Kevin Matthew Gilbert (November 20, 1966 – May 17, 1996) was an American songwriter, musician, composer, producer and collaborator. Gilbert’s second solo album, The Shaming of the True, (2000) was released posthumously.
Kevin Matthew Gilbert was born in Sacramento, California on November 20, 1966, later living in Scotch Plains, New Jersey and San Mateo, California where he attended Junipero Serra High School.
Kevin Gilbert was an accomplished composer, singer and instrumentalist who played keyboards, guitar, bass guitar, cello, and drums. His talents also extended to production.
He toured with Eddie Money before winning the 1988 Yamaha SOUNDCHECK International Rock Music Competition with his progressive rock group Giraffe.
Producer Patrick Leonard was impressed with Gilbert’s performance at the competition and invited him to join him in forming a new band which became Toy Matinee.
During this time, Gilbert worked on the projects of several established pop musicians, including Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Keith Emerson, acting as producer for the latter’s album Changing States.
The lone Toy Matinee album (eponymously named) was released in 1990 but effectively shelved by the record company, so Gilbert assembled a new backing band to promote it, eventually getting two successful singles released, “The Ballad of Jenny Ledge” and “Last Plane Out.”
Later, Gilbert was part of the songwriting collective “The Tuesday Music Club” that met at producer Bill Bottrell’s studio in Pasadena, California.
Gilbert introduced his then-girlfriend Sheryl Crow to Bottrell and his fellow Club musicians and the sessions allowed Crow to workshop new material, leading to the recording of her breakthrough debut album, Tuesday Night Music Club.
Gilbert co-wrote many of the songs on that album, including 1995 Grammy Record of the Year “All I Wanna Do”. Crow later acrimoniously split with most of the musicians in the collective and only producer Bottrell and drummer Brian MacLeod were involved in her follow-up album.
Meanwhile the remainder of the collective worked with singer-songwriters Susanna Hoffs and Linda Perry on two more albums.
Gilbert continued to work in television and movie soundtracks, studio sessions, production, and eventually released his first solo album Thud (1995) as well as partially reforming Giraffe to perform the Genesis double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway at Progfest ’94.
Gilbert’s manager sent a copy of the recording to Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford who were searching for a new Genesis front man to replace Phil Collins.
Coincidentally, shortly after Kevin’s death, his manager, Jon Rubin of The Rubinoos, was contacted by Genesis’s management to arrange an audition.
Several albums of Gilbert’s music have been released posthumously, beginning in 1999 with the live album Kevin Gilbert & Thud – Live at the Troubadour (consisting primarily of songs from Thud) and a compilation of Giraffe material that he had been working on.
Gilbert’s second solo album, The Shaming of the True, (2000) was also released posthumously. The album was largely incomplete, but Gilbert’s estate asked Nick D’Virgilio (a former member of Thud, the Giraffe Progfest ’94 gig, Spock’s Beard drummer and close friend of Gilbert’s) and producer/engineer John Cuniberti to complete it, based upon the extant tapes and the album planning notes left by Gilbert.
Following this, an “industrial” album of music performed by Gilbert’s group, Kaviar, was released in 2002. In November of that year Nick D’Virgilio headlined Progwest in Claremont, CA and played the entire The Shaming of the True album live.
In October 2009, three new works were released; Nuts and Bolts (collectively a body of mostly unreleased songs and mixes, released as two individual CD albums) and Welcome to Joytown – Thud: Live at The Troubadour, a DVD/CD which expanded on the original 1999 release.
A live performance from Gilbert’s promotional group for Toy Matinee was made available in March 2010, and late 2011 saw a deluxe expanded release of The Shaming of the True with additional orchestration and engineering by Mark Hornsby.
In 2012, the two Giraffe albums and 1984’s No Reasons Given were re-issued with complete re-mastering from the original analog tapes.
Late 2014 saw a similar expanded release of Thud.
Gilbert died at age 29 in Los Angeles from apparent autoerotic asphyxiation.