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In the decade before the far-reaching telephone call that started The Blues Band, Paul had been a hard-working actor, mainly in London’s West End but also on Broadway (he lived in New York for a year). But always at heart he was a bluesman.
Having declined Brian Jones’ invitation to join the fledgling Rolling Stones in 1962, Paul accepted the very next offer, a job with the group which soon became Manfred Mann. Later known as a pop group (Do Wah Diddy, Pretty Flamingo) they began as an R&B band, and would find themselves playing with Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Spann, and Matt “Guitar” Murphy.
Over the years, Paul’s songs have been recorded by people like Ten Years After, Al Kooper and Carlos Santana – and the earliest line-up of Steppenwolf. He has also written for films, television and commercials. As a harmonica man, he has performed publicly and/or recorded with Memphis Slim, Alexis Korner, Henry Gray, Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, Susan Tedeschi, Eric Bibb, Otis Grand – hardly to mention the likes of Tina Turner and the Royal Ballet Sinfonia.
The list of guests on his programmes on BBC Radio 2 and Jazz FM is encyclopaedic, from Luther Allison to Axel Zwingenburger, and including B B King, Koko Taylor, Curtis Mayfield, Jimmy Witherspoon and scores more.
On 11/4/01 on BBC television, Paul proved to be a popular recipient of the famous THIS IS YOUR LIFE big red book.If there is such a thing as a British ‘blues pedigree’, then Dave Kelly’s sets the standard. Kelly is a blues craftsman – a journeyman who has served his time with the best.
In New York he jammed with Muddy Waters. He became a friend to Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker, who both felt the benefit of Dave’s playing in their touring bands. It was Dave’s big sister, the late Jo-Ann Kelly, who first opened his ears to the blues, although his passion for rock and roll – and especially the work of Buddy Holly – remains intact. In 1967 he joined The John Dummer Blues Band. After three albums and a solo project he continued to polish his style and technique throughout an adventurous career with some of Britain’s finest players. When The Blues Band was formed in 1979, the post of slide guitarist and joint vocalist was a foregone conclusion – and bringing his friend, the bassist Gary Fletcher, along to that first rehearsal, was a bonus. Dave Kelly’s guitar and vocals form the very backbone of The Blues Band’s distinctive sound.
Today, after 21 years ‘treading the boards’ with the band, with his solo albums, duo tours with Paul Jones, and soundtrack work (for commercials and such projects as BBC TV’s ‘King of the Ghetto’ and the Comic Strip’s ‘Strike!’) Dave Kelly is firmly estabished as Europe’s premier blues performer.