Earnest Kelly - R.i.p. , Detroit Legend

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Dave Thorley
30 August 2011 - 06:33 PM
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Just heard the sad new that Earnest Kelly passed away in Detroit on saturday. Earnest was one of the great independants in Detroit, with his Inter-Soul distribution, that many small local releases were promoted through. He was a man of many talents, writer, producer, label owner and a mighty promotion man. He started his career on N.Y.'s 'Tin Pan Alley', working as an independant and with Atlantic Records.

Berry Gordy, brought him to Motown and Detroit to head up their new approach to the concept albums, after leaving there he worked for Invictus. Along side all this he had his own projects and labels, working closely with the likes of Johnnie Mae Matthews, Lorraine Chandler, Dee Edwards, Carol Anderson.

He was a good friend to many of us that would make trips to the great city, always ready to help you track material down and always an eye on the dollar.

I will miss him greatly, good bye old friend.


Edited by Dave Thorley, 30 August 2011 - 06:39 PM.

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#2     share northern
30 August 2011 - 07:15 PM
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Ernest McKinley Kelley - July 24th 1930 to August 27th 2011

Mike Jemison called this evening to let me know of the sudden passing of Ernest.
Ernest had been ill for quite sometime with Cancer related problems, and it was during a routine hospital visit on Saturday that he passed away.
His funeral will held this Thursday (1st September) in Detroit with his body then being flown to it's final resting place in Washington D.C, where his brother Irving and most of his other immediate family live.
Ernest was true all round record man from his early days working at BMI, followed by a stint as a studio co-orinator with Atlantic records. Before being headhunted by Motown which took him from New York in 1968 to Detroit his home of the last 43 years.
Label owner, producer, songwriter, distributor the list goes on and on!
Rest in peace old friend, you'll be missed
Dave & Louise

Edited by Louise, 30 August 2011 - 08:30 PM.

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mrs norman maine
30 August 2011 - 07:16 PM
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RIP Mr. Kelly

Edited by mrs norman maine, 30 August 2011 - 07:17 PM.

#4     share northern
30 August 2011 - 07:27 PM
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Yet another sad loss to a great and talented person within the music industry.God bless

#5     share northern
31 August 2011 - 03:27 AM
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What made me better in the music business was Mr. Kelley. I can't believe he's gone. He was my administrative teacher. "Lorraine, put it in a folder." That was his saying. "When someone brings up a topic or song, it's in a folder and you just reach in a grab it."

I always called him Mr. Kelley. Always. We would fight and argue and I would cry. The soldier in him made him tough and he said he had to toughen me up. He said I was too soft for the music business. Kelley was responsible for teaching me distribution and promotion. He put me out there when women were a true minority in promotion. I was in New York, by myself, in my twenties, trying to get our material played. He was something else.

I tried to get him to write a book. For years I begged him. I told him I was tired of hearing his same old stories, let the world know what went on behind those walls of Atlantic, Motown and HD&H.

If I'm considered a legend, Mr. Kelley would say, "she's supposed to be." He would never give me credit, but called me for everything. I'm not the only one. Kelley was a teacher and shared his knowledge of the music business. You will probably hear other stories. It's because of him that I could represent the 'behind the scenes' aspects of it. I had hard but wonderful teacher.

I will miss our marathon phone meetings (all we did was argue and fuss).

Lorraine Chandler
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Dave Thorley
31 August 2011 - 08:02 AM
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Recieved this from his family

Music Industry Legend Ernest Kelley Dies At the Age of 83

Detroit resident and music industry legend, Ernest Kelley died Saturday August 27th at Providence Hospital in Southfield, Michigan. He was 83-years-old.
A native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, Kelley entered the music industry after relocating to New York City. While there, Kelley started working at Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) in 1948. His twelve-year stint at BMI was interrupted by a five-year tour of duty with the U. S. Army Medical Corps. In 1961, Kelley started his music publishing and production company. Three years later, Atlantic Records called on him to bolster their promotion and sales staff. During his tenure at the company, he worked with artists such as Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles.
In 1968, Kelley relocated to Detroit, Michigan to start a four-year stint with Motown Records. While there, he wore many hats including that of Studio Coordinator where he acted as liaison between various departments and performing artists. During his time at Motown, Kelley worked with many artists including Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Temptations and The Jackson Five.
After leaving Motown, Kelley started his own business, Inter/Soul Promotions in 1975. Inter/Soul is an independent record promotion and marketing company. His client list includes many well known artists and groups including Hall and Oates, Barry White, George Benson, Helen Reddy, Peabo Bryson and Stacy Lattisaw. Not one to slow down, Kelley was still actively involved in several projects at the time of his death.
Kelley was preceded in death by a daughter Geneva Kelley-Collins, two brothers and two sisters. He is survived by two daughters Dr. Ursula Kelley-Wash (Dr. David Wash) and Ingrid Kelley; grandchildren Jonelle and Justin Collins and Carrington Barbara-Ann Wash; a great-grand child Nathan Amir Chandler, and several brothers and a sister.
The funeral is scheduled for 11:00 am September 1, 2011 at New Prospect Missionary Baptist Church. The church is located at 6330 Pembroke in Detroit, Michigan 48221. A family hour will be held at 10:00 am at the church. Internment is scheduled for Resurrection Cemetery in Clinton, MD.
The body has been entrusted to C.W. Morris-J.W. Henry Funeral Home located at 12700 Hamilton Avenue in Highland Park, Michigan. Any questions please contact the funeral home at (313)868-3500.

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Edited by Dave Thorley, 31 August 2011 - 08:07 AM.

"From the hard to find, to the just plain good"

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Steve G
31 August 2011 - 08:07 AM
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RIP Ernest.
I remember speaking to him in 1982 when we did the feature in Blackbeat on all the artists he was working with (4th day< Emmanuel Lasky, Magnificents etc.). He was a lovely guy.:thumbsup:

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#8     share northern
31 August 2011 - 09:01 AM
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Very sad. he was such a character..i remember him opening the door and the first thing he would say is "ah, i see some dollars coming my way"...after he told me that he was stationed in bamberg during his service, i brought ernie a mahr's braeu beer jug(he used to go to this brewery) which he placed next to the picture of him and marvin gaye sitting at the piano...i will miss him...m.

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#9     share northern
02 September 2011 - 09:44 PM
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Rest Well Mr. Kelley.....
Amber in the blood.....Soul for life.

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