About Sherman Kelly
I was born in 1943 in Washington D.C. but grew up outside of Boston where my father was a Professor of city planning. I was one of 5 siblings in the Kelly family. I had 2 brothers and 2 sisters. The Kelly household was constantly filled with music. Everyone played the piano and some played other instruments. We were fortunate to be influenced by a rich and eclectic combination of music, including Jazz, Calypso, Blues, Afro-Cuban, South American, South African, and of course, a wide range of classical music.
My mother studied piano at the New England Conservatory and wanted me to study classical piano at the age of 6. I preferred other endeavors and stopped playing after a couple of years. At age 15, an older friend taught me some blues and boogie woogie and I began to play music by ear.
During High School and later at Cornell University, I started playing keyboards in Rock & Roll bands. My first band was the "Oz & Ends" in Ithaca NY. I graduated Cornell in 1967 with a BA in Psychology and English. I also studied at Alliance Francaise in Paris, and at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. I also attended the New School For Social Research in New York City.
I played in a couple of other bands in the Caribbean in 1967 through 1969. One of the bands was named "The Iguana Gulch Blues Band". My close friend Alex Brooks set up a club, "The Minor Key room" at the St. Thomas club. One of the bands, "Chin", was the first electrified band to play on the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. At that time, a former housemate of mine, the famous conjurer and actor Ricky Jay, who's also the greatest living "slight of hand" artist, blew the audience away with his magic.
On a trip to St. Croix in 1969, I was the first victim of a vicious St. Croix gang who eventually murdered 8 American tourists. At that time, I suffered multiple facial fractures and wounds and was left for dead. While I was recovering, I wrote "Dancin In The Moonlight" in which I envisioned an alternate reality, the dream of a peaceful and joyful celebration of life. The song became a huge hit and was recorded by many musicians worldwide. "Dancin In The Moonlight" continues to be popular to this day.
In 1971 I ran a night club called "The Grass Shack" in St. Thomas Virgin Islands with Alex Brooks, Larry Hoppen, Bob Leinbach, Milton Jay, Wells Kelly, Paul Lisseck and Bobby Simone, the former road manager for the Mama's & The Papa's, and a host of other friends. After that, I joined a band named "Boffolongo" with Larry Hoppen (later of Orleans) and my brother Wells. My original version of "Dancin In The Moonlight" was on the Boffolongo album "Beyond Your Head" released in 1970, which featured my brother Wells on drums and Larry Hoppen on guitar and myself on lead vocal.
After a stint with Boffolongo playing around the USA, the band broke up in 1972 and I moved to Cambridge MA where I wrote scripts and scored films. Then, roughly a year later in 1973, while meditating with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at a teacher training course in Spain, I was notified that my old Cornell friends in the band "King Harvest" had a big hit with "Dancin in the moonlight". They invited me to join the group and tour in support of the hit record. Later that year we recorded an album that was never released until 2007 entitled "King Harvest: The Lost Tapes" featuring 5 songs that I wrote or co-wrote and on which I played and sang.
After having toured with King Harvest, I settled down in the Ithaca NY area in 1974. I had some less than successful low back surgery that took me out of commission for many years. I continued to write songs, frequently collaborating with my brother, Wells, who was a brilliant musician. Wells performed and recorded with many great musicians including "Al Kooper", "The Beach Boys", "Bonnie Raitt" and many others. He was a founding member of the group "Orleans" and played and recorded with them for years. During Wells's tenure with the band, I also co-wrote several songs for "Orleans". After his tragic death in 1984, I found it too painful to work on music and pursued other interests. I received a Masters degree in Social Work and Psychotherapy from Syracuse University. For many years, I have been employed as a social worker/psychotherapist.
In recent years, my interest in songwriting has been rekindled. On my new CD, "Burnin The Candle", I decided to complete some of the unfinished works that Wells and I had written together. I have also collaborated with friends on songs included on this CD. Some of the songs on the new CD are brand new and were written for the CD. I continue to be grateful for the warm support of my friends.