The Kelly Family
|The Kelly Family|
Left to right: Jimmy, Patricia, Paddy, Kathy and John in 1989
|Also known as||The Kellys|
|Genres||Pop, pop rock, folklore|
|Years active||1970s – 2008|
|Labels||Kel-Life, EMI, BMG, Ariola, Polydor, Universal|
|Past members||Dan Kelly
The Kelly Family is an Irish-American-European music group consisting of a multi-generational family, who play a repertoire of rock, pop and folk music. They have had chart and concert success in Europe and other parts of the world, especially in Germany, the Benelux countries, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Spain and Portugal. They have sold over 20 million albums since the early 1980s.
For many years, the group presented a gypsy image and a vagabonding lifestyle, travelling around Europe in a double-decker bus and houseboat. Their image was enhanced by their eclectic and often homemade clothing, and the very long hair worn by both male and female members of the band. In recent years, they have presented a more mainstream look.
The group had its origins in May 1965, when Daniel Kelly Sr. and his first wife, Joanne, left their native United States, with their children Daniel Jr., Caroline, Kathleen and Paul, and settled in Spain, where Daniel opened an antiques shop. Kelly and Joanne separated, and Joanne returned to the US with Daniel Jr., who suffered from a disability. In 1970, Kelly married Barbara Ann Suokko. Daniel Kelly and Barbara had eight children, with the eldest, John, born in 1967, and the youngest, Angelo, in 1981. The children were homeschooled and given lessons in music and dance.
In 1974, the older children, Caroline, Kathy and Paul, formed The Kelly Kids, at first busking, then performing at parties and local events. They became well-known enough that they appeared on Spanish television in 1975. The band was joined by the younger members of the family as they matured and learned to play musical instruments. The band's popularity increased in Spain, with several performances on television and in circuses. In 1976, they went on tour as The Kelly Family, in Italy, Germany and Holland, followed by Ireland in 1977. Then, in 1978, they toured again, in their hallmark double-decker bus. Daniel Kelly and Barbara joined the children for performances, Barbara often performing with a baby in her arms.
In 1977, they landed a record contract in Germany. Their first major chart hit came in 1980, with the song "Who'll Come With Me (David's Song)", with John Kelly, aged 12, singing the solo. The song, with a Gaelic melody by Vladimir Cosma, was the theme to a German television production The Adventures of David Balfour, based on Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. The song hit number 1 in the Netherlands and Belgium, and it reached the top 20 in Germany.
Barbara Kelly died of breast cancer in 1982, shortly after the birth of the youngest child, Angelo. Her last words to her family were "Keep on singing!" The band continued to record, Daniel Kelly having formed his own recording company in 1980. As the older members of the family reached adulthood, Caroline and Paul left the band, Caroline to study nursing and Paul to become a chef. In 1990, Daniel Kelly suffered a stroke, but he remained a leading figure in the group until his death in 2002.
The Kelly Family continued recording and performing, covering famous songs such as "We are the World" and "The Rose", but writing most of their own music based on family and personal experience, their Catholic faith and their worldview. Songs include "Santa Maria"; "Why, Why, Why"; "An Angel"( sing: "Sometimes I wish I were an angel"), the video of which popularised a younger family member Paddy; "Break Free", a fan favorite, song by Barby, the haunting "Mama", in which Barbara Kelly is mourned by her children; and "The Pee Pee Song", in which the common childhood problem of bedwetting is celebrated by the raucous, flaxen haired baby-of-the-family Angelo.
In the 1990s, the group enjoyed their biggest success. Their 1994 album Over the Hump sold more than 2.25 million copies in Germany alone, and 4.5 million copies throughout Europe. In 1995, to promote the album, they played a concert to a Vienna audience of 250,000. In the same year they filled the Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, nine times in a row, a feat no other musician has since accomplished. In 1996 they headlined their first Stadium Tour, filling some of Europe's largest venues. They played in Beijing, China in front of 20,000 people. In 1998 they bought a castle, Schloss Gymnich, on the Rhine near Cologne, Germany. About the same time, Adam Kelly, son of Papa Kelly’s younger brother Henry, started performing with his cousins in The Kelly Family. Success continued until they started to disagree on a professional basis at the beginning of the year 2000. In 2002 Papa Kelly died from yet another stroke. That same year the family competed in the German Eurovision Song Contest with the song of Maite Kelly "I wanna be loved" and placed fourth.
