R.I.P., Run Westy Run founding member Kyle Johnson

Kyle Jason Johnson, who played bass and rhythm guitar for Minneapolis rock band Run Westy Run, died among family and friends on Friday. Born September 1, 1959, he was 54.

He is survived by his two beautiful children. "He was a very creative and talented artist and musician, and he was loved and supported by many family members and close friends," says his sister, Kelly (Johnson) Abernathy.

The band initially featured three St. Louis Park-bred Johnson brothers -- Kirk, Kraig, and Kyle -- as well as close friend Terry Fisher. Run Westy Run packed a furious punch during the band's late-'80s and early '90s heyday. Their loud, uproarious sound incorporated elements of the blues and punk, and could always whip up a crowd. They released three full-length albums. Hardly Not Even (1987) and a self-titled release (1988) came out via SST Records, and Green Cat Island followed on Twin/Tone in 1990. R.E.M.'s Peter Buck was regularly enlisted for production work.

Here's the band live at First Avenue in 1990:

After a major-label deal with A&M stalled, the band dissolved around 1998, and an album called Cockroach Park never made it out.

Last year, Run Westy Run got back together for their first shows in more than 15 years, including a headlining show at First Avenue in late December. "We used to always do Christmas shows so when this came together it just felt right," Kraig told Gimme Noise. "The main thing about it was just to get together in a room to see what happens. Half the band was my family." During this period, Kyle met with the band, but didn't perform with them.

On Saturday, this message was posted to Kyle Johnson's Facebook page by Kelly (Johnson) Abernathy:

As many of you already know, our dear brother Kyle passed away yesterday. His family was blessed with time to surround him with our love and support and say our goodbyes. On behalf of our family we would like to thank all his friends for their friendships, love and support that you shared with Kyle over the years. He holds a special place in our hearts and we will carry him with us in the days ahead. Kyle has a big heart and a kind soul and we will miss him so much.

Be free Kyle and soar!
We love you dearly!

"Those guys were tighter than tight," says long-time friend of the family Ed Ackerson. "It's just incredibly sad to think of one of them gone."

Kyle Johnson's memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 23, at the Washburn-McReavy chapel in Edina between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. The family requests memorials be sent to Ruby and Jack Johnson in lieu of flowers.

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