seamus dubhghaill

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


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Birth of Feargal Sharkey, Singer & Music Industry Executive

Seán Feargal Sharkey, a singer from Northern Ireland most widely known as the lead vocalist of punk rock band The Undertones in the 1970s and 1980s, and for solo works in the 1980s and 1990s, is born in Derry, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland on August 13, 1958.

Sharkey joins The Undertones shortly after their formation in 1975. They have several UK hits, with songs such as “Teenage Kicks,” “Here Comes the Summer,” “My Perfect Cousin,” “Wednesday Week” and “It’s Going to Happen!” The band splits in 1983 citing musical differences, with Sharkey pursuing a solo career and other members of the band forming That Petrol Emotion the following year.

Before his solo career takes off, Sharkey is also the singer of the one-shot group The Assembly with ex-Yazoo and Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke (pre-Erasure). In 1983 their single “Never Never” is a No. 4 hit in the UK Singles Chart.

Sharkey’s debut single is a collaboration with Madness member Cathal Smyth titled “Listen to Your Father.” The single is released on Madness’s label Zarjazz in 1984, reaching No. 23 in the UK chart. The track is performed on Top of the Pops with members of Madness.

Sharkey’s solo work is significantly different from the post-punk offerings of The Undertones. His best-known solo material is the 1985 UK chart-topping single penned by Lone Justice frontwoman Maria McKee, “A Good Heart,” which goes to No. 1 in several countries including the UK in late 1985. He also has a UK Top 5 hit in 1986 with “You Little Thief.” His eponymous debut album reaches No. 12 in the UK Albums Chart.

Following on from his second album Wish in 1988, Sharkey achieves further success in 1991 with his UK Top 30 album Songs From The Mardi Gras, which produces the No. 12 hit single “I’ve Got News for You.”

Starting in the early 1990s Sharkey moves into the business side of the music industry, initially as A&R for Polydor Records, and then as managing director of EXP Ltd. He is appointed a member of the Radio Authority for five years from December 1998 to December 2003.

When the Undertones reunite in 1999, Sharkey is offered the opportunity to rejoin the group but turns down the offer. His position as lead vocalist/frontman for the Undertones is taken by fellow Derry native Paul McLoone, who is also a radio presenter for the Irish national and independent radio station, Today FM.

Sharkey becomes chairman of the UK Government task force the ‘Live Music Forum’ in 2004, to evaluate the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on the performance of live music, and gives public evidence before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on November 11, 2008.

In 2008, Sharkey is appointed as the CEO of British Music Rights, replacing Emma Pike. In October 2008, he becomes head of UK Music, an umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK’s commercial music industry. He has become prominent in criticising the use of Form 696 by the Metropolitan Police requiring event promoters to provide data on performers and audiences. He resigns from UK Music on November 11, 2011.

In 2011 Sharkey makes a one-off appearance in a set named Erasure + Special Guests singing “Never Never.” He states that he has not sung live for 20 years and that Vince Clarke is the only person he would have returned for.

Sharkey appears on BBC Radio Newcastle, interviewed by Simon Logan on the afternoon show on August 7, 2013. He speaks about his career and his decision to retire from the stage. “I’ve had an absolutely brilliant career… It’s time to get off the stage and make room for [new artists].”

Sharkey is awarded the “Scott Piering Award” by the radio industry in 2004, the “Bottle Award” at the International Live Music Conference in 2006, and an Honorary “Doctor of Arts” by the University of Hertfordshire in 2008. In 2009 he enters The Guardian‘s MediaGuardian 100 at number 56. In 2010 he appears in Wired‘s The Wired 100 at number 45. The same year he receives a Doctor of Letters honoris causa from the University of Ulster in recognition of his services to music.

Sharkey is appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to music.


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Birth of Davy Carton, Co-Founder of The Saw Doctors

Davy Carton, singer, songwriter, and rhythm guitarist, is born in Islington, London, on April 10, 1959. He is best known as a core member of The Saw Doctors, the folk-rock band he co-founds with Leo Moran and others in 1987.

Carton moves permanently to Tuam, County Galway, with his family in 1966. As a teenager he attends Tuam’s Christian Brothers school, where he forms the punk band Blaze X with fellow students Paul Cunniffe, Paul Ralph, and Ja Keating. He works in a local textile factory after leaving school, but continues to play with Blaze X until the band dissolves in 1981, the year Carton marries his girlfriend Trisha.

Working full-time in the textile factory throughout Ireland’s economically bleak 1980s, Carton largely puts his musical career on hold to support his wife and three young sons.

In the late 1980s, Carton gets together for a pint with Leo Moran, formerly of Irish reggae band Too Much for the White Man. Carton and Moran begin gigging around Galway with a handful of their own rootsy-rock compositions.

The duo adopts the name Saw Doctors — travellers who earn money by sharpening saws in old Ireland — until they can think of something better. As the band grows, the opportunity to find a better name never arises.

Carton finally gives up his day job in 1989, when the Saw Doctors rise to prominence and begin touring with bands including The WaterboysHothouse Flowers, and The Stunning.

Carton’s achievements with the Saw Doctors include six studio albums, two live albums, a concert DVD, several compilation albums, and extensive tours throughout Europe and the United States. Noted for his witty, rapacious lyrics, Carton has co-written almost all of the band’s songs, including “I Useta Lover,” one of the all-time best-selling singles in Ireland.

The Saw Doctors’ lyrics tend to stay out of political issues. “I’m not a politician, and I never will be a politician,” Carton tells the website PopMatters in 2003. “What I like to do is go into a room of people and make them sing along and whatever. I’m not going to tell them how to vote – there’s enough people doing that already. I’d rather talk about girlfriends and football. We don’t like to write about things we don’t really know about. We know about rejection from girls and all that, so we can write about that.”


