Sunday 27 November 2016

Musical Irish Englishness?

Ireland is a very gifted nation musically, but all may not be quite as it seems when it comes to a certain three of its music stars.

The Boys are Back in Town

Phil Lynott, the late lead singer and bassist of rock outfit “Thin Lizzy” did not emanate from the “Emerald Isle”. He was actually born in August 1949 at Hallam Hospital (now known as Sandwell General Hospital) in West Bromwich, England, to an Irish mother and Guyanan father.

Christened at St Edward’s church in Selly Oak, Birmingham, he spent some of his early life in and around the city, and subsequently in Manchester when his mother moved there.

At the age of 4 he went to live with his Irish grandmother in Dublin while his mother remained in the UK. Although remaining in contact with his mother, he stayed in Ireland throughout what was said to be a happy childhood.

With his later years taken up with a dependency on drugs and alcohol, Lynott died at the age of 36, of pneumonia and heart failure, due to septicaemia, in January 1986.

In 2005 a life sized bronze statue of the singer was unveiled close to Grafton Street in Dublin (see image above). Since that time it has once been knocked off its pedestal by vandals in 2013 and more recently run into by a van snapping its base. Thankfully it has now been fully restored and it can be considered that “The Boy is Back in Town!”

All Kinds of Everything

In 1970 a fresh faced, pretty Irish girl became an overnight sensation winning the Eurovision Song Contest in Amsterdam with “All Kinds of Everything”

At the tender age of 18 Dana, born Rosemary Brown, became the first of Ireland’s record seven victories in the contest. But Irish Dana was actually born and grew up in the London suburb of Islington.

At the age of five, Dana’s parents decided to return to live in their native Derry in Northern Ireland. London was still a smog ridden city and because of the harmful effects it was having on some of her siblings, the family were convinced they would be better off, for health reasons, returning back over the sea.

In more recent times Dana Rosemary Scallon (as she is now referred to) served as a member of the European Parliament and has twice unsuccessfully run for the Irish Presidency. 

Often controversial with modernist views, it was revealed during her 2nd attempt at the Presidency that she was now a dual US and Irish citizen. She denied hiding this fact from the public, but it did not help her in the vote winning quest where she came 6th to Michael D Higgins.

Dana has four children and lives with her husband in County Galway, Ireland.

The Irish Rover

Shane MacGowan, best known as lead singer and songwriter of the Celtic punk band “The Pogues”, was born on Christmas Day in 1957 at Pembury, Kent, England to Irish parents.

“The Irish Rover” spent his early life in County Tipperary, but returned to the UK at the age of 6, living in many parts of the south-east of England during his youth including London and Brighton.

As a boy he won a literature scholarship into London's Westminster School, but was expelled in his second year at the historic seat of learning when caught in possession of drugs.

Pertinent to his “rock’n’roll” lifestyle, MacGowan has suffered from binge drinking for many years, becoming notorious for performing when under the influence of alcohol. In the summer of 2015 he fractured his pelvis when leaving a Dublin recording studio from which he still continues to experience mobility issues. He lives in Dublin with his long-term girlfriend.

All three artists are/were fiercely proud of their Irish nationality and in turn are proudly celebrated by their nation. 

But even though their heritage and background is obviously Irish, surely we British can also claim a part of them as our own?

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Flicking through TV channels this afternoon I came across Vintage TV with a show based on music of the 60s.

After a few tracks by such eminent artists as The Four Tops, the Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and James Brown, they came to playing the wonderful “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul and Mary.

The John Denver penned song became the trios biggest hit reaching no.1 in many countries in the world (though only getting to no.2 here in the UK).

Peter Yarrow, Noel Paul Stookey and Mary Travers were created as an entity in 1961 by manager Albert Grossman who auditioned many singers based in the New York folk scene.

Leaving on a Jet Plane (performed by the trio in 1986)

They went on to have hits with such memorable tunes as Puff the Magic Dragon, If I Had a Hammer, The Times They are A-Changin’ and Bog Dylan’s Blowin’ in the Wind to name but a few.

Yarrow and Stookey continue to this day as solo artists, however Mary Travers passed away in 2009 from complications after a marrow transplant related to leukaemia.