Parks lauds Pat Kelly

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 22, 2019

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WHILE bandleader Lloyd Parks was aware that Pat Kelly had health challenges, the singer's passing last Tuesday came as a shock.

“I knew his was ill and, at one point, he was in New York getting treatment. But yuh still nuh expect dat,” Parks, leader of veteran backing band We The People, told the Jamaica Observer. “He wasn't a just friend; he was a mentor.”

Kelly died of kidney failure in the Kingston Public Hospital in downtown Kingston. He was believed to be in his 70s.

Parks gave him high marks as a vocalist.

“When I first heard You Don't Care, I thought this is one of the greatest voices out of Jamaica,” he said. “Pat is among Jamaica's top four singers; I'm talking like the Dennis Browns, the John Holts, the Beres Hammonds, and the Slim Smiths. If you listen to How Long, you can hear it… He has this Sam Cooke/Curtis Mayfield sound. He was an excellent singer,” he said.

Brown and Holt died in July 1999 and October 2014, respectively. Smith, who Kelly succeeded as lead singer of ska/rocksteady group, The Techniques, died in 1973.

Kelly began his recording career in the mid-1960s as a solo act for his schoolmate and producer, Bunny Lee. However, he came to prominence came as a member of The Techniques for producer Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label.

As a member of The Techniques, he sang lead on hit songs like I Wish it Would Rain and Love Is Not A Gamble.

During the 1970s, Kelly had several hits including Talk About Love and Night And Day. In the 1990s, he was part of a revived Techniques alongside Parks and Johnny Johnson, who helped spark a rocksteady renaissance.

“I enjoyed the moments singing with Pat and Johnny Johnson. We had fun,” said Parks.

“The last time I saw Pat perform was about three years ago, at my Genuine Gold concert at Coral Center for The Performing Arts (in Florida). He had a limp, but his voice was excellent,” Parks continued.

Though he is best known as a Curtis Mayfield-inspired vocalist, Kelly had a degree in audio electronics from Massachusetts College of Technology. He worked as an audio engineer on recording sessions for Gregory Isaacs, Delroy Wilson, and Johnny Clarke.

“Pat was not an on-the-street everyday or club person, he's the kinda locked-in person; but once yuh get fi know him, you will find out say him nice,” Parks added.

Kelly is survived by widow Jackie and three children — two sons and a daughter.


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