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Birth of Shane MacGowan, Lead Singer of The Pogues

shane-macgowanShane Patrick Lysaght MacGowan, Anglo-Irish musician and singer, best known as the lead singer and songwriter of Celtic trad punk band The Pogues, is born to Irish parents in Pembury, Kent, England, on December 25, 1957.

MacGowan spends his early childhood in County Tipperary, before his family moves back to England when he is six years old. He lives in many parts of the southeast of England, including Brighton and London.

MacGowan’s father, Maurice, works for a department store. MacGowan’s mother, Therese, is a singer and traditional Irish dancer, and has worked as a model in Dublin. In 1971, after attending Holmewood House School at Langton Green, Tunbridge Wells, MacGowan earns a literature scholarship and is accepted into Westminster School. He is found in possession of drugs and is expelled in his second year.

MacGowan gets his first taste of fame in 1976 at a concert by British punk band The Clash, when his earlobe is damaged by Jane Crockford, later to be a member of Mo-dettes. A photographer snaps a picture of him covered in blood and it makes the papers, with the headline “Cannibalism at Clash Gig.” Shortly after this, he forms his own punk rock band, The Nipple Erectors, later renamed The Nips.

MacGowan draws upon his Irish heritage when founding The Pogues and changes his early “punk” voice for a more authentic sound with tutoring from his extended family. Many of his songs are influenced by Irish nationalism, Irish history, the experiences of the Irish in London and the United States, and London life in general.

Between 1985 and 1987, he co-writes “Fairytale of New York,” which he performs with Kirsty MacColl. In the coming years MacGowan and The Pogues release several albums.

After The Pogues throw MacGowan out for unprofessional behaviour, he forms a new band, Shane MacGowan & The Popes, recording two studio albums, a live album, three tracks on The Popes Outlaw Heaven (2010) and a live DVD, and touring internationally. From December 2003 until May 2005, Shane MacGowan & The Popes tour extensively in the UK, Ireland, and Europe.

The Pogues and MacGowan reform for a sell-out tour in 2001 and each year from 2004 to 2009 for further tours, including headline slots at GuilFest in England and the Azkena Rock Festival in Basque Country. In May 2005, he rejoins The Pogues permanently.

The Pogues’ last performance on British soil occurs on July 5, 2014 at the British Summer Time festival in London’s Hyde Park.

For many years MacGowan suffers from binge drinking and heroin use. In 2001, Sinéad O’Connor reports MacGowan to the police in London for drug possession in what she says is an attempt to discourage him from using heroin. Initially furious, MacGowan later expresses gratitude towards O’Connor and claims that the incident helped him kick his heroin habit.

MacGowan has long been known for having very bad teeth. He loses the last of his natural teeth around 2008. In 2015, he has 28 new dentures on a titanium frame fitted in a nine-hour procedure which is the subject of an hour-long television programme. Dr. Darragh Mulrooney, the dental surgeon who carries out the procedure, comments that MacGowan recorded most of his great works while he still had some teeth: “We’ve effectively re-tuned his instrument and that will be an ongoing process.”

In the summer of 2015, MacGowan falls as he is leaving a Dublin studio, fracturing his pelvis. He is seen in public on crutches by December 2015, and continues to experience difficulty with general mobility.


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Birth of The Pogues’ Guitarist Philip Chevron

philip-chevronPhilip Ryan, Irish singer-songwriter and guitarist professionally known as Philip Chevron and best known as a member of The Pogues, is born on June 17, 1957. He is regarded as one of the most influential figures in Irish punk music.

Chevron grows up in Santry, a suburb of Dublin. Beginning in the late 1970s, he is lead singer and co-founder of the punk rock group The Radiators from Space, receiving some critical acclaim but little widespread popularity or financial success. Following a temporary breakup of the band in 1981, he lives in London for a while where he meets and befriends Shane MacGowan through time spent working together at a record shop. Following the release of the Pogues’ 1984 debut album Red Roses For Me, Chevron is invited to join the band as a temporary replacement for banjo player Jem Finer while on paternity leave. He takes over as guitarist following MacGowan’s decision to concentrate on singing, thereby becoming a full-time member of the band in time for the recording of its second album, Rum, Sodomy and the Lash.

Chevron proves himself as a singer-songwriter, writing the songs Thousands Are Sailing and Lorelei among others. He leaves The Pogues in 1994 following problems with drugs and alcohol. In 2003, he reforms The Radiators (Plan 9) with ex-Pogues bassist Cait O’Riordan. They release the album Trouble Pilgrim in 2006.

In later years, he becomes The Pogues’ unofficial spokesperson and resident expert on the reclusive MacGowan, frequently visiting online fora and directly answering questions from fans. In 2004, he personally oversees the remastering and re-release of The Pogues’ entire back catalogue on CD. He tours regularly with The Pogues, who reunite after a successful reunion tour in 2001.

In June 2007, The Pogues’ website announces that Chevron has been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. In early 2008, the website announces that Chevron has recovered, and to his surprise and joy, his hearing has returned to almost pre-treatment levels. He embarks on the March 2008 tour of the United States and manages to sing Thousands Are Sailing at each performance. By 2009, Chevron appears to have recovered from the cancer.

However, in May 2013, it is announced that the cancer has returned and it is “lethal.” In June he stoically tells the Irish Daily Mail, “I am a gay, Irish, Catholic, alcoholic Pogue who is about to die from cancer – and don’t think I don’t know it.” Chevron dies on October 8, 2013 in Dublin at the age of 56. His last public appearance is at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin for a fundraiser in August of that same year.