Kelly Family biography
The Kelly Family is one family, but in the same time - a multicultural band, who played music in the styles of Pop, Rock, Folk and even Jazz. The main feature of the band was not only nine siblings, singing and playing beautiful music, but the sincerety of this music, the choir, simple but lovely lyrics and the culture of the family. The band started their career in early 1980s and since than sold over 20 millon copies of their albums. They are the autors of the biggest selling pop album in German history - Over The Hump .
For many years, the group presented a unique 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 home-made clothing and the very long hair worn by both male and female members of the band. In recent years they have presented a more modern look.
Everything started from their father - Daniel Jerome, Dan for short, who was born 11th of October 1930 in Michigan, USA. He grew up to be a teacher and professor in math, Lateen and philosophy. He also owned an antique shop. Dan married Joanne in 1957, and they got 4 children, Danny (1961), Caroline (1962), Kathy (1963) and Paul (1964). Danny was retarded.
In the USA the family lived a modern life with TV, radio and two cars. But Dan got sick of the "American Life". He wanted his kids to grow up in a safe environment, which he meant they wouldn't find in the US. May 1965 they moved to Europe and Spain.
In Spain they had no electricity, no car, but they were happy. Dan opened an antique shop in Talavera. One of his employers was Barbara Ann Suokko. Soon they fell in love, and on the 6th of November 1970, they got married in New York. The only thing we know about Joanne is that she went back to the USA after a while and joined a convict.
In 1967 Dan and Barbara's first child, John, was born in Talavera. They moved to a little village outside of Toledo, called Gamonal. There Patricia came in 1969, Jimmy in 1971 and Joey in 1972.
At this time the oldest kids started to sing together for family and friends, just as a hobby. They sang for fun, to entertain themselves. They started to learn some instruments, and some of them took ballet lessons.
The kids didn't go to school, but were taught by their parents and their uncle Jim. Once a year they took a test from an international school to be sure they weren't missing anything.
In 1974 they played together for the first time as a band called "The Kelly Kids". The band consisted of Kathy, John, Paul and Caroline. They played at Christmas, birthday and village parties. People wanted them to play everywhere and they got a few fans in their little village.
In 1975 they performed at a Spanish TV-show for kids. They got famous over night and that was the beginning of their carrier. They took part in many TV-shows and they also sang at a circus.
The same year Barby was born. She was born when they were touring the streets in Spain, in a little town called Belascoain.
It was only the oldest kids who were singing on the streets, but little Patricia also wanted to come along. Her father said that she was too young, but if she learned to play the guitar on all the songs within two weeks she could join them. Patricia sat down with the guitar and two weeks later she was singing on the street with the rest of the family, playing the guitar.
They opened an artist's pub in Belascoain/Pamplona called "La Viana".
Mama Kelly gave them ballet and dance lessons at home, and a music teacher gave them music lessons in the city of Talavera.
In 1976 they went on their first trip to Italy, which was the start of an extensive European tour. They toured around in Europe, mostly Germany, Italy and Holland.
In 1977 they went to Ireland where Paddy was born. They played at some TV-shows and collected money for a children hospital. They stayed for 5 months, before they moved back to Spain.
In 1978 they bought a double Decker bus in USA, which have become one of their trademarks. They went on tour around with their bus in Spain and Germany.
In Germany they played at a circus called Roncalli and they also played on the streets. A producer discovered Kathy and John one day they were singing on the street. He wanted to make a LP with them and short time after they released their first single called "Danny Boy". This was a great hit in Germany and Holland. They got more and more fans around in Europe.
In 1979 Maite was born in Berlin. At the same time they recorded their first LP called "The Kelly Family". Later that year they found out that Mama Kelly had cancer. They knew now that she was sick, but they discovered it at an early time.
In 1980 they had their first nr.1 hit on the lists in Holland and Belgium, with the song "Who'll Come With Me" (David's Song) sung by 12-year-old John. They played at over 40 TV-show in a few months, and they got more and more famous. At this time they settled in Amsterdam, Holland.
