"I don't want to become Shirley Bassey"
Feargal Sharkey (born Sean Feargal Sharkey, 13 August 1958, Derry) is a Northern Irish singer, who first found fame as the lead vocalist of pop punk band The Undertones, famous for the hit single "Teenage Kicks" and being discovered by John Peel. Before his solo career took off, he was also the singer of the one-shot group The Assembly, with the ex-Yazoo supremo Vince Clarke in 1983 (with their UK Singles Chart number 4 hit, "Never Never").
His best-known solo material is the 1985 UK chart-topping single penned by Maria McKee, "A Good Heart", which went to number one in several countries. His solo work is significantly different from the semi-punk offerings of The Undertones. He also got UK number 5 in 1986 with "You Little Thief". Both "You Little Thief" and "A Good Heart" have a common link. "You Little Thief" was written by Benmont Tench, a member of Tom Petty's band, in response to Maria McKee writing "A Good Heart" about him.
McKee herself later had a worldwide hit with "Show Me Heaven" from the soundtrack to the movie Days of Thunder. Starting in the early 1990s Sharkey moved into the business side of the music industry, initially as an A&R manager for Polydor Records, and then as Managing Director of EXP Ltd. He was appointed a Member of the Radio Authority for five years from December 1998 to December 2003. He then became Chairman of the UK Government task force the 'Live Music Forum' in 2004.
Key moments in Feargal-history
- 13/8/58: Born in Derry, Northern Ireland, the second youngest of seven children.
- 2/76: While still attending St Peters Secondary, run by the Christian Brothers, first rehearsal with The Undertones - then unnamed.
- 6/76: Feargal leaves school.
- 9/78: EP 'Teenage Kicks' released on Belfast's Good Vibrations label.
- 5/79: Debut LP 'The Undertones' released on Sire, to be followed by a repackage in October.
- 4/80: Second Undertones LP 'Hypnotised' released on Ardeck/EMI.
- 5/81: Third Undertones LP 'Positive Touch' released.
- 3/83: Fourth Undertones LP 'The Sin Of Pride' released and posthumously, the singles' compilation 'All Wrapped Up'.
- 5/85: Feargal decided he had had enough as the singer with Undertones. Within minutes, the bass player, drummer and two guitarists decided they had had enough as well
- 19/5/83: 'Never, Never' single collaboration with Vince Clarke's outfit The Assembly on Mute Records. A month later it reaches number 4 in the UK singles chart.
- 20/8/84: Feargal signs with Virgin Records.
- 1/10/84: 'Listen To Your Father', a song penned by Madness' Carl Smyth, released as label debut. It reaches number 23 and has Feargal opening TOTPS in the company of the Nutty Boys.
- 7/12/84: Feargal gives his first live performance for two years at London's Royal Albert Hall. He is joined by The Assembly for a version of 'Never, Never' and brings down the house with a storming version of Percy Sledge's 'When A Man Loves A Woman'. 'Dinner At Albert's' was a charity show in aid of the Ethiopian appeal.
- 4/85: Begins recording his first solo album with Dave Stewart (Eurythmics) producing.
- 6/85: 'Loving You' single released; reaches number 26 in the UK singles chart.
- 30/9/85: Feargal's version of Maria McKee's song 'A Good Heart', released as a single.
- 11/11/85: 'Feargal Sharkey' (The Album) released. It reaches number 12 in the last week of november.
- 12/11/85: 'A Good Heart' gives Feargal his first UK number 1; going on to be a hit all over the world.
- 25/12/85: 'You Little Thief' the second single from the album makes a technically shaky Xmas morning TV debut beamed to the nation from an underprivileged kids party on board a Virgin Atlantic Jumbo.
- 21/1/86: Back in the top 5 'You Little Thief' achieves it's highest chart position.
- 27/1/86: Feargal begins his first world solo tour, as most 'superstars' do, in Chippenham!
- 6/2/1986: Mother Ursula and sister Sybil Sharkey are taken hostage by terrorists while visiting friends in Londonderry. Luckily, they are released after four hours.
- 18/7/86: The first tour draws to a close in Sydney, Australia.
- 1/87: Feargal goes to America to begin songwriting collaborations.
- 5/87: Feargal and producer Danny Kortchmar begin recording the second album 'Wish' in Los Angeles. The album is completed in eight weeks with appearances from Keith Richards and other notables.
- 1/88: Feargal moves to Amsterdam and 'More Love' written by Benmont Trench (Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers) is the first single.
- 2/88: 'Wish' released in the UK. Despite a hectic promo schedule from Oslo to Brisbane the lack of commercial success sends Feargal onto the next project.
- 1/89: Writing for the new album takes Feargal from London to Nashville, New Orleans, Los Angeles and back to London.
- 6/90: Recording begins at Digital Recorders studio in Nashville for the new album. Feargal is assisted by notorious Nashville session men including guitarist Don Potter, and ex Muscle Shoals veterans, producer and keyboardist Barry Beckett and guitarist Reggie Young.
- 9/90: After eight weeks in the studio during the summer months the album, 'Songs From The Mardi Grass', is completed. The album contains various Feargal collaborations plus covers of John Hiatt's 'Love Like Blood', Maria McKee's 'To Miss Someone' and the traditional ballad 'She Moves Through The Fair'.
- 10/90: Under the knife for a tonsillectomy.
- 25/2/91: Release date 'I've Got News For You', the first single from the album 'Songs From The Mardi Grass'.
- 8/4/91: Release date of the album 'Songs From The Mardi Grass'.
- 1993: Works as A&R manager for Polydor
- 1993: Joins forces with Sinead O Connor and Peter Gabriel for Peace Together and records the charity single Be Still. Peace Together aimed to raise funds to support cross-community activities for young people in Northern-Ireland.
- ??: Managing Director for EXP Ltd.
- 12/1998: Becomes a member of the Radio Authority (till 2003).
- 2004: Chairman of the Live Music Forum, a government task force set up to promote live music and monitor the introduction of the new Licensing Act.