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Kenny Shields, Lead Singer of Streetheart, Dies

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Kenny Shields, who fronted Streetheart throughout its 40-year history, passed away yesterday. He was 69.

The band broke the news on its Facebook page. “It is with deep sadness and regret that we announce that our dear friend and bandmate Kenny Shields has passed away quietly and peacefully early this morning at the St. Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg MB,” guitarist Jeff Neill wrote. “By his side were his wife Elena, his daughter Julia and his sister Sharlene.”

Earlier this month, Shields had emergency surgery to repair a heart problem. According to the band’s Facebook post, he had only 20 percent efficiency on the left side and, in an effort to compensate, the right side was damaged, and fluid built up in his lungs. The band was had been on a break from their 40th anniversary farewell tour, with a final show in Winnipeg on Aug. 29, when Shields took ill.

“Our thanks to the caring and compassionate staff at the St. B for all the dignity and comfort that they provided for Kenny and his family throughout this difficult time,” the message continued. “We are most grateful to each and every one of you for all the love, support and hope you have extended towards Kenny and his family over these last few weeks. We know personally how much that meant to Kenny and, that your kindness contributed to his inner peace in the end. We will keep you all updated as we move forward. Live your life. Love your life and, enjoy every moment of your life with the ones you love. RIP our dear brother. You will be missed. You will never be forgotten.”

Streetheart began in Regina, Saskatchewan as a trio called Witness, Incoporated. Upon moving to Winnipeg, they added guitarist Paul Dean and drummer Matt Frenette in 1977. However, two records, Meanwhile Back in Paris and Under Heaven Over Hell, and a hit cover in Canada of the Rolling Stones‘ “Under My Thumb,” Dean and Frenette left to form Loverboy. They continued with other members, and managed to earn six gold and four platinum albums before breaking up in 1983.

Other hits included “Action,” “What Kind of Love Is This,” “Draggin’ You Down” and a cover of Them’s “Here Comes the Night.” The CBC says that, in their career they won two Ampex Golden Reel awards, a Music Express People’s Choice Award as Most Popular Canadian Act, a Juno Award and were inducted into the Western Canadian Music Association Hall of Fame.

Billboard adds that Shields, Neill and founding keyboardist Daryl Gutheil reformed the band in 1999 with other members and had been mainstays on the Canadian circuit ever since.

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