Ken Kalmusky

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Ken Kalmusky
Ken Kalmusky
Background information
Born (1945-11-18)18 November 1945
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Died 19 October 2005(2005-10-19) (aged 59)
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Genres Rock music
Instruments Bass guitar
Years active 1957–2005
Associated acts The Revols, The Fab Four, Ronnie Hawkins, Great Speckled Bird, The Pencils, Plum Loco

Ken Kalmusky (18 November 1945 – 19 October 2005) was a Canadian musician born in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, to saxophonist Walter "JoJo" Kalmusky and Mary Kalmusky.

Early career[edit]

Kalmusky's first band The Revols, that would contribute music that has been heard around the world, on records, on television, in movies, and written about in books. Members of The Revols included Kalmusky, John Till (later a member of Janis Joplin's Full Tilt Boogie Band), and Richard Manuel (piano player and singer for Bob Dylan, and The Band).

Kalmusky left The Revols to join Ronnie Hawkins's band The Hawks, traveling North America, at age 16. One of the stories chronicled on page 65 of Barney Hoskyns' novel Across The Great Divide The Band and America, is Kalmusky, Richard, John, and the Hawks taking Ronnie's Cadillac for a joy ride in Memphis and being taken to jail (Kalmusky was under age and taken to juvenile lockup) as they were suspected of stealing the car. When they called Ronnie, with their one phone call, he said "Check the dipstick"; the dipstick of the Cadillac had Hawkins's name engraved on it.

After nearly a decade of touring with Ronnie, Ian Tyson called Hawkins and told him he needed a bass player in New York City, and within a day or two, Ronnie recommended Kalmusky, who got on a plane, flew to New York, and joined Ian and Sylvia in forming the band Great Speckled Bird. This band had a top-10 song, "Trucker's Cafe", on the Canadian Country charts and was the house band for the CFTO television show, Nashville North, renamed The Ian Tyson Show after one season. They also appeared in the film Festival Express, though Kalmusky had left the group by then.[1]

While in Great Speckled Bird, managed by Albert Grossman (manager for Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, and founder of Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, New York), Kalmusky played on records with Jerry Reed, Amos Garrett, Todd Rundgren, and toured the world, playing stages from Massey Hall, to The Grand Ole Opry.

In 1968, while playing in Hollywood, Kalmusky's wife, Sandra, 8½ months pregnant, returned to Stratford, Ontario, Canada to give birth to their first child, Kim Kalmusky. Kalmusky remained on tour, and making records in Nashville, New York, and Toronto for 2 more years until 1970.

In 1970, after the birth of his second child, David Kalmusky, Kalmusky returned to, and settled in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, where it all started with Richard Manuel, John Till, and The Revols in 1958.

Kalmusky formed a Stratford based band Plum Loco with his former band mate, John Till, and remained an active session musician, playing on dozens of recordings. As freelance bassist, Kalmusky returned to Hawkins's band several times through the 70s and 80s, worked with David Clayton Thomas (of Blood Sweat and Tears), Jack De Kaiser, King Biscuit Boy, Buffy Saint Marie, Jake Leiske (of Canadian Juno-awarded Farmer's Daughter), and as a session bassist, for son, producer David Kalmusky.

In 2005 Plum Loco released an album recorded at Kalmusky's brother Bob Kalmusky's studio. Plum Loco continues, with John Till's son, Shawn Till, on Bass.

Kalmusky's contributions to the music industry have been noted in Barney Hoskyns' novel, Across The Great Divide, Nicholas Jennings' novel, Before The Gold Rush, Levon Helm's novel This Wheel's on Fire, on radio, and television for the last 40 years.


Kalmusky's two-year battle with cancer ended in Stratford Ontario, on 19 October 2005. He is survived by wife Karen, ex-wife Sandra, and children Kim and David.

Photo gallery[edit]


  1. ^ Great Speckled Bird, The Cool Groove, accessed from