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The Kelly Family Biography

Last updated: 08/04/2014 05:52:25 AM

The Kelly Family-photo
The history of the Kelly Family must be one of the most unusual band biographies there is. Back in 1966, dancer Barbara Ann and her husband Daniel Jerome Kelly leave the USA with the four children Danny, Caroline, Paul and Kathy and settle in southern Spain. Inspired by the ancient traditions of their new homeland, the children begin singing and dancing to folk music with their parents. Because they enjoy making music, they start appearing at birthday parties, weddings and local fiestas. Dan Kelly, whose work as an antiques dealer in Toledo makes him the family breadwinner from 1966 to 1972, gives up the business and starts singing with his children.

n 1973 the family moves to Pamplona and for a year, runs the artists' tavern "La Viana" there. Mother Barbara gives the children ballet lessons at home, and they take music lessons in the city of Talavera de la Reina. Under the name of the "Kelly Kids", the family make their Spanish television debut in 1975 and go on tour through Spain.

Their first trip to Italy in 1976 unexpectedly turns into the start of an extended tour of Europe. While Dan Kelly is showing his children the city of Rome, the Kellys' minibus is looted, leaving only their instruments and passports. Seriously short of money now, the family starts singing on the street. Passers-by stop in amazement, and the collecting-basket keeps filling up with money. At the end of the first day, Dan tells his children: "Kids, our life has changed!" They go on from Italy to Austria, Ireland, Germany and the Netherlands. 1977 sees the Kellys in Germany, where they are discovered as street musicians, and not long after that, they sign their first record contract.


They get their first Number 1 hit in Holland and Belgium in 1980 with "Who'll Come With Me (David's Song)" (and make 40 TV appearances), and in Germany, the single climbs to No. 15. Their English double-decker of those days, with its trademark logo "The Kelly Family", is a familiar sight.

The Kelly children's mother contracts breast cancer in 1981. The family returns to Pamplona, Spain. A year later, when mother Barbara Ann dies, it seems as if the dream that began so promisingly has come to an abrupt end. The Kellys take her last wish, "Keep on singing", as a promise to be fulfilled.


1983 sees the family return to Paris, and in 1986 they tour the streets of 20 US cities, finally coming back to Germany in 1988. They found their own record company, "KEL-Life", and settle down for a while: the houseboat "Sean O'Kelley", which they buy in Amsterdam in 1989, becomes their new permanent home. A new blow befalls the family in 1990: Father Dan has a stroke, is paralysed down his right side and is bedridden. The Kelly children go on tour alone for the first time. Thanks to his iron discipline, their father gets back on his feet, and for the first time since his illness, he appears with his kids in 1994 in front of 16,000 people on the stage of the Westfalenhalle in Dortmund.


he 1993 album "Wow" marks the start of a new era. Streets and tents have grown too small for the successful musical family. Their album "Over the Hump" seals their success in 1994 and brings the final breakthrough. The disc sells more than 4.5 million copies in Europe. The Kellys appear on almost all the popular TV shows. Their own TV specials are watched by an audience of millions. By 1995, the Kellys have won all the big viewers' and listeners' prizes: Bambi, Goldener Löwe, Golden BRAVO-Otto, Golden Europa, 2 Viva Comets and the German Video Prize. It's soon raining platinum and gold for their albums and singles. The family fills all Europe's football stadiums and makes its biggest live appearance in Vienna before an audience of 250,000.


he Kelly Family success continues with the album "Almost Heaven" (1996). After moving to their new home of Eastgrove in southern Ireland, they pass another milestone with "Growin' Up" (1997). The family return to Germany in September 1998 and make their principal residence Schloss Gymnich (the former guest house for state visitors to Germany). The family go back on tour with their album "From Their Hearts" (1998). They mark their 25th anniversary with two Best Of albums (1999). Meanwhile, the Kellys are known on other continents, in countries such as China, South Africa and the USA.


With a total of over 15 million albums sold and over 2 million videos to their credit, the Kelly Family can look back after 27 years of band history on a thoroughly successful career. The album "Over the Hump", with which the Kelly Family made their definitive international breakthrough, has sold 3.5 million copies in Germany alone, making it Germany's all-time best-seller. Worldwide, the singing family have collected a stack of gold awards and 48 platinum discs to date.

In the spring of 2001 Angelo, Maite. Paddy, Barby, Joey, Jimmy and Patricia went into studio in the south of france and recorded their 15th studio album "La Patata" (named after one of the Kellys favoured restaurant), which was released on the 8th of April 2002. They also performed over 80 concerts throuout the whole of europe.

Due to the decreased health from his operation before christmas (2001) Daniel Jerome Kelly peacefully passed away at the age of 71 on the 5th of August 2002 surrounded by his family at home. Shortly after his burial in Irland and the memorial ceremonie for the public, the Kellys completed their schedule apperances and continued touring.

In this year of 2003 the band is perfoming some concerts across Europe, and they're in studio recording their new album.

Thanks to kelyluna for submitting the biography.


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