Graeme Kelling

Guitarist with the Scottish rock band Deacon Blue

As guitarist and founding member of Deacon Blue, Graeme Kelling helped the Scottish band establish themselves in the British album charts at the tail-end of the Eighties and well into the Nineties. In April 1989, the six-piece group topped the listings with their second album,
When the World Knows Your Name, while the following year their
Four Bacharach and David Songs EP reached No 2 in the singles chart when the lead track, a cover of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" - originally recorded by Dionne Warwick - received an incredible amount of airplay.

Graeme Kelling, guitarist and songwriter: born Paisley, Renfrewshire 4 April 1957; married (one son, one daughter); died Glasgow 10 June 2004.

As guitarist and founding member of Deacon Blue, Graeme Kelling helped the Scottish band establish themselves in the British album charts at the tail-end of the Eighties and well into the Nineties. In April 1989, the six-piece group topped the listings with their second album, When the World Knows Your Name, while the following year their Four Bacharach and David Songs EP reached No 2 in the singles chart when the lead track, a cover of "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" - originally recorded by Dionne Warwick - received an incredible amount of airplay.

Despite considerable investment from Sony Records, Deacon Blue never repeated their UK success overseas and broke up in April 1994 after releasing two Top Five albums, Fellow Hoodlums (1991) and Whatever You Say, Say Nothing (1993), and the No 1 collection Our Town: the greatest hits of Deacon Blue.

They reunited five years later for another compilation, Walking Back Home, and their fifth studio album, Homesick (2001), and remained a staple on British radio with oldies such as the earnest "Dignity", the anthemic "Real Gone Kid" and the rockier "Wages Day".

Born in Paisley in 1957, Kelling was raised according to the beliefs of the Brethren sect but turned away from their strict teachings in his teens. In 1984, he joined Dr Love, the Glasgow band led by the singer and songwriter Ricky Ross, who had secured a publishing deal with ATV Music on the proviso he formed a group to perform his compositions.

Inspired by "Deacon Blues", a track on Aja, the 1977 album by the American duo Steely Dan, the band - comprising Douglas Vipond (drums), James Prime (keyboards) and Ewan Vernal (bass) alongside Ross and Kelling - became Deacon Blue.

The quintet found its sound and style with the addition of the dynamic second vocalist Lorraine McIntosh to the line-up. Her ebullience and counterpoint vocal embellishments gave an extra dimension to their material and attracted the attention of Muff Winwood, the former Spencer Davis Group bassist who had become head of A&R at CBS Records in the UK and signed them to the label in 1985.

Mirroring Bruce Springsteen's blue-collar concerns and often reminiscent of Prefab Sprout, another CBS UK act using male and female vocal interplay, Deacon Blue felt at home on the major label and recorded their Raintown début album in six weeks flat with Jon Kelly producing. Despite support slots with Sandie Shaw and Lone Justice, the singles "Dignity", "Loaded" - co-written by Kelling with Ross and Prime - and "When Will You (Make My Telephone Ring)" failed to chart on their original release in 1987 but CBS showed how much they believed in the band by offering prospective buyers of Raintown their money back if they didn't like the album.

The ploy worked and word of mouth and a remix of "Dignity" by the American Bob Clearmountain, which made the Top Thirty in January 1988, enabled Deacon Blue to find an audience. CBS added to the momentum by offering Raintown with a bonus album gathering previous B-sides and Deacon Blue's début eventually spent over 18 months in the British charts.

Now firmly established as a top live attraction, the group knocked Madonna's Like a Prayer off the top spot in the UK with their 1989 album When the World Knows Your Name, which spawned five Top Thirty singles. Deacon Blue also played benefits for the Lockerbie aircrash disaster fund as well as campaigning against the poll tax and supporting the miners' strike.

For a while, the six-piece could do no wrong. In 1991, they masterminded The Tree and the Bird and the Fish and the Bell, a charity album featuring the likes of their fellow Scots Hue & Cry, Texas, Lloyd Cole and Eddi Reader. Deacon Blue also appeared in a William McIlvanney BBC TV play, Dreaming (1990), and, following the release of their third album, Fellow Hoodlums, toured Europe and ended the year with a triumphant gig at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall broadcast on Radio 1 on New Year's Eve 1991.

The swirling single "Your Town" produced by the Perfecto dance team of Steve Osborne and Paul Oakenfold signalled a change of direction for the 1993 album Whatever You Say, Say Nothing but, despite a big international push, its success remained confined to the British Isles and Deacon Blue split the following year. Graeme Kelling subsequently ran his own recording studio and wrote soundtrack and incidental music for film and television.

In May 1999, he rejoined the original line-up of the group, ostensibly for an event benefiting the Braendam Family House at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow which sold out in 90 minutes flat. Renewed interest led to Deacon Blue's touring and recording again.

Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer five years ago, Graeme Kelling showed a remarkable sense of humour, even joking that the disease which had made his weight dwindle to eight stone actually improved his rock-star looks.

A clean-cut and quiet musician, he only stepped out of the shadows to take a solo on the melancholy "Love and Regret" or play slide on "Love's Great Fears" but contributed a great deal to Deacon Blue's melodic sense and mass appeal.

Pierre Perrone



Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss