Our family is most saddened to announce that our world has lost a bright light. Philip Gene Kelly passed away on November 22, 2023 at 85 years old in Bellingham, WA. His heart was tired and decided to call it a day.
Phil was a multi-talented and accomplished musician, composer and arranger for over 40 years. Among many things he was the primary arranger for the Fort Worth, TX Symphony Pops series for more than 25 years. He wrote for the Old Tonight Show Band, Bill Watrous, Doc Severinsen, Si Zentner, as well as being a drummer for vocalists Buddy Greco, Julius LaRosa, Frank D'Rone, Sylvia Syms, John Gary, Jenny Smith, and Al 'TNT' Braggs. He composed music for film, TV and radio for over 700 national accounts including ESPN, ABC Sports, NFL Films, industrial films and shows for Cadillac, Chevrolet, Volkswagen, American Airlines and Zales Jewelers. He has had arrangements played by the Houston, Dallas, Detroit, Cincinnati, and North Carolina Symphony orchestras. He was known by many for his composition of "Sweet Georgia Upside Down" which was played by the NBC Orchestra as well as others.
In his retirement he wrote and produced his first jazz CD “The Convergence Zone” with the Northwest Prevailing Winds for which he received a Grammy nomination. It was followed by 2 more CDs entitled “My Museum” and “Ballet Of The Bouncing Beagles”. He was a big band coach at the Bud Shank Centrum Jazz camp in Port Towsend, WA. He also wrote big band arrangements for Frank D’Rone as well as Primo Kim in Seattle.
Though macular degeneration in his later years was a major challenge his outlook always remained bright, his wit intact, and his ears still never failed him. He enjoyed using YouTube to listen to the music of the newer and younger generation.
He is preceded in death by his parents Dick and Iva Kelly of Canton, Ohio, as well as wife Kathy Kelsey Pruitt Kelly, of Bellingham, WA. He is survived by son Brian Kelly and wife Gina; daughter Lauren Kelly and grandaughter Brennan Andrews; step-daughter Karyn Pruitt Fairris and husband Scott Fairris; grandchildren Austin Fairris and wife Hailey, and Amanda Fairris Pozas and husband Fabricio. In his wake he also leaves his lifelong friend Trella Hart as well as his beloved Beagle, Daisy.
We appreciate all of you who continued to communicate with him through the years because it made his world a little brighter. We'd love for people to share any photos, memories and stories you have about Phil to be enjoyed by all.
The family will have a private celebration of life at a future date. Donations are not necessary but, if desired, can be made to the Seattle Beagle Rescue. He adopted pups from them over the years as Beagles have always been close to his heart.