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Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 10 April 1949. Having played keyboards with bands like Skid Row and having done session work with X-Ray Specs vocalist Poly Styrene, he joined Kate Bush for the Tour Of Life in 1979. Interested in electronic music, McAlea built his own synthesizers, one of which he used on the Tour. Kate has also mentioned that McAlea would play classical piano pieces for her during recording sessions; the liner notes of the album Never For Ever thank “Kevin McAlea for his ingenuity and for playing me Chopin.”

McAlea played his home-built synth to accompany Kate’s piano parts during her performance of the song December Will Be Magic Again on the television special Kate, and plays synthesizer on the songs Waking The Witch and The Morning Fog.

He has also worked with Bees Make Honey, Clannad, Barbara Dixon, Dr Feelgood, Enya, David Gilmour, Roy Harper, Kirsty MacColl, Seal, Poly Styrene, and Kim Wilde. He has his own band, Celtic Orbis.