In 2002, Barby's ongoing illness forced her retirement from the band and, to the disappointment of his fans, Paddy cut his long hair and joined a religious order in France. Members of the family continue to perform as soloists or together, or in combination with their partners, as both Jimmy and John married singers. Fan interest prompted a comeback with gigs in Germany in 2007.
|Daniel Jerome ("Dan")||11 October 1930||Erie, Pennsylvania, USA||Father and leader of the Kelly Family. Died, 5 August 2002, Cologne, Germany|
|Barbara Ann||2 June 1946||"Mama" of the Kelly Family. Died, 10 November 1982, Belascoain, Spain|
|Daniel ("Danny")||1961||USA||Performed with the Kelly Kids; lives in the USA, no children|
|Caroline||1962||USA||Performed with the Kelly Kids; works as a nurse in the USA, is married, no children|
|Kathleen Ann ("Kathy")||6 March 1963||Leominster, Massachusetts, USA||Tours with Kelly Family, gives solo concerts. Divorced with one son, Sean|
|Paul||16 March 1964||Leominster, Massachusetts, USA||One of Kelly Kids, rejoined Kelly Family. Married to Mary, six sons Clemont, Coco (Sean), Patrick, Yannick, Daniel, Micheal. and a daughter Brenda.|
|John Michael ("Johnny")||8 March 1967||Talavera de la Reina, Spain||Married to Maite (née Itoiz, b. 27 January 1975), no children|
|Maria Patricia ("Patricia")||25 November 1969||Gamonal, Spain||Married to Denis Sawinkin (b. 19 February 1973), two sons Alexander Joseph and Ignatius Aaron Maria|
|James Victor ("Jimmy")||18 February 1971||Gamonal, Spain||Married to Maike (née Höchst, b. 3 November 1980), two daughters Aimee Benedicta Maria and Máire Therese Seraphine|
|Joseph Maria ("Joey")||20 December 1972||Toledo, Spain||Married to Tanja (née Niethen, b. 25 January 1973), has two sons and a daughter; Luke Christopher, Leon Daniel and Lilian Ann|
|Barbara Ann ("Barby")||28 April 1975||Belascoain, Spain||Left the band in 2002, due to illness|
|Michael Patrick ("Paddy")||5 December 1977||Dublin, Ireland||Left band in early 2004, to study theology. He joined the Saint-John community where he was a monk, and had taken the name John Paul Mary. He recently quit the monastery and announced that he will be back into making music in 2011|
|Maite Star||4 December 1979||West Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany||Married to Florent Raimond (b. 5 January 1975), has two daughters Agnes Therese Barbara and Josephine Katherine Francoise|
|Angelo Gabriele||23 December 1981||Pamplona, Spain||Married to Kira (née Harms, b. 7 October 1979), has two sons and two daughters: Gabriel Jerome, Helen Josephine, Emma Maria and Joseph Ewan Gregory Walter|
For the solo recordings of the individual members please see Solo Recordings.
Joey Kelly, 2011
- Peter Wendling, Die Kelly Family, die Geschichte einer Supergruppe, Goldmann 1995 (German Book)
- Lisa Reinhard, Die Kelly Family und ihre Erfolge, Heyne 1995 (German Book)
- Official web site of Angelo Kelly
- Official web site of Maite Kelly
- Official web site of Paddy Kelly
- Official web site of Joey Kelly
- Official web site of Jimmy Kelly
- Official web site of Kathy Kelly
- German Fan page of the Kelly Family
- Detailed Kelly Family Tree