PIKEVILLE — When the Stepin' Stones, a 45-year-old Rolling Stones cover band, had a reunion last month, keyboardist "Dr. Don" Bevins couldn't make it.
"You'll be there next year," bandmate Darrel Mullins said. Sadly, Mullins said, that cannot happen now.
Donald Everett Bevins of Pikeville, a radio and television personality who documented life and sent classic rock over the airwaves since before it was classic, died Sunday of a sudden cardiac event. He was 61.
His voice is iconic in the Eastern Kentucky mountains.
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"He exposed Eastern Kentuckians to a lot of performers that they wouldn't have heard," Mullins said.
Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones were his favorites, said Adam Gearheart, general manager of Gearheart Communications, where Mr. Bevins worked for 17 years until he retired in 2007.
Gearheart said one of his fondest memories is going to Woodstock II in 1994 — Mr. Bevins always regretted not being able to go to the first Woodstock in 1969. On the way home from New York, they heard that the Stones were going to play at Giants Stadium the next day.
"We turned right around and went back," Gearheart said.
Mr. Bevins always said his favorite interview was with another iconic DJ, Wolfman Jack, just before Jack died. Gearheart said Mr. Bevins loved that Jack could match him in voice and musical knowledge.
"He was an encyclopedia of music," Gearheart said.
Later in his career, Mr. Bevins worked in television, too, filming parades, ball games, public meetings and interviews with all kinds of subjects for the local public-access cable station, WPRG-5. High school students would ask him for his autograph, Gearheart said.
"He could talk to guys in concert T-shirts and turn around and talk to the governor next," Gearheart said.
Mr. Bevins was a "nonconformist," Mullins said, with a good heart and soul. When Mullins, Pike district judge, decided to grow his hair long a few years ago, Dr. Don saw him in the grocery store and just shook his head.
"Darrel, Darrel, Darrel," Mullins said he heard in that deep, booming voice. "Your hair is longer than mine!"
Mullins knew Mr. Bevins since third grade and said they started playing together in the 1950s. After forming the band in 1965, they drove around Pike County and to gigs elsewhere in an old laundry van they painted in psychedelic colors.
"We thought of ourselves as Pikeville's answer to the Rolling Stones," Mullins said.
Mr. Bevins graduated from Pikeville College in 1970 and probably could have made more money in life, Mullins said, but "he did what he liked."
"I figure my musician friends are the closest I've got to my real family, and Don was the earliest member of that family," Mullins said.
Bevins' death, while he was packing for a trip to Florida to visit his daughter, shows how fragile life is, Mullins said.
"If we had more people like Don, the world would be a better place," he said.
Mr. Bevins is survived by his mother, Ruby Justice Bevins of Pikeville; his wife, Lehai Bevins; his daughter, Cynthia Maria Ray, of Sanford, Fla.; stepdaughter Yen Linh Trinh of Pikeville; four brothers, James Grady Bevins of Denver, Ky., and Larry Dean Bevins, William Gene Bevins and Ronald Blake Bevins, all of Pikeville; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday at Lucas and Son Funeral Home in Pikeville. Mr. Bevins will be buried in the Bevins family cemetery on Upper Chloe Creek, Pikeville.