Brian Kelly (1944-2000)
Last updated: 28.01.22
Brian Kelly
born 8.10.1944 in Liverpool, England
died 5.12.2000 in Bremen, Germany

This webpage is dedicated to the memory of Brian Kelly. I met Brian sometime in 1978 and introduced him to the Anglo-German Club, Bremen where together with Wilfried Drygala, we founded the Idle Fellows folk group in 1979. The group's name was taken from the title of one of Brian's favourite folk songs, Dammed Idle Fellows. Over the following 14 years, we regularly played together both in the Idle Fellows or briefly (2 years) as a folk-duo. It was Brian who introduced to me a huge number of folk songs for which I am deeply indebted. In addition to having a wonderful voice, his knowledge of folk-music was wide-ranging and vast. He was a larger-than-life figure with a huge appetite both for food and folk-music and, as my father would say, "The lad loved his pop". His gusto for life, comparable with Brendan Behan or Fats Waller, no doubt lead to his untimely demise. He lives on, however in the memory of his friends and the music he left behind. So here, in his memory, Brian's songs and recordings can be found iby "clicking" the tabs above.
Thank you, Brian.

Geoff Grainger, Bremen-Vegesack, June 2001

  Title Composer Instruments Remarks
  DBE MP3 Sample   
audiodbemp315.gif Four Drunken Maidens Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Holy Ground, The Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Johnny Todd Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Jolly Waggoner, The Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif My Liverpool Home Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Maid on the shore, The Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Mon like thee, A Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Ploughboy and the London Cockney, The Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Three Gypsies Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
audiodbemp315.gif Whiskey in the Jar Vocal, Guitar sm15.gif
Brian himself made no recordings and, as far as I believe, never had any ambitions of making recordings or any kind of studio work. He was a natural, and the natural place to perform folk music is in a pub. (At least that's what I always thought and I think Brian would agree with me - he loved his pubs). All that remains are three lousy cassette tapes made just for transcription purposes in Wilfried Drygala's cellar bar, the place where we carried out our monthly rehearsals. There are also two video tapes made by Heinz Seidelmann as mementoes in 1992 in the Treppchen. From these unlikely sources, 10 songs have been rescued and have been compiled as a CD Brian Kelly In Memoriam upon which one-verse samples of these songs can be heard on this website. This CD, vastly over-priced, was once available as a DAM-CD at There are no plans for its re-release..
This is by no means a list of all Brian's songs in his repertoire, the list is merely those of songs which he sang together with the Idle Fellows. His repertoire must have covered hundreds of songs. He had a vast knowledge of North English songs as well as songs connected with the labour movement both in England and Germany. He sang all these songs by heart and scorned the use of songbooks on stage. The complete folk musician was our Brian!

The Banks of the Roses High Germany The Maid on the shore
The Banks of NewfoundlandThe Holy Ground A Mon like thee
Blow the Candles OutDammed Idle FellowsOff to Sea Once More
Bog Down in the Valley OhThe Irish RoverThe Old Dun Cow
Bold Thady QuillJohnny ToddWhiskey in the Jar
Byker HillThe Jolly Waggoner The Ploughboy and the London Cockney
William BrownKelly the Boy from Killane The Waverley Polka
The Wraggle Taggle GypsiesThe Knight and the Shepherd's DaughterTackuanna
The Star of the County DownWay Down to LamornaThree Gypsies
Four Drunken MaidensThe Leaving of Liverpool Three Score and Ten
Fareweel to Tarwathie My Liverpool Home Turpin Hero
The Gypsy Girl Maggie May