Kelly's Heroes

Album: It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah (1995)
Charted: 17

Songfacts®:

  • Black Grape were an English Rock band formed in 1993 by vocalist Shaun Ryder and dancer Bez, formerly of Happy Mondays. They recruited rapper Kermit and drummer Ged Lynch of the Manchester-based group The Ruthless Rap Assassins, plus guitarist Wags from The Paris Angels and American producer/multi-instrumentalist Danny Saber. This was the third single from their debut album, It's Great When You're Straight... Yeah, which was a critical and commercial success, topping the UK album chart in August 1995. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich listed it as his favorite CD of 1996.
  • This song lampoons society's obsession with celebrities. Ironically, Shaun Ryder became a national celebrity in 2010 after becoming the runner-up in the British TV Show, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! He told Q magazine in a 2011 interview: "With Kelly's Heroes I was writing about the worship of celebrities and what a dangerous and disappointing thing hero worship can be. That makes me laugh now. Fifteen years later and look at the culture we've got. Celebrities on every street corner and in every f--kin' jungle."
  • Ryder's lyrics were derived mainly from nonsense rhymes and humorous catch phrases. This song title was borrowed from 1970 war film, Kelly's Heroes about a group of World War II soldiers who go AWOL to rob a bank behind enemy lines.
  • Ryder changed the opening lyric from, "Don't talk to me about heroes - Most of these guys snort cocaine," to the less controversial, "Don't talk to me about heroes - most of these men sing like serfs," shortly before recording the song.
  • Black Grape's Shaun Ryder and Kermit revealed to NME that this was originally a rap track, inspired by Wu-Tang Clan, full of "hip-hop grooves." However, once they delivered the demo to their label it was decided the vibe needed to be changed. The management felt the band needed more of a "domestic rock" sound so they could break America.

Comments: 2

  • Brian Foley from TasmaniaHe does not sing 'Most of these men sing like surfs', Its 'Most of these men sink like subs'.
  • Brian Foley from Auckland, New ZealandHe does not sing 'Most of these men sing like surfs', Its 'Most of these men sink like subs'.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

The Punk Photography of Chris SteinSong Writing

Chris Stein of Blondie shares photos and stories from his book about the New York City punk scene.

Todd RundgrenSongwriter Interviews

Todd Rundgren explains why he avoids "Hello It's Me," and what it was like producing Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album.

The End Of The Rock EraSong Writing

There are no more rock stars - the last one died in 1994.

Amanda PalmerSongwriter Interviews

Call us crazy, but we like it when an artist comes around who doesn't mesh with the status quo.

Joan ArmatradingSongwriter Interviews

The revered singer-songwriter talks inspiration and explains why she put a mahout in "Drop the Pilot."

Eric BurdonSongwriter Interviews

The renown rock singer talks about "The House of the Rising Sun" and "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."