Former Cry Of Love frontman Kelly Holland was in the latter stages of a severe abdominal infection, which ended his life early Monday, reports News & Observer. Holland was 52 years old and is survived by his son, 18-year-old Elijah Holland of Sacramento, California.
“A buddy went to see Kelly at the hospital a few days ago and it was obvious he was not feeling too good,” said Backsliders drummer Jeff Dennis, one of Holland’s old bandmates. “But then these girls came into his room, and he just lit up and started telling jokes. Comedy was his way of bringing people into his universe.”
Holland will be best remembered for his time in Cry Of Love, a Raleigh rock band whose 1993 debut album ‘Brother’ sold more than 200,000 copies.
His yowling voice elevated Cry Of Love to near-stardom, and the band had a string of sizable rock-radio hits — “Peace Pipe”, “Bad Thing” and “Too Cold In The Winter”. Cry Of Love hit the road to play clubs and open for Aerosmith and Robert Plant, but Holland struggled with touring. While he performed well, the workload of being on the road for more than a year took its toll.
“Through it all, he was able to sing fantastically,” said Jason Patterson, Cry Of Love’s drummer. “Kelly was the greatest rock and roll singer I’ve ever known, but the boy had some demons, too. There were a lot of things he just could not get past, and they ate him up from the inside out.”
Holland left Cry Of Love after one album, to be replaced by current Warrant frontman Robert Mason. He spent the intervening years in a series of local bands, including Loaded Goat with Michael Gardner and Sundog with Jeff Dennis. He also played drums and sang in the cover band Crush.
Before he died, Holland was admitted to WakeMed in Raleigh, North Carolina, where a steady stream of friends came by to visit.
“Vocalists like Kelly are few and far between,” said Dennis. “He was a great, great singer. A real handful, too, not easy to be in a band with. He had some routines and stuff about how he needed to go through the day that could be tough to deal with. But he was just so frickin’ talented, you were willing to do it. He was one of those guys who’d mark you or scar you, however you look at it. He made a dent in your psyche that you’ll carry forever.”