seamus dubhghaill

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


Leave a comment

Death of Songwriter & Lyricist Jimmy Kennedy

jimmy-kennedyJames Kennedy, a Northern Irish songwriter and lyricist, dies in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England on April 6, 1984. In a career spanning more than fifty years, he writes some 2,000 songs, of which over 200 become worldwide hits and about 50 are all-time popular music classics. Until the duo of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Kennedy has more hits in the United States than any other Irish or British songwriter.

Kennedy is born near Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. His father, Joseph Hamilton Kennedy, is a policeman in the Royal Irish Constabulary, which exists before the partition of Ireland. While growing up in Coagh, Kennedy writes several songs and poems. He is inspired by local surroundings such as the view of the Ballinderry river, the local Springhill house and the plentiful chestnut trees on his family’s property, as evidenced in his poem Chestnut Trees. Kennedy later moves to Portstewart, a seaside resort.

Kennedy graduates from Trinity College, Dublin, before teaching in England. He is accepted into the Colonial Service, as a civil servant, in 1927.

While awaiting a Colonial Service posting to the colony of Nigeria, Kennedy embarks on a career in songwriting. His first success comes in 1930 with The Barmaid’s Song, sung by Gracie Fields. Fellow lyricist Harry Castling, introduces him to Bert Feldman, a music publisher based in London‘s “Tin Pan Alley,” for whom Kennedy starts to work. In the early 1930s he writes a number of successful songs, including Oh, Donna Clara (1930), My Song Goes Round the World (1931), and The Teddy Bears’ Picnic (1933), in which he provides new lyrics to John Walter Bratton‘s tune from 1907.

In 1934, Feldman turns down Kennedy’s song Isle of Capri, but it becomes a major hit for a new publisher, Peter Maurice. He writes several more successful songs for Maurice, including Red Sails in the Sunset (1935), inspired by beautiful summer evenings in Portstewart, Northern Ireland, Harbor Lights (1937) and South of the Border (1939), inspired by a holiday picture postcard he receives from Tijuana, Mexico, and written with composer Michael Carr. Kennedy and Carr also collaborate on several West End theatre shows in the 1930s, including London Rhapsody (1937). My Prayer, with original music by Georges Boulanger, has English lyrics penned by Kennedy in 1939. It is originally written by Boulanger with the title Avant de Mourir in 1926.

During the early stages of World War II, while serving in the British Army‘s Royal Artillery, where he rises to the rank of Captain, Kennedy writes the wartime hit, We’re Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line. His hits also include Cokey Cokey (1945), and the English lyrics to Lili Marlene. After the end of the war, his songs include Apple Blossom Wedding (1947), Istanbul (Not Constantinople) (1953), and Love Is Like a Violin (1960). In the 1960s he writes the song The Banks of the Erne, for recording by his friend from the war years, Theo Hyde, also known as Ray Warren.

Kennedy is a patron of the Castlebar International Song Contest from 1973 until his death in 1984 and his association with the event adds great prestige to the contest. He wins two Ivor Novello Awards for his contribution to music and receives an honorary degree from the New University of Ulster. He is awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1983.

Jimmy Kennedy dies in Cheltenham on April 6, 1984 at the age of 81, and was interred in Taunton, Somerset. In 1997 he is posthumously inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Birth of U2’s The Edge, David Howell Evans

the-edgeDavid Howell Evans, British-born Irish musician and songwriter best known by his stage name The Edge and as the lead guitarist, keyboardist, and backing vocalist of the rock band U2, is born at the Maternity Hospital in Barking, Essex, England on August 8, 1961. A member of U2 since its inception, he has recorded 13 studio albums with the band as well as one solo record.

The Edge is raised in Ireland after the Evans family relocates there while he is still an infant. He receives his initial formal education at St. Andrew’s National School in Dublin. As a child he also receives piano and guitar lessons, and practises music with his elder brother Richard. In 1976, at Mount Temple Comprehensive School, he goes to a meeting in response to an advert posted by another pupil, Larry Mullen Jr., on the school’s noticeboard seeking musicians to form a new band with him. Among the other pupils who respond to the note are Paul Hewson (Bono) and Adam Clayton. The band goes through a number of versions before becoming known as U2 in March 1978.

U2 begins its public performance life in small venues in Dublin, occasionally playing at other venues elsewhere in Ireland. In December 1979 they perform their first concerts outside Ireland, in London, and in 1980 begin extensive touring across the British Isles. Their debut album Boy is released in 1980.

In 1981, leading up to the October Tour, Evans comes very close to leaving U2 for religious reasons, but he decides to stay. During this period he becomes involved with a group called Shalom Tigers, in which bandmates Bono and Larry Mullen Jr. are also involved. Shortly after deciding to remain with the band, he writes a piece of music that later becomes Sunday Bloody Sunday.

U2 eventually becomes one of the most popular acts in popular music, with successful albums such as 1987’s The Joshua Tree and 1991’s Achtung Baby. Over the years, the Edge has experimented with various guitar effects and introduced influences from several genres of music into his own style, including American roots music, industrial music, and alternative rock. With U2, the Edge also plays keyboards, co-produced their 1993 record Zooropa, and occasionally contributes lyrics.

In addition to his regular role within U2, The Edge has also recorded with such artists as Johnny Cash, B. B. King, Tina Turner, Ronnie Wood, Jah Wobble, Holger Czukay, Jay-Z, and Rihanna. He has collaborated with U2 bandmate Bono on several projects, including the soundtracks to the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and the Royal Shakespeare Company‘s London stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange.

The Edge, Bob Ezrin, and Henry Juszkiewicz co-found Music Rising in 2005, a charity that helps provide replacement instruments for those that were lost in Hurricane Katrina. The instruments are originally only replaced for professional musicians but they soon realise the community churches and schools need instruments as well. The charity’s slogan is “Rebuilding the Gulf Region note by note” and has helped over a hundred musicians who were affected by the hurricane. The Edge also serves on the board of The Angiogenesis Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organisation dedicated to improving global health by advancing angiogenesis-based medicine, diets, and lifestyle.

In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine places him at number 38 on its list of “The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” In 2012, Spin ranks him 13th on their own list.