In 1981 their mother's illness got worse and they moved back to Belascoain in Spain. Late this year her last child came into the world with a caesarean. She was too sick to have a normal birth. They thought he looked like an angel and therefore called him Angelo Gabriele. Her last wish was to make a Christmas video with all her children. The last shot was taken 2 weeks before she died in November 1982. Every night the weeks before she died, the family was gathered around her bed and they were preparing the children on their mother's death. Her last words were "Keep on singing", and these words symbolize a promise for The Kelly Family.
Mama Kelly lays burried in Belascoain and on her grave there are 14 handprints, one of all the 12 children and 2 of some friends. It is also a saying from Papa Kelly: "All my sufferings of my whole body to her as a sacrifice". After her death they had a year they didn't play that much, but they still remembered her last words.
In 1981 they also started their own company called "Kel-life". Dan wanted to have control over all the LP's The Kelly Family made; they were tired of being pushed around with.
In 1983 they moved to Paris and started to sing in the French Metro. At this time Caroline had left the familyband and Paul was next. Caroline went to the US and she had taken Danny with her. Today he lives with his uncle Jim. In Paris Paul started working as a cook.
It was in France the boys let their hair grow long. Jimmy was the one who started what would be one of The Kelly Family's trademarks in the future.
In 1985 they took part in a French TV-show and released a single called "Une Familie C'est Une Chanson".
In 1987 they went to America and performed in the streets of twenty different US cities, before returning to Germany in 1988 and a new home on the riverboat "Sean O'Kelley", moored on the Rhine River in Cologne.
In 1988 they rented a tent with the capacity to room 6000 people. It was a big risk, because they didn't know how many people who would show up on the two concerts. It was a big success and they were sold out on both concerts.
In 1990 another family tragedy struck: their father Dan suffered a stroke, his right side was paralysed, and he was confined to his bed. For the first time ever, the siblings went on tour alone. Thanks to his iron will and discipline, Dan Kelly recovered from his stroke (and after his recovery, he appeared on stage together with his children, for the first time, in 1994).
By this time, The Kellys had already performed in nearly every European country, and their formerly green, later red double-decker bus with the big "The Kelly Family" sign was known everywhere and had become something of a trademark.
December 14th 1992 Kathy gave birth to her son, who got the name Sean after their ancestor. Sean's father is Vincent Van Hille who Kathy met in France 1987. They got married in Paris in 1990. The little family lived on a little boat next to the big houseboat.
In 1993 the album WOW was released. It was the starting point of a new era. The streets and tents no longer offered enough space for audiences at the performances by the successful family of musicians.
In 1994 they had the final breakthrough with the album "Over The Hump". More than four million units of this album were sold in Europe. It was the first CD they sold in shops, they had always sold their own CD's in the streets. The song "An Angel", the first single from the album, was sung in all homes. "An Angel" was the biggest hit the Kellys had had so far. It was on the German hit lists for over a year. The Kellys were guest stars on all the popular TV shows of Europe and even had their own TV specials, watched by millions of fans.
In 1995 they received all of the most sought-after awards: "Bambi", "Goldener Löve", "Goldener Bravo Otto", "Viva Comet", "German Video Award" etc… etc… The Kelly Family was showered with gold and platinum records and their success continued. In August 1995 they performed at Loreley Waldbühne. It was the first time they hold a live concert on TV. Millions of people watched it on TV that evening and over 25000 people were at the concert.
In 1996 the Kellys went on a big European stadium tour, which was an enormous success. At this time Patricia's illness, which she became in 1993 and nobody knows what was, got worse and was absented from almost all the concerts that year. The same year the album "Almost heaven", which has sold to multi-platinum all over Europe, was released. The first single from the album, "I Can't Help Myself" had great success, (also in Norway, EMI-Norway had till then never sold that many copies of one single). The song, written by 13-year-old Angelo in 15 minutes, went straight to the top in almost every European country. (In Norway it stayed on the hit lists as number one for many months).
That year the siblings bought a big mansion called East-Grove in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland. Two years later, in summer 1998, they sold it and bought a castle, Schloss Gymnich, close to Cologne, Germany.
Late 1997 Jimmy went to Dublin, Ireland, to study film. He made a short film called Fortune's Fool, which became the Best Short Film at the Cork Film Festival 1998.
August 1998, six and a half year old Sean started school in Cologne after having a private teacher since he was five years old. Kathy decided to take a break from the tour because of Sean.
