"I started playing back in the early 70ís on a kit that belonged to my brother. Playing was my form of Ďanger managementí back then, but out of that came discipline, creativity and obviously some musical talent. Iíd sit down in the basement of our house, thrashing away at the kit taking in the tunes from the old Marble Arch compilation albums that were drifting down through the house as my brother played them on the record player.
My playing career started totally out of the blue. A band called Metre was playing locally to me in Kennington, but their drummer didnít turn up. Somebody said there was a guy down the road about a quarter of an hour away, so they turned up at my door and I went and played. And it started from there.
Within weeks of the gig, I was the drummer with Cymande, a new band formed by ex-members of Metre - Patrick Patterson, Steve Skipio & Mike Rose. Cymande was an 8-piece íNyah Rockí band, the original line-up being Patrick Patterson (guitar), Steve Skipio (bass), Mike Rose (sax). Sam Kelly (drums), Derek Gibbs (sax), Pablo Gonsales (congas), Peter Serreo (tenor sax) and Ray King (vocs). Desmond Atwell and Joey Dee later replaced Serreo and King. "
Although not well known in the UK, Cymande toured and recorded in the States between 1971 Ė 1974, releasing 3 singles (The Message, Bra and Brothers on the Slide) and 4 Albums (Cymande, Second Time Round, Promised Heights and Arrival). The band may not have been around for long in the 70ís but the Cymande legacy continues with Bra and The Message being sampled by Fugees, De La Soul and others. Cymande tracks have also been featured in the Spike Lee films, Crooklyn and 25th Hour. (Picture: Cymande 1971-2 in Balham before going to the States)
Fast Forward: After Cymande split, Sam settled into the London gig scene with Sox (Chris Cameron, Mick Parker, Gordon Hunt & John Reed), who after a busy time on the pub/club circuit toured with Linda Lewis and Billy Ocean. This was followed by a freelance stint in the 'drum seat' with both Jimmy Lindsay and Desmond Dekker. Sam then went ďrockingĒ around Europe with Roger Chapman & the Shortlist, Kevin Coyne, Michelle Shocked (pictured above), and many others.
"Just bear with me for a few seconds as I reminisce over some of the names I have worked with during the past years (How many names can you run through in a few seconds?) Liz McComb, Sista Monica, Eddie Floyd, Big Joe Duskin, Johnny Mars, Screaming J Hawkins, Dr John, Diz Watson, Chaka Khan, Zoot Money, Precious Wilson, Fred James, Ben E. King, Eddie Floyd & Dorothy Moore, Lefty Diz, Mojo Bruford, Charlie Sayle, Plaz Johnson, The Butler Twins, Deacon Jones & Freddie Hughes, Billy C Farlow, Bill Thomas, Sonny Black & the Dukes, Wolfie Witcher & His Brew, Steve Waller, Hershey & The 12 Bars, The Bop Brothers, Gordon Smith, Shakey Vicks Blues Band, Chuck Farley and Root Jackson & The G.B. Blues Band, to name but a few (Yes, there are others, but I wouldn't like to bore you!)"