John Kezdy of influential Chicago punk band The Effigies dies at 64: Report

Reports are coming in that John Kezdy, vocalist of influential Chicago punk veterans The Effigies, has died at age 64 after a collision with a delivery van while biking. An article on Streets Blog Chicago reads in part:

Sadly, the Chicago punk rock community has lost a key member to a bike crash caused by a negligent driver. On Saturday night John Kezdy, 64, the singer for the The Effigies, founded in 1980, and an attorney, died from injuries sustained after a collision with an Amazon delivery van illegally stopped in a bike lane Wednesday afternoon in north-suburban Glencoe.

According a statement from the Glencoe Public Safety Department, on Wednesday, August 23, at around 4:15 p.m., police responded to a crash between Kezdy and the stopped delivery van.

[…] Kezdy was treated “with lifesaving measures” and taken to Evanston Hospital in critical condition, according to the GPSD statement. He was pronounced dead on the evening of Saturday, August 26.

Steve Albini wrote on Twitter, “John Kezdy was a hero of mine. Effigies were the first great band from Chicago’s scene, his stern, declamatory style influenced a generation and he helped me in material ways. Not overstating to say that without John and the Effigies, I would never have made any records.”

Tim Midyett of Silkworm, Bottomless Pit, and other bands wrote:

Requiescat John Kezdy–singer of the Effigies, IL state’s attorney, father, husband, pal. I met John Sept 1987 at WNUR, as a MT hick mostly out of my element at Northwestern. He was my “mentor” DJ, a seasoned Chicago ur-punk 10yrs my senior. I liked him immediately.

John was a punk rock combo of Jack London and Camus, a thinker, comically gruff but generous with his time and ideas. We were friends from that point forward. After I left NU, we saw each other at irregular intervals, picking up right where we left off in a typical dude way.

In the 90s John would come to Seattle to hike and hang out. One trip we went to the bookstore and bought these Drew and Josh Alan Friedman books–I remember I got Warts and All. We lounged around my living room reading them aloud to each other and laughing like little girls.

Kezdy was peculiarly social for someone whose personal ethos was based predominantly on the self. He had lot of faith in our power and wisdom as individuals that I didn’t share, but we didn’t discuss any of that much. What we had in common was abundant and enjoyable to pursue.

Similarly, “feelings” not a big topic of discussion. John was a man’s man, which has its appeal when there’s a heart behind it. You could tell when he liked/respected people based on how he interacted with them. And he loved his wife Erica, his kids Lena and Lucas.

I saw John a few weeks ago at our summer barbecue. He and Erica missed it the previous year. They got shot that day at the Highland Park 4th of July parade. We talked about the capriciousness of life for a few minutes…and almost visibly shrugged it off. What’s the point?

We laughed at our machinations against aging. John was kicking against it with all he had. I wish very much he was still able to do it. Yet more grateful to have even known him. I will make my default memory of him giggling at cartoons, for the rest of my life. He’d like that.

The Effigies were initially around between 1980 and 1990, during which time they released three full-length albums, two 12″ EPs, and one 7″ single. They reunited in 2004 and released the new album Reside in 2007. John also played in the short-lived band The Corrosives. His brother Pierre Kezdy, who played in the influential Chicago punk band Naked Raygun, passed away in 2020.

Rest in peace, John.

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