Feature Stories, In Memoriam

Spooky Tooth/Only Ones Drummer Mike Kellie Passes

Mike Kellie Spooky Tooth
Mike Kellie, center, as he appeared on the cover of Spooky Tooth’s 1969 sophomore album, Spooky Two. Similar to contemporaries like Argent and the Moody Blues, Spooky Tooth expanded upon its early rhythm-and-blues sound to include proto-progressive-rock concepts, and all the members of its classic lineup went on to further success: lead singer Mike Harrison led an active solo career; keyboardist Gary Wright stormed the charts with his 1976 solo album, Dreamweaver; bassist Greg Ridley joined Steve Marriott’s popular post–Small Faces band, Humble Pie; guitarist Luke Grosvenor changed his name to Ariel Bender and joined Mott the Hoople and founded Widowmaker; and Kellie joined the long-running and highly regarded pop-punk band the Only Ones.

British drummer Mike Kellie, whose credits included Traffic, Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, Peter Frampton, Jim Capaldi, Paul Kossoff, George Harrison, Maurice Gibb, Neil Innes, Pat Travers, Andy Fraser, and Johnny Thunders, and who was a member of the bands Spooky Tooth and the Only Ones, has passed.

Kellie’s playing on “African Thing” on the pre-Spooky Tooth band Art’s 1967 album Supernatural Fairytales featured one of the earliest drum solos to appear on a record
by a British rock band, and his drumming on the Spooky Tooth recording “Sunshine Help Me” was reportedly the foundational sample used on the track “No Church in the Wild” on the 2011 Jay Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne, featuring Frank Ocean.

Among Kellie’s more well-known performances are the Only Ones’ classic new wave track “Another Girl, Another Planet,” New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders’ signature song, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory,” the deep album cut “Rainmaker” from Traffic’s legendary 1971 album The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, and “I Shall Be Released” from Joe Cocker’s debut album, With a Little Help From My Friends.

In addition, Kellie was among the drummers contributing to the 1975 soundtrack to the Who feature film Tommy, and he played on Jerry Lee Lewis’s 1973 album The Session, which featured an all-star cast of British and American rockers including Peter Frampton, Alvin Lee, and Delaney Bramlett and was the rock ’n’ roll icon’s highest charting album in nearly ten years.

Kellie was also a songwriter who wrote the lyrics to Spooky Tooth’s “Feelin’ Bad” and “I’ve Got Enough Heartache,” the latter of which was covered by Three Dog Night on the hit 1970 album Naturally. In 2015 Kellie released the solo album Music From the Hidden, which can be heard on Soundcloud.

Thanks to Andrew Spacey from Rock and Roll Stew Music Ltd. for some of the background information for this piece.


Posted in Feature Stories, In Memoriam Tagged Andy Fraser, George Harrison, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jim Capaldi, Joe Cocker, Johnny Thunders, Maurice Gibb, Mike Kellie, Modern Drummer, Neil Innes, Pat Travers, Paul Kossoff, Peter Frampton, Spooky Tooth, Traffic, drummer

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