Aug. 16 is the birth date of Kelly Keller. She passed away on Sept. 24, 2004, she would have been 48. I think of Kelly every day.
Sometimes every hour. She was my business partner (one of several) at the Circle Bar in New Orleans, and one of my best friends.
And one of the best people I’ve ever met. I spent twenty years hanging out with Kelly, in New York, Boston, New Orleans, and many other places. Every place we went we had fun. Where Kelly was was the place to be at that moment, she was the hippest person there ever was. I’ve never met anyone with as much charisma, and as much passion for the things that make life worthwhile, whether it was great music, food, or just driving around shooting the shit. Kelly knew everyone worth knowing from Classie Ballou to Andre Williams. She loved great music and made the Circle Bar into the coolest bar in the world for the five years she ran the joint. She brought in talent like Barbara Lynn, Howard Tate, Andre Williams, Sonny Burgess, Roger Lewis, and too many others to name. All in a space smaller than your average living room. Nobody else could’ve done it. She brought in Dr. Ike and we formed the Mystical Knights Of The Mau Mau giving
Ike his first venue and through him we got many of the aforementioned artists as well as R.L. Burnside, Billy Lee Riley, Lazy Lester, Tousaint McCall, Jody Williams, Slim Harpo’s band, shit, I can’t remember them all. This photo was taken at the Lakeside Lounge in New York City, left to right are Suzanne Charbonet, me, Virginia Prescott, Kelly, and the late, great Bill Pietsch (more on him in a later post).
The world will never see another one like Kelly, it seems like the good ones are dying out fast while the bad ones go on forever.
In the past few years many of my favorite people have died: Bob and Alice Quine, Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone, Hasil Adkins, Cordell Jackson, Bill Pietsch, I’m afraid to pick up the phone lest the list grows longer.
So Kelly Keller’s gone, at least she didn’t have to see what happened to her beloved New Orleans. I’ll always remember her,
and when I think of her I think of something an old junkie passed on to me many years ago– “What ever it is enjoy it now, nothing good lasts for long”. Kelly enjoyed her life and lived it to the fullest.
Goodbye Kelly, where ever you are.