In 1994 Kevin persevered and slowly recovered from a catastrophic, traumatic brain injury, 16 hours of brain surgery over two days, a 75-day coma, myriad life-threatening complications and a four month hospital stay.
He was working during Spring break from Baldwin Wallace University when a co-worker cut a tree down that crushed his skull and spine, but not his spirit. Injuries included paralysis of his right side, loss of half his vision in each eye, aphasia resulting in a mere 10-word vocabulary, difficulty swallowing and severe hearing loss.
But, he slowly managed to re-learn his name, the alphabet, and how to eat, talk, read, stand, walk and learn after more than 3000 therapy sessions, private tutoring, and vocational rehabilitation.
For several years Kevin practiced with two music therapists and studied under his former mentor and touring percussionist, Professor Tom Fries, to once again play drums. While strengthening the paralyzed half of his body, The Kevin Reed Band first entertained at local rehabilitation facilities. As his coordination improved, venues expanded to local clubs a couple of times a month.
The following local news story early on in Kevin’s recovery won an award for the talented WKYC-TV reporter, Monica Robins…
(Note that there are three segments, ending with his band gig at O’Haras.)
In 2001, Kevin, with the help of his brother Craig, composed, performed and recorded a CD with The Kevin Reed Band and The College of Wooster Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Professor Tom Fries…
The Odyssey (C) CD contains a rock suite exploring brain injury in four movements: Injury, Coma, Rehabilitation and Celebration of Life. The remaining tracks contain originals and covers by the Kevin Reed Band and can be obtained by contacting email@example.com.
“Injury,” the First Movement, is performed by the College of Wooster Percussion Ensemble augmented by prerecorded sound effects. It begins with early morning crickets, interrupted in their daily reverie by the workers clearing a path through the trees. After the ash tree is felled that strikes Kevin with the velocity of a 30-foot long baseball bat, the sounds of the ambulance siren and life flight helicopter fade away, leaving only the crickets to remember the drama.
“Coma,” the second movement, begins with the deliberate, plaintive sound of the piano. Craig Reed, Kevin’s brother composed and performs the suite’s piano score, from the perspective of a brother whose soul is mortally wounded. Percussive, edgy sounds of the hospital are heard, including squeaky nurse’s shoes, to doctors’ lowered voices, to the beeping and breathing of the metallic equipment keeping Kevin artificially alive. But on the 75th day of the coma, Kevin calls out to his mother who was sitting at his bedside, and begins a tenuous, excruciatingly slow, attempt at relearning how to function. The movement ends with Craig’s piano gently coaxing Kevin to fully awaken from his slumber.
“Rehabilitation,” the third movement, shows Kevin’s unrelenting determination to relearn how to live. His performance on snare and custom designed Trash Kat drum “marches” through thousands of therapy sessions over eight years. The drums introduce a piano interlude hinting of setbacks and disappointments, but courageously forges ahead.
“Celebration,” the fourth movement, features Craig on piano, Kevin on drum kit, Roger Flickinger on bass guitar, and the College of Wooster Percussion Ensemble, who are joined by the other members of The Kevin Reed Band. Vocalist John Mangan sings the lyrics that were written by Kevin’s mother, Jane, who attempted to capture Kevin’s silent struggle while in the 75-day coma, determining whether to live or die. Guitarist, Neil Bartos, unequivocally celebrates the choice to live in an explosive solo. (Neil witnessed first-hand his brother Ken’s release from death’s grip a few years earlier.) Celebration continues with a jazzy piano solo and concludes with Neil on acoustic guitar, fading into the memory of crickets.
Kevin designed, patented, and we built and sold nationally the Trash Kat(TM) series of drums through his drum work shop, Athena Music, Inc., DBA: ThunderEcho Drum Company(TM) which was formed in 2001, but due to Covid supply issues, closed in 2022. The last sale of eight Trash Kats was made to the Cleveland Caveliers’
216-Stix percussion group.
Endorsements received over the 20 years of ThunderEcho Drum Company also included: Adrian Young (No Doubt), Carmine Appice (Rock legend), Will Calhoun (Living Colour), John Mahon (Elton John), Eric Darken (ACM award recipient), Recycled Percussion (Las Vegas), Hanna Ford Welton (Prince), and many others. A Trash Kat has been on exhibit at both the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad, California, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Cleveland. The Trash Kat drum has even been heard on Keith Urban and Bon Jovi CDs and movie soundtracks as well.
Kevin’s love of all things Mopar has only intensified over the years. He restored a 1968 Dodge Polara convertible, similar to the one he drove all through high school.
Out of spare parts he even built a running engine, diagnostic stand to test vintage Mopar engines independently of a vehicle.
In spite of Kevin’s significant, residual disabilities affecting his entire being, involving hearing, speaking, coordination, aphasia, gait and balance, he continues to shatter the stereotype about a person’s capabilities after catastrophic brain injury.
Kevin may still be labeled disabled, but not when he is behind a drum kit, designing and building percussion instruments or tinkering in his garage.