Tommy Keene

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Tommy Keene
Background information
Birth nameThomas Clay Keene
Born(1958-06-30)June 30, 1958
Evanston, Illinois, United States
OriginBethesda, Maryland, United States
DiedNovember 22, 2017(2017-11-22) (aged 59)
GenresPower pop, jangle pop, rock & roll, pop rock
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Instrument(s)Guitar, vocals
Years active1979–2017
LabelsAvenue, Dolphin, Geffen, Matador, Alias, Parasol, spinART, Not Lame, Eleven Thirty, Second Motion

Tommy Keene (born Thomas Clay Keene; June 30, 1958 – November 22, 2017)[1] was an American singer-songwriter, best known for releasing critically acclaimed rock & roll/power pop songs in the 1980s. He has a longtime cult following among fans of the musical genre of power pop.[2]


Evanston, Illinois-born Keene was raised in Bethesda, Maryland. He graduated in 1976 from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, which was also the alma mater of fellow musician Nils Lofgren, who went on to play and record with Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. Keene played drums in one version of Lofgren's early bands.[3] Keene then attended the University of Maryland, College Park.[4]

Musical career[edit]

Keene first received critical acclaim with the pioneering Washington, D.C. rock band The Razz, who released several local independent singles. His 1984 EP Places That Are Gone became one of the year's top selling independent releases.[5] That same year, Washington City Paper dubbed Keene "one of the best pop songwriters anywhere."[6] Places That Are Gone garnered a four-star review in Rolling Stone, and was voted the No. 1 EP in the following year's Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll. Keene recorded and released numerous albums on such labels as Dolphin, Geffen and Matador Records. He worked with producers T-Bone Burnett, Don Dixon, and R. Walt Vincent. He continued to record and tour and released an album with Robert Pollard, of Guided by Voices, as 'The Keene Brothers.' He was also a member of Pollard's live backing band "The Ascended Masters" also featuring Jon Wurster, Jason Narducy, and Dave Phillips. As well, he toured as an additional guitar player in Pollard's Boston Spaceships. Keene also played guitar on the Goo Goo Dolls' hit song, "Broadway", on their 1998 album, Dizzy Up The Girl.[7]

In 2011, Keene released his ninth original studio album, Behind The Parade on Second Motion Records. This was the fourth release working with Second Motion's founder Stephen Judge. Judge had released Keene's 2010 two-disc retrospective Tommy Keene: You Hear Me and his previous release, Crashing The Ether. Keene's 2006 release Eleven Thirty Records was released while Judge was A&R Director and general manager at Redeye Distribution.


Keene died in his sleep on November 22, 2017, at the age of 59 due to cardiac arrest.[8]



Compilation albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]


  • Places That Are Gone (1984, Dolphin)
  • Back Again (Try...) (1984, Dolphin)
  • Run Now (1986, Geffen)
  • Sleeping on a Roller Coaster (1992, Matador)


  1. ^ Salam, Maya (November 24, 2017). "Tommy Keene, power-pop songwriter and star of '80s D.C. music scene, dies at 59". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
  2. ^ "Tommy Keene". Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  3. ^ "Cult Rocker Tommy Keene, R.I.P." That Devil Music. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  4. ^ "In Our Lives". No Such Thing As Was. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Jack Leaver. "Places That Are Gone – Tommy Keene | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  6. ^ "City Paper, October 19, 1984 | Dig DC". Retrieved July 25, 2021.
  7. ^ "Tommy Keene at CBGB (03-28-1990)". The Mckenzie Tapes. Archived from the original on September 26, 2021. Retrieved January 21, 2022.
  8. ^ "Tommy Keene 6/30/58 – 11/22/17 – Tommy Keene". November 23, 2017.
  9. ^ "Top 200 Albums". Billboard. July 1, 1986. Retrieved September 6, 2015.

External links[edit]