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magic memory Stereophonics' Kelly Jones says headlining Slane was 'incredible' career highlight

The Welsh rocker learned lessons from U2 on a support tour

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Kelly on stage

Kelly on stage

Kelly on stage

Stereophonics' singer Kelly Jones says headlining Slane Castle has been one of the great moments of his life and a highlight of the band's career.

The Welsh supergroup played the iconic Meath venue in 2002, and Jones tells how he gave his parents a rock star experience on the day.

"It was pretty incredible," Kelly tells the Sunday World. "We flew into Slane on a helicopter, my parents and me, it was unbelievable.

"And then we had The Edge from U2 at the side of the stage watching it… and that was only four or five years after we were playing in pubs!"

Stereophonics, who have just released a new album, had been the support act to Robbie Williams at Slane just three years earlier. But in 2002 they were top cats at both Slane and Glastonbury.

"That was a big summer for us," Kelly reflects. "Slane was an amazing event, and all of our friends came over from Wales as well."

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Stereophonics with the lads from U2 on the band's Elevation tour

Stereophonics with the lads from U2 on the band's Elevation tour

Stereophonics with the lads from U2 on the band's Elevation tour

Jones also tells how the band learned lessons when they supported U2 on their Elevation tour in 2001. "They took us on tour and we did Madison Square Garden after 911," he says.

"We saw the family of people they had around them. And the way we treat support acts is the way they treated support acts. We learned a lot from them.

"Like them, we've got a lot of people still with us from day one, including the same management and road crew from 25 years the road.

"Myself and Richard have been together since we were three years old at school, so as much as we've played with and hung out with some of the biggest musicians there's always been a great grounding in the band.

"My brother came on the road for 10 years. It was always important to us to keep our little bubble intact and feet on the floor as much as we can.

"Don't get me wrong, at times we all fell off that and we all did our little bit here and there, but ultimately we just wanted to make good music and try to keep pushing forward."

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Stereophonics have just released Oochya!

Stereophonics have just released Oochya!

Stereophonics have just released Oochya!

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Jones admits that he struggled to come to terms with his enormous fame when he first hit the big time.

"At the start I didn't know how to handle it," he explains. "I was only 22. One day I was working in the market selling fruit and veg and next I was on the front of every magazine in the country. I didn't know what the f**k was going on."

The greatest joy of his life, Jones stresses, is his role as a father.

He has four children - two with a former partner and two with his wife Jakki Healy - aged 17, 15, six and "almost two."

"Trying to plan a holiday is like trying to work out a f**kin' school trip," Kelly laughs.

Is he regarded as a cool dad by the teenagers? "No, I'm just their dad," he says.

"They don't know that much about what I do. They come to The 02, they come to the shows but I don't really put that spotlight on what I do at home at all.

"If they ask me I'll tell them. I'm pretty discreet and quiet about it. It's weird really. I was always the same at school, I never told anyone at school I was in a band.

"They can hear me singing in another room if I'm doing some warm-ups, but apart from that that's it. They did have a little glance on the last album, Kind, when it went to number one and Kanye West went to number two.

"They know Kanye West and they were a big like, 'oh f**k, he beat Kanye West!' 'Yes I did!' Then one of them goes, 'What's for tea?'"

Jones married his Irish wife, Jakki, in Kilrush, Co Clare back in 2013, with a list of guests that included Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, Paul Weller, actor Rob Brydon, Coleen Rooney, actor rocker Rhys Ifans, and actress Anna Friel.

"Jakki's family is from Co Clare so that's where we got hitched," Kelly tells me. "The priest told me 'this is going to be the biggest gig of your life, Kelly.'"

He was obviously a good priest, the bond was strong. "The bond is still strong," he laughs.

Their new album, Oochya!, is their 12th in 25 years. "This album is almost like a greatest hits, but they are all new songs," Kelly adds.

- STEREOPHONICS' new album, Oochya!, is out now.

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