Mike Kellie, who played drums for Spooky Tooth, The Only Ones and a number of other acts, died on Wednesday, January 18 after a short illness.
Born in Birmingham, England, Kellie played in the St. Michaels Youth Club band leading to him being asked to join the local group Wayne and the Beachcombers.
At the age of 19, he started drumming for Locomotive and eventually moved to The V.I.P.’s which was managed by Chris Blackwell, future founder of Island Records. Changing their name to Art, they released the album Supernatural Fairy Tales on Island. In October of that year, Blackwell added singer Gary Wright and once again changed the group’s name, this time to Spooky Tooth.
In 1968, the new band released their debut album, It’s All About and, over the next two years, put out a total three more albums before temporarily splitting. Spooky Tooth came back together in 1972, releasing three more sets before breaking up again in late-1974.
August 1976 saw Kellie joining Peter Perrett and John Perry in The Only Ones. The group released three albums over three years for Columbia, The Only Ones (1978), Even Serpents Shine (1979) and Baby’s Got a Gun (1980). The Only Ones broke up in 1982.
Kellie, who was frustrated with the music business, took a four-year hiatus in a small town north of Toronto, learning to play piano and writing music. In 1985, he returned to England and began farming which he would continue into the new millennium.
The Only Ones reformed in 2007 and toured for the next three years. After another hiatus began in 2010, Kellie recorded his only solo album, Music From the Hidden.
A message posted on The Only Ones’ Facebook page said:
MIKE KELLIE. 1947-2017
We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of our friend and colleague Mike Kellie.
Kellie learned of his illness last September but, characteristically, chose to keep the diagnosis private.
We will post more, personal, appreciations in due course but, for the moment, we will recall the 40 years of music-making we shared with him. A gentleman, a friend and a fine musician. Our thoughts are with his family.
Peter and Zena Perrett, Alan Mair, John Perry.