Pat Kelly hailed as great talent

Pat Kelly hailed as great talent

Observer writer

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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WITH Tuesday's passing of veteran singer Pat Kelly, broadcaster/show promoter Michael Barnett says Jamaica's music fraternity has lost a great talent.

“He has made a fantastic contribution to Jamaican music. He was also a studio engineer for many years, so he mixed a lot of songs from that era and this was probably why his songs were so well-tuned. He has had songs to top the charts in England … and in Jamaica. He definitely had one of the best voices,” Barnett told the Jamaica Observer.

Kelly, who was believed to be in his early 70s, died yesterday in Kingston of kidney complications.

Barnett said although Kelly was an introvert, he knew how to captivate an audience.

“I've always known of him. I was a music collector from way back in the 60s and followed his career. I started shows like Get Ready Rocksteady and Heineken Startime. When we were doing Get Ready Rocksteady, we wanted to use him,” Barnett recalled. “He's very humble and quiet and didn't love excitement or anything. I had to use artistes from abroad, so I called all my contacts in England trying to reach him. A friend of mine said: 'Pat lives in Jamaica' and I said: 'No. I don't see him or anything'. All along he lived in Meadowbrook, so when I found him, I said 'You've been here all this time?,' and I booked him for Get Ready on March 4, 1990. Him mash up di place. People hadn't heard him for decades and that show brought him back to forefront. He even got back on the charts in England, Europe and Japan. I worked with him two times as 'Pat Kelly' and two times with The Techniques,” he added.

Kelly had been recording since the mid-1960s. His career started as a solo act for his schoolmate and producer, Bunny Lee, but his first taste of success came as a member of rocksteady group The Techniques for producer Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label.

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

Kelly went solo again in 1968 with the song Little Blue Boy. With The Techniques out of the picture, The Uniques handled the backing vocals on a series of tracks that included remakes of Daddy's Home, I'm in the Mood for Love and You Are Not Mine.

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

Though he is best-known as a Curtis Mayfield-inspired vocalist, Kelly also earned 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.

Barnett, who works at Kool FM, said Kelly's songs are an integral part of his playlist.

“There are songs that he did with The Techniques that you have to play. The Techniques' You Don't Care For Me At All, I'm In The Mood For Love and There Comes A Time are all classics. As Pat, he had a number one song in England called How Long. They put strings on the version in England which made it one of the first reggae songs with strings. Even Josey Wales' Undercover Lover was done on that rhythm, because of the admiration he (Josey) had for him,” said Barnett.

Kelly is survived by his widow, Jackie Kelly.

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