensive repertoire. He could perform obscure songs with perfection that the
rest of us had completely forgotten. Chris was a musician's musician. He was one
of the players that the rest of us would go see on our nights off. He could move
seamlessly from a set of growling blues songs to a tear jerking ballad doing
justice to all styles of music.
Every time I saw Professor Blues, he greeted me with
a big smile, acknowledged me from the bandstand, and gave me a big old bear hug
and asked me to sit in. We often sat in with each other's bands out of mutual
respect and admiration for each other. He treated every musician the same, not
The Houston Blues Scene has lost a great Blues
Warrior and Crusader for the Blues. Professor Blues loved to play all styles of
music and he especially loved to play the blues. He was a favorite among with
The Houston Area Blues Celebrities who always knew that they could always count
on the Professor Blues band to back them up and "play it like the record".
PB was always the first to volunteer whenever there
was a fundraiser or benefit to play. He graciously shared his talents to help
raise money for a needy family or a worthy cause.
His favorite story was the fact that when he was a
teenager, he had studied guitar under the guiding hand of a young Billy Gibbons,
who went on to super stardom with ZZ Top. PB loved his Fender Stratocaster,
which was a copy of Eric Clapton's "Blackie". He loved and respected the talents
of all other musicians, and was always quick with a smile and a compliment to
someone else's talents.
Professor Blues was always confident in his faith.
Though he never said much to us musicians about his religion, but it was obvious
by his actions that he was a righteous man. Even in the honky tonks where a man
can be tempted, Professor Blues always exhibited good, Christian conduct. All of
us sinning honky tonkers always respected him for that. He never met a stranger,
never said a cuss word and never said a bad word about any human being. He was
truly an inspiration to us all.
We had some great times that I will always cherish.
I will miss my friend. All of us in the Texas Music Industry will truly miss our
good and dear friend, Chris Gould, aka, the great... the legendary, Professor
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the
family, his students at San Jacinto College and to his band members.
For those of you who wish to send condolences, you
may visit Professor Blues' website at