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Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA

Birth of Ali McMordie, Bass Guitarist of Stiff Little Fingers

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Alistair Jardine “Ali” McMordie, bass guitarist best known as a founding member of the punk rock band Stiff Little Fingers, is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on March 31, 1959. He plays with the band from 1977 until they break up in 1983 and joins them on the first few years of reunion tours five years later.

Prior to becoming Stiff Little Fingers, Jake Burns (vocals and guitar), Henry Cluney (guitar), Gordon Blair (bass), and Brian Faloon (drums), are playing in a rock music cover band, Highway Star (named after the Deep Purple song), in Belfast. Upon the departure of Blair, McMordie takes over on bass. Cluney has by this time discovered punk, and introduces the rest of the band to it. They decide that Highway Star is not a punk enough name, and after a brief flirtation with the name “The Fast,” decide to call themselves Stiff Little Fingers, after The Vibrators‘ song, which appears on the album Pure Mania.

Stiff Little Fingers is formed in 1977 at the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which informs much of their songwriting. They are the first punk band in Belfast to release a record – the “Suspect Device” single comes out on their own independent label, Rigid Digits. Their album Inflammable Material, released in partnership with Rough Trade Records, becomes the first independent LP to enter the UK top 20.

In the face of low sales and concert attendances, Stiff Little Fingers disbands in 1983. McMordie joins a group of Reading musicians in the newly formed dance-punk band, Friction Groove. They secure a deal with Warner label, Atlantic Records, and go on to record an album, The Black Box, in Berlin and Brussels, from which the first single, “Time Bomb,” charts very briefly.

Around 1986 McMordie provides, along with other Friction Groove members, the core band behind Sinéad O’Connor, who had just arrived in London from Dublin. He is later sacked.

Between 1992 and 1994, McMordie is executive producer for the Peace Together Irish concert events. Since 1994 he has been the tour manager for American artist Richard Hall, AKA Moby, with whose band he has sometimes played bass. He has also been used as the live bassist for Belfast singer-songwriter Dan Donnelly, having played in Dan’s live band at the Beautiful Days music festival in Devon in 2006.

In 2006, it is announced that McMordie is rejoining Stiff Little Fingers for their current tour, and subsequently he rejoins the band on a permanent basis. As of 2021, he is still playing bass with Stiff Little Fingers.

Besides being a live musician, McMordie runs Alistair McMordie Tour Management.


Author: Jim Doyle

As a descendant of Joshua Doyle (b. 1775, Dublin, Ireland), I have a strong interest in Irish culture and history, which is the primary focus of this site. I am a Network Engineer at The Computer Hut, LLC, which is my salaried job. I am a member of the Irish Cultural Society of Arkansas, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization (2010-Present, President 2011-2017) and a commissioner on the City of Little Rock Arts+Culture Commission (2015-2020, 2021-Present, Chairman 2017-2018).

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