2009-06-17 / Community

Another legend leaves us

Kenn Blankenship waves to his audience Kenn Blankenship waves to his audience Kenn Blankenship was born in West Virginia in 1940 to Arnold S. and Cora Mounts Blankenship. His dad was a coal miner.

In 1952 the mines closed, and the family moved to New Richmond, Ohio, a small town on the Ohio River just east of Cincinnati.

Kenn graduated from New Richmond High School in Ohio. After graduation, he became an Ohio State Trooper for six years. During this time, segregation started. It became very dangerous for patrols so he resigned and went to Fort Lauderdale, Fl where he started working for Southern Bell. From Fort Lauderdale, he was transferred to Bainbridge and later to Colquitt.

It was here that he met and later married Barbara Williams on June 29, 1978. At that time he was playing lead guitar for the country band, "East River Junction." In 1979, he resigned from the phone company and he and Barbara bought the Tara Restaurant in Bainbridge and turned it into a supper club where the band performed on the weekends. The band traveled all over the southeast playing music from the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

Kenn loved singing the old time rock and roll and old classics but he loved singing the gospel best of all. As he sang the gospel he was quoted as saying, "I can feel the words in my soul."

The restaurant was later sold and Kenn and Barbara built a campground across the road from their home on Highway 91 in the Enterprise Community. This is when Kenn and Barbara formed their own band and traveled for twenty two years all over the southeast. They performed for Moose Lodges, Shrine Temples, American Legions, Country Clubs, VFWs, Federal Conventions, and political rallies. He was also nominated to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame

Later in the 1990s, Kenn decided to start doing Elvis shows when he recorded one of his CDs. He was told by a studio he had everything to do it - the voice, the talent, and the statue - all he had to do was shave his mustache and dye his hair. He accepted and ordered three Elvis suits from the same company that made the "real" Elvis' suits. He had the Aloha Hawaii, the comet suit, and the black butterfly suit. He got the music on discs and started doing the shows with Barbara's help and some help from his many friends.

He was a hit everywhere he performed. He played at the Albany Civic Center for a State of Georgia function and his show was the warm up for the coasters and platters at the civic center for their "Grown Folks Night Out" function. Wherever he performed, it was standing room only. So many people would come up and tell him it was like seeing an "Elvis" show.

Later, Kenn and Barbara sold the campground to Don Mathis, who currently owns it, so he could devote all of his time to traveling. However, Kenn performed several shows for Don in the music showcase. Kenn was responsible for building the A-frame and most of the buildings at Emerald Lake, including the showcase which is now used as a restaurant.

However, Kenn's health began to fail him on April 8, 2008. He suffered a very massive heart attack. After recovering from the heart attack he did two shows at Emerald Lake. These were his last performances. After this, he developed pneumonia several times and had congestive heart failure. Later, his kidneys stopped functioning and finally his life on this earth came to an end on Monday, June 8, 2009. He was 68 years old.

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