Tom Kelly (musician)

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Tom Kelly
Tom Kelly, ASCAP concert, 2011.jpg
Kelly performing at the 2011 ASCAP concert [2]
Background information
Birth nameThomas F. Kelly
Born (1949-04-16) April 16, 1949 (age 74)
Indiana, USA
  • Songwriter
  • musician

Thomas F. Kelly (born April 16, 1952) is an American musician, best known for his songwriting partnership with Billy Steinberg. Steinberg and Kelly co-wrote numerous hit songs for popular music artists, including five number-one singles on the Billboard Top 100 chart in the 1980s.


Early life

Originally from Indiana, Kelly lived in Effingham, Illinois from 1963 to 1966, before moving back to West Lafayette, Indiana where he graduated from West Lafayette High School in 1967. [3] [4] Kelly attended Eastern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and Purdue University, but dropped out of college to pursue his music career. [3] He played bass guitar and sang in several bands throughout Illinois and Indiana in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including the Trifaris, the Gaping Huggers, the One Eyed Jacks, and the Guild. [3] [5]

In 1974 Kelly moved to Los Angeles with his first wife, Kay Kelly, and two children, Barry and Denise. He played in Dan Fogelberg's backup band, and joined with other members of the band under the name 'Fools Gold' to release two albums in 1976 and 1977. Kelly became a prominent session singer in Los Angeles, singing backing vocals for many recording artists. He accompanied Toto on their 1979 World Tour as a backing vocalist and rhythm guitarist, and sang background vocals on the Toto albums Toto IV , Isolation and The Seventh One . In 1981 he wrote his first hit song, "Fire and Ice", with Pat Benatar for her album Precious Time .

Partnership with Billy Steinberg

After Kelly met Steinberg at a party in 1981, the duo began writing songs together, with Steinberg as lyricist and Kelly the principal music writer. Steinberg and Kelly wrote songs for a variety of popular music artists, including five number-one singles on the Billboard Top 100 chart. The pair also joined together as 'i-Ten' to release the album Taking a Cold Look in 1983.

Notable songs written by Steinberg and Kelly include:

Steinberg and Kelly were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. [6]

Later life

Kelly co-wrote "In My Dreams", recorded by REO Speedwagon with Kevin Cronin but Kelly lost enthusiasm for songwriting in the mid-1990s, and went into semi-retirement in 1998. He remarried and had two more children, Spencer and Tyson Kelly, with his second wife, Polly Russell Kelly (niece of actress Jane Russell). His son, Tyson, has followed in his footsteps as a songwriter and performer. His son, Spencer, became a founding member of the PRO Global Music Rights. As of 2011, he lives in Thousand Oaks, California near Sherwood Country Club where he enjoys playing golf regularly. [3]

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  2. Padua, Pat (May 12, 2011). "Pic(s) of the Week: They Write the Songs Edition". Library of Congress - In the Muse: Performing Arts Blog. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Grimes, Bill (March 26, 2011). "Into the Hall of Fame". Effingham Daily News. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  4. Brouk, Tim (June 30, 2011). "Hitmaking West Lafayette grad honored for songwriting". Journal & Courier .
  5. "The Great Hollywood Hangover: Champaign Part Two" . Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  6. "News - Songwriters Hall of Fame". Retrieved April 15, 2018.