Skip to main content

Passings: Kenny Whiteside of the Cleftones (1943 - 2013)

Kenneth P. "Kenny" Whiteside, a latter day member of the Cleftones, passed away on Wednesday from the cancer he had been fighting a year. He was 70.

Whiteside was a gifted singer who learned his craft on the streets of Queens starting at the age of 13 singing in Doo Wop groups. Over the next five years, he learned to not only sing lead but also all four support parts (bass, baritone, 1st tenor and 2nd tenor).

Not to be limited to just his voice, Kenny also learned to play jazz drums and, but the age of 18, he was singing in his own group and playing drums in bands including one of the youngest jazz ensemble to ever play at Birdland.

Over the decades, Whiteside became known as a versatile entertainer, not only performing as himself but also in tribute performances to Elvis Presley (The Echos of Elvis Tribute), Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Barry White (all in Soul Lives On Tribute), Engelbert Humperdinck and Dean Martin.  In addition, Whiteside also had a vocal training business.

Kenny joined the Cleftones in 1997, singing both lead and background vocals, joining original lead Herb Cox, Mac Todd (who also joined in 1997), Kevin Jeter and Nick Saunders who has been with the group since 1970. Whiteside can be seen in the group's appearances on the PBS Doo Wop specials and heard on the 2002 album The Cleftones: Live Today. He remained with the group until just recently when his illness forced him to the sidelines.

Comments

Unknown said…
lolaKenny and i became friends as i was a bartender and he sang so wonderful where i had been working... we became the bartender and the singer where i had gotten him gigs wherever i had worked.... he was my wonderful friend till the end..... so talented and a very sad ending... i will never forget when my mom and dad retired to flordia and he sang to them than ending singing with my most talented mother... loved him dearly ...
Unknown said…
I knew Kenny from my Grumman Days on long Island. I never met a nicer guy or better singer in all my years of singing myself. He was an influence to me and he will truly be missed. God bless you my friend. Joe Sapienza