Like many other well known DJ's, John Kelly's upbringing was a very musical one! He was brought up in Liverpool in the 1960's and had six sisters - four of them teenagers who were into the fashionable music of the time. All of the family's friends and neighbours seemed to congregate at John's parent's home, and the atmosphere was constantly filled with music. John's mother had fifteen siblings and over a hundred first cousins! So you can you imagine the amount of weddings and christenings that would involve? It was somebody's birthday every day of the week! In fact, in John's family, there was always a party.
John Kelly's first experience of DJing was probably at his uncle's pub, the Bow & Arrow, in Liverpool in the 1980's. John had built up a large collection of CDs and it seemed the obvious next move to play them in public to entertain other people. Just as Jimmy Saville, the world's first club DJ had done back in the 1950's! However, there were no CD mixers available back then (Circa 1985), and so programming was a matter of one-on, one-off! After a while, though, John started to go to clubs and to see the techniques that were available to DJ's using vinyl records, like beat-mixing and scratching; so John stopped buying CDs and switched his allegiance to the mighty 12" single.
Most DJ's learn their craft in the bedroom, only to emerge when they feel that they have mastered the Art of manipulating the wheels of steel. John Kelly, however, learnt on the job, in front of a crowd! He bought a club in Liverpool's Victoria Street with James Barton and a guy called Billy. They initially named the club Nights Alive, but this was quickly changed to the Underground, and the logo on the membership card was the same design used for London's Tube system! The resident DJ's were JK & James (aka John Kelly & James Barton) with John Kelly learning, at first, how to programme records and work the crowd. This, of course, is something that no amount of technical expertise gained in the bedroom can teach a DJ. It can only be done in front of a crowd. Once he had learnt the basics of programming John turned his attention to beat-mixing: and pretty soon he was mixing everything from old classics to new upfront House tracks. By 1989 John Kelly was certainly one of the best mix DJ's in Liverpool.
John Kelly first played at Quadrant Park on August Bank Holiday Monday in 1990; a night put on by Hax Promotions. Other DJ's playing that night were London's Trevor Fung and Liverpool stalwarts Mike Knowler, Andy Carroll and James Barton. The live PA was LFO. When the Quad All-Nighter kicked off in November 1990 John Kelly was one of the resident DJ's. John certainly made his mark in the All-Nighter, and when Andy Carroll left the Quad in the spring of 1991 he took over Andy's Saturday night spot in the nightclub.
Overlapping with his duties at Quadrant Park, John Kelly promoted a night with Peter Coyle (of Lotus Eaters fame) on Thursdays at Liverpool's Mardi Gras Club. The music policy was Soulful Funky House and the night was very much a precursor for what Danny Rampling would later play on his BBC Radio One show the Love Groove Dance Party. John Kelly has always been a DJ's DJ and lots of DJ's and Music Industry people would come up to Liverpool, from London and Manchester, just to hear him play. In fact, Peter and John even took the G-Club on the roads a couple of times, most notably to the Gardening Club in London.
The reputation that John earned for himself from his duties at Quadrant Park and G-Love enabled him to sign up with some of the better known DJ agencies, thus moving into the National and International club scene. He was involved in the early days of Back to Basics in Leeds, and was also a regular guest DJ at the likes of Gatecrasher, Passion, God's Kitchen, Slinky, Hotdog and Cream. In fact, John played at Cream every six weeks or so, and had a weekly residency at the Ministry of Sound in 1998. In addition to all of this club work, John Kelly was also very popular on the College / University circuit.
Presently, over the summer months, John Kelly lives in Ibiza and for seven or eight years was the resident DJ at one of the worlds biggest club nights Manumission. John very much likes DJing abroad and has had dates throughout Europe and all across the States from New York to LA & Las Vegas. In the Southern Hemisphere John has played in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand; and in the Far East in Hong Kong and Singapore. These days, musically, John seems to play a fairly indefinable maverick blend of hard underground trance.
John likes having a good time on the other side of the decks too! When he played in Japan for Cream, at Tokyo's Club Yellow, the night was supposed to have finished at 6:00 am; but John played on until 9:00 am! And he only stopped, then, because he had run out of records. As John says: "Sometimes you never want a night to end!"
John Kelly has also done quite a bit of work in the recording studio, and has worked remixes for The Farm, Utah Saints and Gusto. He says that he hopes that some of his own songs will be released soon, but adds the proviso that he enjoys playing records more than making them. Having said that, John has had a Top30 hit with 'Outrageous' by Stix & Stoned. In addition, John Kelly has sold more 250,000 copies of various mix CD's including: "Introspective of House"; "Retrospective of House"; "Journeys by DJ"; and "Miss Moneypenny's Ibiza".