Personally I doubt that Kenny isn't surprised by how things have turned out in the slightest - except possibly in the positive... in that, I think he likely succeeded at totally accomplishing what he set out to do.I would be willing to guess that twenty years ago, Kenny never imagined he'd be doing sessions in a cartage space with a combined mic setup that cost less than a single ELA-M 251, and supplementing his income by being a freelance inspirational speaker.
You seem to be conflating the lives and goals of artists with the lives and goals of working musicians. Imagining that because that Kenny and John Fogarty play on the same album together or Burt Bacharach and I have ridden the same tour bus together that we are in any way beyond the same.
Perceiving inequities in this, I guess makes sense, if one subscribes to the notion that the world of music mainly follows the "all for one, one for all, we all grew up together, rock band" structure - which, of course, couldn't be further from the truth. That "band of brothers" model is really very much the exception, not the rule.
It seems obvious to me that - artist and sideman - are two completely different career paths. With the former offering far greater potential for great wealth and a far greater possibility of ending up a failure and working in a body shop - while the latter (being a sideman), though certainly insecurity - still offers many multitudes of paths to a more modest success.
Kenny's first big gig was as a sideman with Mellancamp - and to the greatest degree, he's just worked and worked to become the top flight, A-List sideman that he's been for years now.
Those big stars can burn very brightly with some actually amassing and holding onto great wealth, while others go down in flames just as dramatically. But a great working man of a player's success isn't tied to any one star - and the really capable ones are able to adapt to changing trends and the general ebb and flow of the industry as a whole.
As for the implied inequity, I disagree. I've known many a player to get all cynical and sour over this perception. And I think it is totally unfounded. Yes there can be unscrupulous artist that will sing the "we're all in this together" song to enlist support and sacrifice from player's for their dream, for their brass ring. The old "we just have to all take a hit on this tour, so we can get this first album across - then things will get a lot better. The part left said, of course, being that the artists career will be successfully launched and the sideman with be awarded hopefully with the opportunity to work a job that just pays what it should.
But that doesn't mean the structure is wrong - just that some folks are sharks and some folks gullible and naive (and/or just want the opportunity to do it - to gain experience or just have the experience).
But professionally - artist put skin in the game - sometimes lots of it. I've done promotional tours that artists just paid for out of their pockets - because it was the right thing for their careers.
And I took their money and offered no discount - because their investment had nothing to with my career - but their paying me did.
Like myself - sidemen by definition take no big risks, make no big investments, we insist on getting paid as we go - and so really have zero claim on any portion of the pot of gold that some of our employers are able to procure.