In the late 1970’s everyone loved The Undertones; the authenticity of the young lads from ordinary homes in Northern Ireland. Feargal Sharkey, the lead singer with distinctive angular features and don’t-care clothes seemed shy and awkward. They were everything that punk outside of London demanded – slightly weird teens with a vision and love of Ramones-style tuneful punk music. Luckily for Sharkey, there were remarkable songwriting brothers in the band. John O’Neill created the most perfect punk pop song which was so beloved by John Peel – Teenage Kicks.
For the first part of their career, the band continued to be lovable, bringing the politics of Ireland to the punk mix. But you could still believe that they were ordinary lads.
By 1981, though, Feargal Sharkey was moaning about stuff. By 1983, the band had split up, Sharkey had gone for a solo career and there was to be no reconciliation with the O’Neills. As a female fan, what was very noticable was Feargal Sharkey’s complete change in personal confidence. As a 19-year old, he came across as someone who knew he was an ordinary, weird-looking lad out of his depth in the music world. A few years later, with grooming, maturity, fashion advice and worldly experience, Feargal sadly came across as arrogant. The humble lad I had been keen on now seemed to think he was God’s gift to women and it made him uglier.
Here’s an extract from Rolling Stone Magazine in 1986 that illustrates it:
“…As he strolls into the wood-paneled bar at a tony uptown Manhattan hotel, Feargal Sharkey no longer looks anything like the pimply punk of yesteryear. Instead, he could pass for a youthful entrepreneur who’s stopped by to rub elbows with other young men on their way up. His longish, peppery-black hair is sleeked back, and his Comme des Garçons suit hangs, loose and stylish, on his wiry frame.” Mark Coleman
And this is where FS really pisses me off. In this 1986 interview, there’s some discussion about him having two female drummers in a video. But of course, they’re not real drummers – because he couldn’t actually find any girls who could play properly, could he?
So, Feargal – once I loved what you did, but that was a long time ago. O’Neill brothers – you wrote some fantastic songs so cheers for that!