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Caption: Kevin Lee Carlson, a guitarist for the Aldo Nova band, died of cancer Dec. 12, 2010. (Kim Bousson)

FREMONT -- Kevin Lee Carlson, a guitarist who toured North America and Europe in the 1980s with the Aldo Nova band, died Sunday after an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 53.

Born in Plainfield, N.J., on March 12, 1957, Carlson began playing the accordion, guitar, clarinet and keyboards by age 6. He lived in Fremont for 12 years, attending Mission San Jose High School, and over the years he played in Bay Area bands such as the Toys, the Eric Martin Band, and most recently the P-Town Rockers.

From 1982 to 1984, he toured the United States, Canada and Europe as guitarist for Canadian rocker Aldo Nova, whose 1981 eponymous debut album reached No. 8 on the Billboard 200 and eventually went double platinum.

"When he toured with Aldo, it was all over the United States, Canada and Europe," said his ex-wife, Kim Bousson. "It was a different state every night, a different country every night."

They played alongside bands and performers such as Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Sammy Hagar and Heart. MTV produced and aired five Aldo Nova music videos.

Carlson continued to be active in the music world throughout his life, making countless lifelong friends, Bousson said.

Carlson was soft-spoken, modest and had a very positive outlook on life, which served him well during his illness, Bousson said.

"He had such a gift of being positive," she said. "I think he taught us a lot that last month of his life."

Carlson also is survived by his son, Aric Carlson, of Orange; mother Josephine Carlson, of Colorado; brother Richard Carlson, of Colorado; aunt Viola Carlson, of North Carolina; and cousins Annalisa, Brandon and Brianna Long, of North Carolina, and Nils Carlson, of Las Vegas. He was preceded in death by his father, Nils Carlson, and uncle, Sven Carlson.

A life celebration will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Crosswinds Church, 6444 Sierra Court, Dublin. It will be a potluck, and friends are welcome to attend.