Jonathan Kelly

Sligo FairTwice Around The Houses
MiseryWaiting On You
Ballad Of Cursed AnnaTwice Around The Houses
Down On MeWait Till They Change The Backdrop
Making It LonelyWaiting On You
Hyde Park AngelsTwice Around The Houses
Great Northern RailroadWaiting On You
Turn Your Eye On MeWait Till They Change The Backdrop
GodasWait Till They Change The Backdrop
Tell Me PeopleWaiting On You


Jonathan Kelly playlist



Contributor: Terry Newman

Jonathan Kelly (born Jonathan Ledingham) was one of those early 70s singer-songwriter who seems to have fallen through the cracks of history. He began to make his name playing the folk clubs in the late 60s/early 70s and released his first solo album, Jonathan Kelly, in 1970, a very hard to find record nowadays.

In 1972 he released the much heralded Twice Around The Houses which included familiar musicians such as Rick Kemp, Gerry Conway and Jerry Donahue. The standout track is the haunting Ballad Of Cursed Anna, a cautionary tale: “Beware the cursed Anna’s stare, this warning did he bring, that no-one makes it through this wood coming out as they went in”.

Wait Till They Change The Backdrop was released in 1973 with another array of great songs and a stellar cast of musicians including Tim Renwick and Peter Wood and future Attraction, Bruce Thomas. One of my favourite songs is Godas which I still hope to hear one day on the soundtrack of a spaghetti western.

By this time Jonathan was playing live with a full band, Jonathan Kelly’s Outside. I saw him numerous times and can confirm they were a great little band. In 1974 he brought out Waiting On You with the new band. To me, this is the best of his albums and the band format allowed him to stretch out with some of the songs in the 7-8 minute range. Jonathan Kelly’s Outside included the great guitar players, Snowy White and future Blockhead Chas Jankel. This was a much more rockier sound but contained some of best songs, of which the highlight for me is Great Northern Railroad with some beautiful piano from Peter Wood.

It was also around this time that Jonathan’s drug problems were becoming increasingly apparent and the next album, 1975’s Two Days In Winter was very disappointing and there are no tracks worthy of this list; quality control had gone out the window.

And that was that. Jonathan Kelly virtually disappeared overnight, set up his own business under his original name ‘Ledingham’ and also became a Jehovah’s Witness.

He resurfaced again in 2002 and played his first gig in almost thirty years in 2004. There was also a new release in 2013 called Home Demos but I have not heard any of it so can’t comment on its quality. The four albums mentioned here have all been re-released by BGO records on 2 double-CDs which are well worth investigating.



POSTSCRIPT (from the official website)

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Jonathan passed away on 1st May 2020 after a long illness.

Jonathan Kelly (1947–2020)


The official Jonathan Kelly website

Jonathan Kelly biography (Wikipedia)

Terry Newman’s posts for this site include Butch Hancock, Gavin Clark, James McMurtry, Steely Dan, XTC. He lives in North Yorkshire and you can find him on Twitter @westburtonlad.

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1 Comment

  1. Colin Beardshall
    Jul 28, 2016

    I saw Jonathan touring Twice Around The Houses in 72 or 73. Joan Armatrading was support. I wish Jonathan had made more albums at the time but I guess he had his reasons for giving up performing in 76.

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