Musician Feargal Sharkey made an OBE in Queen’s birthday honours

Former The Undertones frontman Feargal Sharkey is to receive a Queen’s birthday honour for services to music.

Sharkey, 60, was the lead vocalist of the Northern Irish pop-punk band from Londonderry.

He is to be made an OBE, accepting an establishment endorsement far from his punk roots.

His most famed single with the band was Teenage Kicks. It was played by Britain’s top music radio presenter, John Peel, on BBC Radio 1 in November 1978.

Terri Hooley launches ‘Jump into the Arts’
Teenage Kicks propelled the band’s meteoric rise to fame after it was championed by Belfast record shop owner Terri Hooley (Paul Faith/PA)

Peel repeatedly referenced that song as his all-time favourite.

He said he cried the first time he heard it in September 1978 and was still reduced to tears until his death in 2004.

Teenage Kicks propelled the band’s meteoric rise to fame after it was championed by Belfast record shop owner Terri Hooley.

Mr Hooley said Sharkey’s voice was outstanding and he overcame adversity at the beginning, even being spat on in his native city.

“It was sort of a backlash because they were getting a bit of success.

“It is like you are not allowed to be famous, you are not allowed to be popular, everybody tries to put you down.

“That would be one of the reasons Feargal was a bit more driven, because he took a lot of the flak which a lot of the other band members did not get.”

Feargal Sharkey
Feargal Sharkey was presented with an honorary degree by the University of Ulster in 2010 (Paul Faith/PA)

The Undertones emerged during the 1970s conflict which tore Northern Ireland apart and their music offered young people a respite from the gloom of violence.

Mr Hooley had organised a Battle of the Bands in Belfast. He said: “The Undertones stole the show.”

They recorded Teenage Kicks the following day.

Mr Hooley added: “I just felt this record is wonderful, it is just fantastic and then I went to London with it and every record company told me it was rubbish.”

They sang about universal subjects like teenage angst at a time when most conversation focused on the polarised politics of the region.

They are the most successful band to have emerged from Derry and quickly became a support act to the Clash’s American tour.

Before the band split in 1983, the five-piece recorded several UK hits including Here Comes The Summer, My Perfect Cousin, Wednesday Week and It’s Going To Happen.

Brexit
Feargal Sharkey became former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s music tsar (Kirsty O’Connor/PA).

Sharkey launched a successful solo career and A Good Heart became a world-wide number one.

He later worked in music industry administrative roles and became former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s music tsar.

Sharkey has since moved on to other projects including environmental matters.

Old friend and political activist Eamonn McCann, from Derry, said he was passionate about preserving chalk streams and river fishing.

He has spent a lot of time walking canals, rivers and streams of Britain, and possessed an “encyclopedic” knowledge, Mr McCann said.

He recently addressed The Gathering, which brought environmental campaigners from across Northern Ireland to his native city.

He addressed a rapt audience for about 35 minutes and some were taken aback by his passion and knowledge of the subject, Mr McCann said.

“He is one of the leading environmental campaigners ever to come out of Derry probably.”

He added: “Feargal, as a singer with the Undertones, he carried the voice of Derry right around the world and did us all proud. As an environmental campaigner, now he is doing Derry proud through his activities.”

In 2008 Sharkey became head of UK Music, the body which represents the interests of the British commercial music industry.

He used his platform to oppose the Metropolitan Police’s Form 696, which makes event promoters share data on their acts and audience.

In 2010 he received an honorary degree from the University of Ulster in recognition of his services to music.

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