Anyway, Rexroth was over a decade older than most of the beats and started much earlier- started publishing in the 30's and hit his stride in the 40's (major work "The Phoenix & The Tortoise" is from '44). He was often referred to as "the father of the beats"- primarily because of him acting as master of ceremonies at the Six Gallery reading which was the debut of "Howl"- but always resented the term and I've generally never found his work very similar to beat poetry even though the influence is apparent.
The "other Kenneth"- Patchen, that is (#19 on my list)- was another proto-beat poet whose work is arguably far closer in spirit to the beats. He's also quite good and is superior to most of the beats except perhaps Ferlinghetti (need to read more of Patchen's stuff IMO).
"On the Road is more compelling if you see it within the wider story of Kerouac's depression, isolation, alcoholism, etc. It's much sadder and more ironic."
Agreed and "Big Sur" helps fill in some of those blanks as well.