About the same time Sean started school, Adam Kelly, son of Papa Kelly's younger brother Henry, started performing with his cousins in The Kelly Family.
In 1999 Papa Kelly suffered from a second stroke. Luckily, this time it wasn't a serious one.
During the Kosovo War, the siblings gave their contribution to help the children of Kosovo, by releasing a single for Unicef, to raise money. Also two "Best Of" albums were released late this year in connection to their anniversary coming up in the year 2000.
The Kelly Family's Christmas tour 1999 was a bit special, not only for the Kellys, but also for the fans: the whole family was again together on stage after some years with a lot of changes. Jimmy had come from Ireland to join his siblings and Patricia, after years with headaches and feeling not a 100 percent healthy, was again on stage.
In the year 2000 the family celebrated their 25years anniversary. Kathy released the same year her first real solo album; "Morning Of My Life". Unfortunately the album didn't become the success she hoped for. She had earlier released "The Best of Kathy Kelly", but with her siblings singing along on most of the songs. She decided to leave the group and go solo. John went on an indefinite break from the band in 2000, but never came back. Four years later he officially said he wouldn't be coming back.
June 29th 2000, Tanja and Joey's first-born-child came into this world on a hospital in Krefeld, Germany. He got the name Luke Christopher. A year later, Kira and Angelo became the proud parents of little Gabriel, born July 3rd (2001) in Cologne, Germany. The same year Patricia and Denis got their first born, also this time another Kelly boy, Alexander Joseph, who was born in Cologne, Germany, 30.10.2001. A new Kelly generation is growing strongly! At this time the family member started to move out of Schloss Gymnich and get their own apartments.
2002. A new look, lots of changes and new songs. The CD "La Patata" was released in March and now the band consisted of only six members, although Barby sang along at the new album. In February, the band took part in the German Grand Prix with Maite's song "I Wanna Be Loved", but they came fourth and didn't get the chance to play for Germany in the Euro Song Contest. In April, Paddy decided to cut his hair! He followed in his brother Jimmy's footstep and said good bye to the long hair. The family and fans were shocked at first, but it didn't take long to get used to his new look, which suits him well.
August 2002. The Family is again in sorrow. After their mother's death in 1982, they must cope with another great loss; their beloved father (71) passes away August 5th after a long-term illness. He was buried in Darrara, County Cork in Ireland the 9th of August. Schloss Gymnich is now empty.
Three months after Papa Dan's passing, a new member in the family was born. Angelo and Kira's second child, this time a girl, came on November 5th (2002). She was given the name Helen Josephine. The family's first DVD "La Patata" was released in December this year.
February 2003 Paddy released his first solo single called "Pray Pray Pray". His solo album "In Exile" was released on St. Patrick's Day a month later; March 17th. The second solo single from Paddy followed some months later; "When You Sleep". The Kelly Family released no new album this year, but they started working on one to be released 2004. The second DVD though was released in December; "Cover The Road".
2004.The latest addition to the big family came as Joey and Tanja became parents for the second time. Leon saw the light of day on January 20th. The same month the single "Flip A Coin" was released as the first one in connection to the new album to come. The second single called "Blood" followed some months later.The newest album "Homerun" is a double-album, where the first disc is called "Home" and the second called "Run".
At the beginning of the year, the family signed up at Circus Roncalli as the houseband, and they did also take part in some of the acts. Simultaneously as their Homerun-Tour was going on, the band gave two concerts every Sunday from May till September at Phantasialand in Brühl, Germany.
2005. The Kellys took a six month long break from October 2004 till April 2005. Maite spent the time in Togo, Africa, working on a project for children. Paddy went to France to live in a monastry where he studied philosophy and other subjects. When the tour started in Holland in April, both Maite and Paddy were absent. Maite didn't make it because of her commitment to the Togo-project, but she will come back on stage when her work in Togo is done. With Paddy it's still uncertain as he's searching for the meaning of life.
2008. Paddy has joined the monastery and became a monk. He can be seen playing religious songs at christian youth festivals in Europe. Maite is now married and a mother, while Angelo, Patricia, Kathy and Jimmy have their own music careers. John is married to Maite Itoiz; the couple performs together.