Tom Kelly

Tom Kelly, who graduated from Westside in 1967, is best known for the music he wrote with Bill Steinberg that generated hits for well-known pop music artists, including Pat Benatar, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, The Bangles, REO Speedwagon, Whitney Houston, and Phil Collins. The recordings include five number-one singles on Billboard’s Top 1000, including “Like a Virgin” and “True Colors.” Kelly also received 16 American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) awards for top 50 songs. He was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2011. Kelly first launched his music career by playing weekend gigs with Purdue students and Westside graduates Nick Kildahl and Doug Livingston. He then played bass guitar and sang in several bands in the late 1960s and early 1970s. After moving to Los Angeles, he played in Dan Fogelberg’s backup band. He and other band members recorded two albums in 1976 and 1977 under the band name Fool’s Gold. He also accompanied Toto on their 1979 World Tour as a backup singer and rhythm guitarist, and sang background vocals on the Toto albums Toto IV and The Seventh One. In 1981, Kelly wrote his first hit song, “Fire and Ice,” with Pat Benatar for her Precious Time album. He then collaborated with Steinberg on several other hit songs. They also released their own album, Taking a Cold Look, in 1983 under the band name i-Ten.

Hit songs and the artists who recorded them include:

“True Colors,” recorded by Cyndi Lauper and by Phil Collins,
“Alone,” originally recorded by his band i-Ten,
“In Your Room,” recorded by The Bangles (co-written with Susanna Hoffs),
“Eternal Flame,” recorded by The Bangles (co-written with Susanna Hoffs),
“Screams and Whispers,” recorded by REO Speedwagon (co-written with Gary Richrath),
“Can’t Get You Out of My Heart,” recorded by REO Speedwagon (co-written with Kevin Cronin),
“Over the Edge,” recorded by REO Speedwagon (co-written with Gary Richrath),
“I Don’t Want to Lose You,” originally recorded by his band i-Ten, ReRecorded by REO Speedwagon,
“I Drove All Night,” recorded by Cyndi Lauper, by Roy Orbison and by Celine Dion,
“I’ll Stand by You,” recorded by The Pretenders (co-written with Chrissie Hynde),
“Like a Virgin,” recorded by Madonna, and
“So Emotional,” recorded by Whitney Houston

Kelly says that while he was not a standout student, he did appreciate the education he received at Westside. “I must say that the average Westside student was a cut above the average bear,” Kelly says. “It was a small group, but a very intelligent and clever bunch; a friendly and safe bunch of kids to be around. I was proud to be from Westside.”