Joe “Zippo” Kelley
(January 10, 1970 - August 8, 2010)
Joe “Zippo” Kelley was born on January 10th 1970 to his parents Joseph and Marie Valley Kelley. He was the eldest of two. His younger sister, Jennifer being only 18 months younger than Joe.
Joe attended the Immaculate Conception Grammar School. A Catholic school in Malden, Massachusetts. There Joe made his First Holy Communion, his Penance, and his Confirmation. He was very close to god, and Catholicism played an important role in Joe’s life.
After Catholic school, Joe then attended Malden High School. He had trouble with the shift from Catholic school to public school. He managed to graduate. He took a sheet metal class in High school, and also worked part-time at Metal Spinners. After High school Joe decided to attend the Bunker Hill Community College. He rediscovered he loved learning and majored in Criminal Justice. After he graduated from BHCC he went to Salem State University. At Salem, he got involved with the radio station. Many people met him there when he was a DJ. Then later, he became the Director. Around that time, Joe went to live in Salem instead of commuting. He liked it up there. He started fooling around with music and bands and Black Barbie was the first with Gretchen Shae and Christian. We would go and see them at TT’s and later the Middle East.
When Black Barbie split, Joe started Zippo Raid. He played the bass guitar in the Jonee Earthquake Band at the same time as Zippo Raid. He also played bass in Chanticlear with his good friend Joe Riot. He played with many people for many years and made many friends. Joe loved to play music. He always said “It’s only worth it if you have fun doing it.” He played in Zippo Raid for well over 10 years. The lineup changed over the years, but Zippo Raid still managed to release two albums, Punk Is In Season, and The Special Olympics of Punk Rock before disbanding in early 2007. Joe also started Joe Zippo and the Raiders soon after, but was short lived.
After graduation from SSU, Joe worked at the Phoenix. He hated the job. He had to try to keep lonely old people on the phone, which brought the company money. Joe had always cared about the elderly and did not like to see them taken advantage of. He left that job and went to a bank of some sort. Then, he went to the Mass. State Police Academy to qualify for the Department of Corrections. He became a Programs Officer, not a guard, and worked at MCI Walpole. The commute from Walpole to Malden was brutal. There were other things he didn’t like about it so, he eventually left.
Joe started working with chair cars. Taking people to doctor appointments and hospitals. He liked it a lot. He kidded around with the people and they loved him, working part-time as security in the Salem Hospital. Joe then got into the ambulance and he loved being an EMT. All the people who worked with him loved him. He also got involved with the Union. Joe later worked as a dialysis technician and he loved that too. The people knew him and enjoyed his presence. He made it fun for as many people as he could.
Joe was in a horrendous motorcycle accident on Labor Day weekend 2009 heading home from visiting his parents in northern New Hampshire. He broke two bones in his neck, two in his thoracic area, and two at the bottom of his spine. He was taken from Concord Hospital to Brigham Women’s in Boston. This untimely accident ultimately led to his death. In his journal, on July 22, 2010, he wrote he was in severe spinal pain.
Joe passed away in his sleep on August 8th 2010. He was 40 years old. His spirit still lives with the Joe Zippo Kelley Memorial Scholarship and also through his music, his friends, and his family. He is deeply missed and will never be forgotten. This is why every year the foundation puts on an annual show on the closest Saturday to his birthday to raise money for the scholarship.