Speedy Keen

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Speedy Keen
Speedy Keen.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJohn David Percy Keen
Born(1945-03-29)29 March 1945
Ealing, London, England
Died12 March 2002(2002-03-12) (aged 56)
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsVocals, drums, guitar Hammond organ, keyboards
Years active1966–2002
LabelsTrack, Island, Roadrunner, Cleopatra
Associated actsThe Who, Thunderclap Newman, Motörhead

John David Percy "Speedy" Keen (29 March 1945 – 12 March 2002),[1] was a songwriter, vocalist, drummer and keyboard player, best known for his association with the rock band Thunderclap Newman. He wrote "Something in the Air" (1969) for the band, which reached No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart. He also released two solo albums.


Keen was born in Ealing, London. He played early on with such bands as The Krewsaders, The Second Thoughts (1964–65, with Patrick Campbell-Lyons and Chris Thomas) and The Eccentrics.[2] Keen's first recorded song was "Club of Lights", recorded in 1966 for Reaction Records by Oscar (Paul Nicholas).

Before joining Thunderclap Newman, Keen shared a flat with and worked as a chauffeur for Pete Townshend of The Who. He is famous among fans of The Who for writing "Armenia City in the Sky" which was included on the album The Who Sell Out (1967).[1] This was the only song The Who ever performed that was specifically written for the group by a non-member. "Armenia City in the Sky" was, apparently, inspired by a long-lost painting back in the 1960s. Though Pete Townshend, principal songwriter for The Who, claims that when Keen saw the name of the song on an album liner, he told Townshend that the name of the song was wrong. It should have read "I'm an Ear Sitting in the Sky".

He wrote "Something in the Air", his most well-known song, for Thunderclap Newman and recorded two solo albums for Track and Island both of which have been released on CD recently by Esoteric (Cherry Red). "I Promise You" from the second album was used in the American TV series, The Big C. Keen was later a record producer for The Heartbreakers and Motörhead.

As a session musician Keen played for others such as Rod Stewart, The Mission, and Kenny G. He also provided music for television advertisements and television programmes such as The Zoo. As a writer, apart from "Something in the Air", "Armenia City in the Sky" and "Club of Lights", he wrote songs for The Swinging Blue Jeans ("Something's Coming Along") and Crokodile Tears ("Your Love").

Keen died of heart failure in March 2002, seventeen days before his 57th birthday.[1]




  1. ^ a b c The Guardian obituaries – accessed July 2013
  2. ^ Warburton, Nick. "The Second Thoughts". The Strange Brew. Retrieved 7 December 2014.

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