Kenny Shields honoured in hometown

A Canadian rock legend has been honoured by his hometown.

Nokomis officially unveiled a pair of signs welcoming visitors to the home of Kenny Shields on Sept. 1.

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“I know how much this day would have meant to Kenny. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over a year since his passing. It seems like yesterday but then again it feels like a lifetime,” said Michael Rodrigues, who spoke on behalf of Shields’ family.

“Kenny was dreaming for this day to happen as he thought it never would. His legacy lives strong and he is here today with us in spirit.”

The idea for the sign to honour the Streetheart front-man came from Bonnie Decker, after watching Shields and Streetheart play a show in Regina in March 2017.

“I was on the Streetheart site the next day and someone mentioned that they had come through Nokomis on purpose to see where Kenny Shields lived. He said he was surprised that there was nothing up to honour him.”

Decker said after some thought she realized while the community does have a section of the museum dedicated to Shields, most people passing through would not know that, so she decided to try and raise money to have signs created.

“Unfortunately we did not get organized until after Kenny’s passing – and I felt bad about that – but I hope he’s watching from heaven today,” she said.

Shields was born in Nokomis in 1947 and grew up in the small-town Saskatchewan community.

Shields moved to Saskatoon to attend university and joined a local band known as Witness Incorporated.

That band took off quickly, touring the country as an opening act for bands including Roy Orbison and Cream.

A car accident in 1970 put Shields’ career on hold, but by 1975 he returned to music.

In the years afterwards, Shields would work with other performers, eventually creating a band, which would eventually become known as Streetheart.

Shields and Streetheart toured the country from 1977 to 1983, at which point the band broke up.

Streetheart would reunite in 1999, where Shields remained until his passing.

“For 40 years Kenny Shields was the voice and front man of Streetheart. From the very beginning his unique singing style and compelling delivery helped the band gain national recognition and earn a legion of loyal fans from coast to coast.

With none more loyal than in Kenny’s home province of Saskatchewan,” said Don Windsor on behalf of Jeff Neill and the rest of Streetheart.

While Shields was busy touring the country with Streetheart, the Nokomis native never forgot his roots, with Neill writing that coming home when he had time was always very important to Shields.

“Kenny always spoke fondly of his days growing up in Nokomis and during the heydays of Streetheart he would return home whenever time allowed to visit with his mom, his dad and his family,” he said. “Today life comes full circle and we are most grateful to everyone who has contributed to the realization of these signs to commemorate Nokomis’ most famous son.”

The signs are a small gesture recognizing Shields’ contributions to not only his community but the Canadian Rock and Roll scene, said Nokomis mayor David Mark.

“This community is better and stronger for having someone like Kenny call this place his hometown.”

It’s ironic, said Senator David Tkachuk, that Shields would be honoured in his hometown, where he is a great representation of many small Saskatchewan towns.

“He is a testament to his family and to all of you. And to your moms and dads; he was Nokomis.”

A lot of work went into turning the signs from dream to reality, and Decker thanked everyone who helped bring the signs to reality.

© 2018 Virden Empire-Advance

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