Death of a Galway Musical Legend- Eugene Kelly

The funeral took place this week of a man that will always be remembered with great fondness by a generation of UCG students.
Along with his musical partner Cha Taylor, Eugene Kelly (photo-far right) formed a highly talented two piece band that was the central focus of so many Galway students' weekly night on the town during the mid to the very late 1970s. We packed the King’s Head bar every Thursday to listen, sing and dance to Eugene and Cha as they belted out such classics as Route 66, Lucille, Bad Bad Leroy Brown

A Packed Thursday Night in the King's Head during a Kelly & Taylor Gig
As the best pub band in Galway, they had an army of adoring fans who established the King’s Head pub as the undisputed musical youth mecca of Ireland’s primary student city. Eugene was without doubt the ultimate ‘Mr Cool’ of his time. Handsome, tall, slim, proud owner of a wonderful singing voice, a fine crop of shining black hair and gleaming white teeth, with a shirt always unbuttoned to show off his hairy chest, he had teenage girls swooning at this feet. Appropriately, he drove a sleek Ford Capri car at a time when us poor students walked or cycled everywhere. Decades later, he still managed to retain his youthful looks and this Dorian Grey character was often referred to as Ireland’s answer to Cliff Richard or Peter Pan.
It would perhaps be expected therefore that students such as me would have been jealous even spiteful towards a man that possessed all the characteristics in abundance that the rest of the Irish male population seemed to lack. Not so. For Eugene was the perfect gentleman- friendly, helpful, concerned and supportive. You could not help but like the man.
His musical prowess was not confined to the pub. He was bigger and better than that. Until the early 1980s, the 3-4 piece  Kelly and Taylor Band became the mainstay of UCG faculty dress dances, Graduation Balls and charity concerts.
As we grew older and moved from college to the world of work, the musical styles of Eugene and Cha changed but they still remained part of the lives of those of us that remained in Galway. As members of ‘All That Jazz’ the two lads were part of the city’s most successful early Sunday afternoon  musical event. Eugene was the cornerstone of Horizon and other great local bands during the 1980s and 1990s. He also became a highly respected musical producer, writer and promoter that did so much to help develop the musical talents of countless young bands.  
It was appropriate and symbolic of the role that Eugene and Cha meant to UCG denizens in this wonderful era, that they were the main artistic act at the highly successful UCG 78/'81 Reunion in 2008.

Eugene's unexpected and sudden death was painful to us all, particularly to his wife Sindy, brother John and sister Mary Rose who were our fellow students. But we will always cherish beautiful memories of a man who gave so much joy and solace to us during our college nights.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

1 comment:

David Walls said...

Stunning bit of journalism. I saw him in the school and had great difficulty believing he was a teacher. In the P.C.A. he had to have the buttons up. The Capri was blue I think.We did have another stud in a white, Peter, worked in Byrne Mech.
He taught us mechanical drawing and I think he did art as well. Total Talent