We’re taking another tumble down the rabbit hole into Ireland’s rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame. Get ready to meet more of Ireland’s rock gods and the places that shaped them.
First stop: East Belfast.
A shining light in the world’s rock ‘n’ roll mantle went out last year when legendary axeman Gary Moore passed away. His music and influence will live on. And what music! Think of Gary Moore as a kind of traveling blues man; he joined many a band for a spell, left and went solo, dabbled in this project, played lead guitar for that. The man was a prolific musician.
If you hadn’t jammed with Gary Moore, then quite frankly you weren’t all that. Everyone from George Harrison, to B.B King to Phil Lynott had played with Gary over the years.
Gary’s story began in the housing estates of East Belfast. His father was a music promoter which meant that the Moore household was a musical one. At the tender age of sixteen Gary left home for the bright lights and opportunities of Dublin City.
The Dublin music scene was a close-knit one, and it wasn’t long before Gary bumped into and formed a band with another of Ireland’s rock gods, Phil Lynott. The band was Skid Row, the sound was raw and the gigs were explosive.
Skid Row eventually disbanded and Gary would later jam with Lynott again in Thin Lizzy in 1973. Being something of a lone wolf, he only hung around for about a year.
Gary had a successful solo career, and probably his best-known work is Still Got the Blues for You.
Gary Moore will forever be remembered as a ‘musician’s musician’, and he’s certainly remembered in Belfast as one of the main talents on Belfast’s Music Tour.
Shane MacGowan is Ireland’s rock ‘n’ roll pirate, poet and musical icon. He has worked with Nick Cave, Joe Strummer, Pete Doherty, Johnny Depp and Paloma Faith, and is best known as singer in The Pogues.
MacGowan spent his early childhood in County Tipperary but moved to London town at a young age. As a young man he was into punk bands like The Clash, and in the mid 1970’s formed his first band by the name of The Nipple Erectors. While The Nips (as they were known) achieved little success, The Pogues, of course, did.
In 1982, James Fearnley, Peter Stacy, Jem Finer and MacGowan formed the band Pogue Mahone – a cheeky anglicisation of the Gaelige for póg mo thóin, (meaning ‘kiss my backside’). Despite their trad rock style, their most enduringly famous song has been Fairytale of New York, recorded in 1987 with the late Kirsty MacColl.
And so was born the one song you can’t get through the festive season without. To this day it tops every poll for best Christmas song ever. In 2006, MacGowan was voted into the NME “Rock Heroes Hall of Fame”, showing his influence extends into the next generation of rockers.
No rundown of Irish rockers would be complete without U2. Dublin City’s most successful export since Arthur Guinness made a recipe for stout – U2 are one of the biggest bands in the world, selling more than 150 million records.
They formed in 1976 in Mount Temple School, when Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen were just teenagers. They are firmly a Dublin band, playing some of their first gigs here and – 20 years later – some of their biggest.
Ask most people in Ireland where they experienced their first concert and chances are “The Point” will be the answer. Dublin’s Point Depot (now rebuilt as The O2) was Ireland’s premier live music venue. In 1989 and 1990, U2 played famous New Year’s Eve concerts here and The Point was also the venue for the “Rattle and Hum’ film.
Their Sweetest Thing video is an ode to the city. It was Bono’s apology to his wife Ali for forgetting her birthday. He takes her on a carriage ride along Fitzwilliam Place, Upper Fitzwilliam Street and Fitzwilliam Square, while various performers pop up along the way. Watch out for Riverdance, Boyzone, boxer Steve Collins, the Artane Boys Band, and strippers (don’t be fooled – our firemen do not look like that!). They also filmed the video for A Celebration in Kilmainham Gaol.
At this stage, these guys almost own the city. The Clarence Hotel in Temple Bar is owned by Bono and The Edge, while Windmill Lane recording studio is known as the U2 studio. In fact, they officially got the Keys to the City in 2000. This includes the right to pasture sheep on common ground – which of course Bono actually did.
U2 fans on a trip to Dublin should check out this adorable map of U2′s Dublin hotspots, which includes the Bonovox store where who-know-who got his nickname.
Today a new generation of bravados are shakin’ up the music industry and causing a stir. New bands such as The Funeral Suits, The Minutes and Republic of Loose are carrying the torch for the next generation.
For such a small island we do make an awful lot of racket, eh?!
Missed Part 1? Here’s the first part of our Rock stars blog: Van Morrison, Rory Gallagher and Phil Lynott.