Clive Kelly has crammed several lifetimes into one. At the age of 13 he opened a skiffle club in his dad’s basement with the help of Lonnie Donegan, and later became a teddy boy and street fighter. Trouble with the law was followed by escape to sea. Still a teenager, he worked as a bouncer for Allan Williams, the manager who famously “gave away the Beatles”, and went on to partner Williams running the Jacaranda club in Liverpool. Clive himself opened several clubs, and the list of the musicians he booked, many just starting on their careers, reads like a Who’s Who of the stars. He later went to Brazil and became involved in protecting the indigenous Indians, who were being systematically wiped out. He has been imprisoned both wrongly and rightfully, beaten
up and swindled, but has given as good as he got and has never ceased to expose corruption and wrong-headedness. This has brought him many enemies, but also a few close and lifetime friends.
In 1962, Clive Kelly lived by the River Mersey in New Brighton. Here he opened the Witches Cauldron club in some lovely keystone arched cellars just behind the Victoria Hotel (Ringo Starr and Rory Storm helped him decorate it), and later the CubiKlub in Conway Street, Birkenhead, next door to the Majestic Ballroom. He also opened clubs in Preston and surrounding areas. Stars that appeared, many of whom also stayed with Clive, included Rod Stewart, Millie, Donovan, Little Eva, Little Richard (who also baptised Clive in a stream they passed while Clive was taking him to the next venue), Cilla Black (who originally made the coffee and sang for free at Clive’s club) and, of course, The Beatles.
Clive befriended Brian Epstein, and later, when Brian became the Beatles manager, was his minder and mentor. Clive was unfortunately being detained at the Queen’s pleasure when Brian Epstein died under mysterious circumstances at the young age of 32.
Clive and Sting at a Xingu village.
After Brian’s death, Clive lived in London for a time, selling jewellery he made from nails, and there became friends with Freddie Mercury and Lemmy, who were also street traders. In London he met Neridi, and they moved to Brazil, where Clive bought some land and set up the Strawberry Fields club and naturist centre, taking the Beatles sound across the Atlantic to South America. In Brazil he came face to face with the massive corruption there, and the terrible fate of the Indians. He became close to the Xingu tribe, and lived life as an Indian. He produced films, he introduced Sting to the Xingu, he commissioned a triple hulled boat, Survival, and turned it into a floating museum of Indian culture, and sailed the seas and the rivers of Brazil spreading the word. This brought him into serious conflict with the authorities in many places, but despite being imprisoned, attacked (himself and his boat), and beaten he held true to his task and nowadays is campaigning against the dams that are being built in Brazil and flooding the lands where the Xingu and other tribes dwell.
He remains outspoken, exposing the true reasons for the construction of the dams, and laying bare the corruption and greed associated with many of the organisations that inflict great hardship on the tribes, and are acting on hidden agendas to exploit the wealth of the Amazon.
In the modern world, with all the cheating and misery created by governments and powerful companies, there is a great need for more Clive Kellys.
More, and there is much much more, about Clive in his autobiography Clive Alive due out soon,
and at www.cktbmm.com, and in The Clive Kelly Story on YouTube.