MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — John Kilzer, a singer and songwriter from Tennessee whose music career spanned 30 years and who became a pastor after undergoing drug recovery, has died.
Kilzer's death was disclosed Tuesday by St. John's United Methodist Church in Memphis, where he served as an associate pastor for recovery ministries. A cause of death was not disclosed. The church said in a statement that it was a sudden death.
According to biographies on websites for the church and Archer Records, the Jackson, Tennessee-native recorded two albums under the Geffen label, "Memory in the Making" in 1988 and "Busman's Holiday" in 1991. Roseanne Cash, Trace Adkins and Maria Muldaur recorded his songs.
John Kilzer and the Scars were scheduled to play at the Beale Street Music Festival in May.
An autopsy is now being performed in Minnesota.
Kilzer, who grew up in Jackson, Tennessee as a 6-foot-6-inches tall high school all American basketball standout, came to Memphis to play for the Tigers from 19-75 to ’78.
Kilzer, 62, traded the complimentary tickets players receive with Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, author of the hit “Take Me to the River” in exchange for guitar lessons. He also earned a master’s degree in English.
Kilzer learned music so well he became a Geffen Records recording artist himself, appearing regularly on M-Tv with his biggest pop hit 1988’s “Red Blue Jeans.”
Kilzer’s music went on hiatus for a time, until after his self-revealed recovery from alcohol and drug abuse.
A poet at heart, Kilzer earned a doctorate in Theology, attended seminary, was ordained and joined the staff of St. John United Methodist Church where he performed each Friday night at a service called THE WAY, a ministry to recovering people as well as the homeless.
Kilzer also just released a new album in January that gained wide acclaim.
“John was my dear, dear friend. He had a heart of gold,” said Dr. Scott Morris, Founder of Church Health and associated minister. “He cared for more people than we could ever count. He often said we have a God-sized hole in our hearts. For me and so many, that hole is beyond comprehending.”