March 21, 2002 – Speedy Keen was born John David Percy Keen on March 29th 1945. Speedy became vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist and drummer for Thunderclap Newman, a band The Who’s guitarist Pete Townshend created in 1969, to play and record songs written by ‘Speedy’, who had been The Who’s roadie and chauffeur for Peter.
Originally Peter Townsend, with whom Keen shared a flat, played bass for the band under the pseudonym Bijou Drains. Speedy wrote The Who’s “Armenia City in the Sky”, the only song The Who ever performed that was specifically written for the group by a non-member.
Speedy’s mega hit number one song “Something In The Air” , which he also sang, appeared on the soundtracks of the films The Magic Christian (1969), The Strawberry Statement (1970) Kingpin (1996), Almost Famous (2000), The Dish (2000) and The Girl Next Door (2004). He also released 2 solo albums (Previous Convictions) and went on to be record producer for the British band The Heartbreakers and Motörhead. “I Promise You” from the second album was used in the American TV series, The Big C.
As a session musician Speedy Keen played for others such as Rod Stewart, The Mission, and Kenny G. He also provided music for television advertisements and television programmes such as The Zoo. As a writer, apart from “Something in the Air”, “Armenia City in the Sky” and “Club of Lights”, he wrote songs for The Swinging Blue Jeans (“Something’s Coming Along”) and Crokodile Tears (“Your Love”).
His voice, songs and unmistakable charm turned Thunderclap Newman’s lone album, Hollywood Dream, into what is surely the most intimate and touching work to come out of the largely overbearingly ambitious concept-album school of rock.
He died suddenly of heart failure at age 57 on march 21, 2002 .