NI Music Facts
NI's Music Stories
fans were on tenterhooks during the summer of 2009, when the death of Michael Jackson led to a revived interest in his recorded works. As numerous Michael Jackson singles entered the charts during the first week of July, midweek sales figures indicated that Ruby Murray’s 54 year old world record may be broken. In 1955, Ruby had set the world record for having the most singles by one artist in the UK Top Twenty in one week, with five records charting in one week in March.When the chart rundown was announced on Sunday 5th July 2009, Jackson had five singles in the Top Twenty, equalising Ruby’s record but not breaking it. As the person who set the record, Ruby remains the record holder.
from Derry is best known for his hit single ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ with the band
, which was used in the UK Labour Party’s 1997 election campaign. Cunnah said in an interview in 2001 that he couldn’t listen to the song as he’d heard it too much during the campaign, but that he would never forget his time touring the country with the leaders of the party. D:Ream recently reformed and will release a new album in 2011.
is the only Irishman to have ever written a song for Elvis. ‘My Boy’, was originally written by Coulter for the actor Richard Harris, and was covered by Elvis during his Las Vegas shows in the late 1970s. The recorded version became the biggest selling single of the last few years of Elvis’ life.
One of the UK’s most well-known hymns, ‘There Is a Green Hill Far Away’, is believed to have been inspired by a small hill just outside Derry city’s walls. The writer Cecil Frances Alexander wrote the hymn at a sick child’s bedside, and said the hill reminded her of the one on which Jesus was crucified. It was first published in her 1848 book ‘Hymns For Little Children’, which also featured the favourites ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’.
One of the most famous songs associated with Ireland, ‘Danny Boy’ is sung to the tune of ‘The Londonderry Air’. It was first written down in the town of Limavady in County Londonderry by Jane Ross in the early 1850s who is believed to have heard a blind fiddler in the town play the air.
She sent it to music collector George Petrie with the note that it was ‘very old’. Petrie published the air in ‘The Ancient Music of Ireland’ in 1855.
In 1974, Hugh Shields discovered a forgotten piece of traditional music which bore more than a passing resemblance to ‘The Londonderry Air’.
It had been played by blind harpist Denis Hempson, and collected at the Belfast Harp Festival of 1792 by Edward Bunting, who later published it in 1796. Entitled ‘Aislean an Oigfear’ or ‘The Young Man’s Dream’, it is now widely regarded as the origin of the famous tune. Popular modern song ‘You Raise Me Up’ is also influenced by ‘The Londonderry Air’.
were the last band to perform on the BBC 1 edition of long-running popular music show ‘Top of the Pops’ in July 2005, playing ‘Chasing Cars’.
The song was later voted the ‘Best Song of the Noughties’ in a nationwide TV poll, and won the accolade of ‘Best Song of All Time’ in a Virgin Radio poll.
In 2009, the music licensing body PPL confirmed that ‘Chasing Cars’ was the most played song of the decade.
Before they were famous, members of Snow Patrol appeared on ‘Top of the Pops’ playing with Scottish labelmates Belle & Sebastian on their debut appearance on the show. They’d convinced production team members that they were members of Belle & Sebastian, and the performance of ‘Legal Man’ ended up as a raucous affair with so many people on the stage. The band was later stopped by security when they sneaked onto the set of ‘Eastenders’.
is the only Irishman to have played the legendary Woodstock festival in 1969, accompanying Joe Cocker. Henry still has the Les Paul guitar that he played on stage at the festival. He was in a relationship with Janis Joplin for a time, and has talked about the death of Joplin and many of his other friends like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Keith Moon, as they succumbed to drug use and the excesses of rock’n’roll. Henry credits his long term partner Josie as the woman who saved him from a similar demise.
was known for his eccentric style and personality. He was once stopped at Moscow airport by Soviet police who suspected he was carrying a concealed weapon. It turned out to be an alarm clock which he had stuffed into his pocket whilst rushing to get ready in his hotel room.