around all the time and Pennie Smith was hanging around to taking photographs. Joe Strummer was just a brilliant guy, he really looked aſter us, and he was very respectful too, most bands don’t always show too much respect to the support act, but he really did. The Stranglers were also very nice, when we played with them Jean-Jacques Burnel their bassist made sure that the venues doors didn’t open until we had done a sound check, which generally you don’t always get to do as a support act.

Do you have any contact with Fergal (Sharkey) at all these days (Ex lead singer), since he leſt the band in 1983? None at all, any contact that we do have is all through our manager. It was his decision to leave, he was always his own man. We hear different bits and pieces you know through the family connections that we have, but that’s it. When there were check points in Derry he was always getting arrested as would insist on speaking Irish to the soldiers when he got stopped, we were regularly calling his parents back in the day to go and get him out of the cells. One night aſter we had been on Top Of The Pops, when Jimmy Jimmy was in the charts, I was in Derry walking to my house in Bogside and I got stopped by the soldiers and they asked me what my occupation was, I told them I was a musician. More questions were asked, like what’s the name of your band then and when I told them I was the drummer in a band called The Undertones, I was all of a sudden surrounded by soldiers singing Jimmy Jimmy (in a cockney accent) and wanting

"We had Jimmy Page and Robert Plant sitting behind us and as if that wasn’t enough as they carried John’s coffin down the aisle aſter the eulogies had finished, they played Teenage Kicks, well we all looked round at each other and we all had tears rolling down our cheeks,"

autographs for their families, it was a surreal moment.

What are your fondest memories of the period where you were at the peak of your success doing things like Top of The Pops? To be honest I have achieved everything that I wanted to achieve in a relatively short space of time really, we made a record, met John Peel and did Top of the Pops. There are so many great memorise for all of us and many years ago I was lucky enough to meet Ringo Starr at an event. We had a chat, he was really nice, I got his autograph, we talked about drumming and he told me that he can’t read music. I am also as a big fan, in fact we all are of The Beatles, Paul McCartney and Wings and we were on the tour bus last time we toured and we all had a moment, our manager was playing some music and on came the brilliant Wings song, My Love, it was magical a real togetherness band moment, we just looked at each other, we all so love that song, it was a really beautiful moment. I was also able to see Paul McCartney play live in Liverpool in December, last year for the first time. He is seventy six years of age and he was just excellent, I loved all the stories that he told about The Beatles, Liverpool and his career, he was so engaged, there was some great dialogue with his audience. I would like us to do more of that when we play live at this stage of our careers.

Forty one years ago, the band wrote Teenage Kicks, just how proud are you of this song? I understand that

you were the one that persuaded the others to actually record it? Can you believe what a phenomenon it has become? No I can’t really. It has taken on a life of its own and when we went to John Peel’s funeral it really had an overwhelming impact on us all. We had Jimmy Page and Robert Plant sitting behind us and as if that wasn’t enough as they carried John’s coffin down the aisle aſter the eulogies had finished, they played Teenage Kicks, well we all looked round at each other and we all had tears rolling down our cheeks, then we could hear the crowd sing along to it outside. The last time we were in the area in 2016, we visited his grave and we were blown away that he has some of the lyrics on his gravestone, it reads, “teenage dreams so hard to beat”. He really put us on the map and when he visited Derry to do a documentary on us and we felt concerned at how he would be, but how wrong were they, he talked incessantly, it was incredible. He interrupted filming for a break at a local bar and our table was covered in drinks, alcohol and lots of it from well-wishers. There were lots of pints of Guinness from people just wishing him well, it was great for all of us as we helped him to drink it all.

Words Steve Plunkett

Read the full interview at


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