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Rock: Progressive Rock Moods: Type: Instrumental Rock: Avant-Prog

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Tom Kelly

Thomas Hamer Kelly V was born on April 18, 1952 and grew up in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. His mother took him to a concert by Andres Segovia when Tom was 5 and thus began his great love affair with the guitar. His mother procured one for him and found a student of Segovia’s to give him lessons. He eventually learned other instruments, especially keyboards of all kinds, but the guitar was his first and deepest commitment.

Inspired by classical composers like Claude Debussy and Gustav Holst and the burgeoning music of the 60’s, especially psychedelic and classical rock, he began composing his own songs and formed several bands. “Still,” “Yellow Autumn,” and Museum,” were the three that were precursors to his longest-lived collaboration, “Mistress Quickly,” (named for the Shakespearean character).

By the time Museum was formed in 1971 he was writing all of his original music in notation, which he would hand out for the band members to learn and perform. He wrote primarily symphonic rock that carried his own particular stamp, certainly in what now would be called the Progressive vein, yet firmly in his distinctive style, classically inspired, with multiple time signature changes and often quixotic lyrics with a penchant for quick, dark humour. It was described by a music producer of the time as “chamber music for electric instruments.”

Mistress Quickly was selected to record some demos, but by the time they were done and delivered to the recording company, the Progressive wave was over and Disco was lapping on the shores of the music industry. The record company lost interest, the band parted ways and Tom began to work solo, at which point he dispensed with lyrics, yet often continued the tradition of his lyrical style with the titling and subtitling of the material.

Three recordings, "Burnt Peas," "A Quail's House," and "Spinning Through Eternity," are being offered after his untimely death in 2017. They were composed and performed entirely by Tom alone in the years after Mistress Quickly's demise.

Review Snippets:

"The late Tom Kelly recorded three masterpiece albums that combined every imaginable style of music to create a completely unique musical amalgam of electronic symphonic fusion that transcends any style or genre." Archie Patterson, Promo for Eurock show #218 on HiLo Radio ~ Link to HiLo

“This isn't music designed to be played gentle in the background as the musician meanders through, but instead this is music with direction and force which demands to be heard front and centre….it is a real shame Tom didn't get to release it during his lifetime, as this is incredibly enjoyable and any fan of crossover or symphonic progressive rock should seek this out.” Kev Rowland, Prog Archives ~ Link to Review:

“It is a very clean album, so very easy to listen to, with a wonderful use of space as an additional instrument…the result being a complete piece of work which is a joy from start to end.” Kev Rowland, ProgArchives ~ Link to Review:

"…the majestic suite, (“The Book Wife Suite")…shows that Tom really shines when he has the time and space to really spread out his ideas.” Kev Rowland, ProgArchives ~ Link to Review:

"The posthumous release of the three albums is a fitting tribute to a skilful composer and multi-instrumentalist. Highly recommended for fans of symphonic prog." Gareth Page, ProgBlog ~ Link to Review:

“…they constitute in their entirety an absolute master craft of melodic, harmonic and tuneful musical assembly. It is in fact simply immense the depth and variety of the work which has been produced here.” Geoff Penn, ~ Link to Review:

"We can all now spend time with Tom Kelly and his individual, personal but still hugely engaging music. It’s a varied, skilled and rewarding journey to be a part of." Steven Reid, Sea of Tranquility ~ Link to Review:

Most frequently compared to Mike Oldfield, Steve Hackett, Anthony Phillips, The Enid and Gentle Giant, fans of these artists are likely to be interested to hear these recordings.

Portrait by David Harrer (AKA "Beans Morocco")

Tom has received Internet & Terrestrial Airplay on Aural Moon Radio; The Gagliarchives; Rick Dashiell’s The Rickter Scale on Delicious Agony; Archie Patterson’s Eurock Show on HiLo Radio; Between 2 Worlds on CRMK UK radio; Music for All Occasions on KSQD Santa Cruz Community Radio; The Tunesday Show on; The 7th House on House of Prog; Friday Night Progressive; Larne’s Finest on Progalley; Northern Star, The Progmeister, and The Prog Mill on Progzilla Radio; Prog Rock Nation on KTAL, Las Cruces Community Radio; Light Without Heat on Spreaker; and Monday Chemistry Sets & Through The Looking Glass on Deep Nuggets radio.