A 68-year-old New Hampshire man has become a TikTok sensation, with followers numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Bob Kelly, of Rindge, said he's not a very good piano player, but his music and his message are apparently hitting the right notes.
Kelly became popular on TikTok as he wrote music to lyrics urging people to stay home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I have no idea exactly how many people have seen it in China, but over 30 million in what we used to call the free world," he said.
Kelly said one of his friends talked him into going on TikTok, where he now has nearly 265,000 followers and more than 2 million likes. But the reason for the popularity is a mystery to him.
"I have no idea," he said. "I think just sometimes it's the message that gets to them. Sometimes it's a need out there."
That message can be serious and is often aimed at the LGBTQ community, as well as to those suffering from illness. Kelly himself is living with AIDS, and his messages are often personal.
"I'm the old man on the dance floor, and the youngsters are staring at me," Kelly raps in one video.
Kelly said he once thought about making a career in music, but opted instead to work for a phone company.
"Mostly it was about pay," he said. "It was about regular eating, not having to worry about where the next gig was coming from, all of that stuff."
Kelly said he's considered by some to be the TikTok grandfather, often asked to read personal messages. He recorded one Monday and was amazed by what happened next.
"By the time I went to bed last night, 30,000 people had looked at it," he said.
Kelly remains an optimist, despite everything going on in the world. He said COVID-19 reminds him of polio when he was growing up, and the unrest in the streets reminds him of protests over Vietnam.
But he sticks to his optimism for one main reason.
"Things are going to continue to get better because of you," he said. "You're going to change the world. Just keep working at it."