About Kelly Jones
Kelly Jones is a Welsh singer-songwriter, lead guitarist and director and the lead singer of the band Stereophonics. Influenced by classic rock bands such as Pink Floyd, The Who, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and Sex Pistols, Jones is noted for his raspy voice, which has been described as "whiskey" and has drawn criticism as well as acclaim. As a lyricist, Jones is influenced by Neil Young, Bob Catley, Bob Dylan and Otis Redding.
Kelly Jones was born youngest of three boys for Beryl and Arwyn Jones in the small Welsh ex-mining village of Cwmaman, spending his childhood with them and his two older brothers, Kevin and Lee. Both of his parents worked in factories. His father coached youth football and pursued his own singing career. The name of Arwyn's backing band, Oscar and the Kingfishers, earned him the nickname 'Oscar' among friends and family. He went on to secure a record deal with Polydor, who renamed him 'Arwyn Davidson' due to the sheer number of Joneses in the music business at the time. Despite making multiple recordings, sharing The Hollies' manager and supporting slots with the likes of Roy Orbison, Arwyn had minimal mainstream success and only released a few singles . During Jones' youth his uncle, a boxing referee, got him interested in the sport, and he later competed at a high level in South Wales. Following this Jones moved onto football, where he played for his county. Jones grew up in the village of Cwmaman, near Aberdare, where he became friends with neighbours, Stuart Cable and Richard Jones, with whom he formed, in 1992, one of a string of covers bands.
Jones' talent for writing was apparent in his youth. He studied film at college and considered becoming a scriptwriter - attracting interest from the BBC for his work - before focusing on music. As his band progressed from covers to performing original material, Jones brought his gift for narrative to his lyrics. He also flirted with the idea of career in boxing, and was a successful fighter at junior levels.
There is a strong autobiographical thread to Jones' writing on Stereophonics' 1997 debut album, Word Gets Around, including an account of his teenage years working on a market stall, "More Life in a Tramps Vest".
In 1996, after several years on the south Wales live circuit, Stereophonics were the first band to be signed to Richard Branson's new Virgin Records label V2. Their debut EP Looks Like Chaplin was not pressed in enough numbers to qualify for the charts, and their next single Local Boy in the Photograph peaked one place shy of the UK Top 50. However, their debut LP Word Gets Around, helped by a busy touring schedule that included a support slot on fellow Welsh band Manic Street Preachers' 1996–97 tour, made it to number 6 on the UK Albums Chart.
In February 1998, Stereophonics received a Brit Award for Best New Group, the same week as a re-issue of Local Boy in the Photograph made number 14 in the charts and their first album went gold in the UK, selling 100,000 copies. During that year the band toured in Europe, Australia and the US, the highlight of which was a concert on 12 June 1998 at Cardiff Castle that was filmed for release. They performed a cover of the Randy Newman song "Mama Told Me Not to Come" with Tom Jones for his album Reload.
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