Birthday: August 13, 1958
Nationality: British, Irish, Northern Irish
Age: 62 Years, 62 Year Old Males
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Seán Feargal Sharkey
Born Country: Northern Ireland
Born in: Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Famous as: Singer
Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth Sharkey
father: Jim Sharkey
mother: Sibeal Sharkey
siblings: Bridgin Sharkey, Diarmuid Sharkey, Jimmy Sharkey, Michael Sharkey, Patricia Sharkey, Ursula Clifford
Who is Feargal Sharkey?
Feargal Sharkey is an Irish singer, best known as the lead vocalist of the pop punk group ‘The Undertones’ during 1970s and early 1980s. Born and raised in Londonderry, the second largest city in North Ireland, he came in contact with the members of still unnamed band, ‘The Undertones’ just four months before leaving school and started practicing with them. Although nothing is known about his musical training, he soon joined the group as their lead vocalist, holding gigs at schools, scout halls, youth clubs and pubs before publishing their debut LP, ‘Teenage Kicks’. By and by they became quite famous, releasing four albums before the group disbanded, after which Sharkey began his solo career and became known for his single, ‘A Good Heart’, an international success. Later he gave up singing and got involved with the business aspect of music. He was being appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to music in 2019.
Childhood & Early Years
Feargal Sharkey was born on 13 August 1958 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. His father, Jim Sharkey, an electrician by profession, was an active member of the Electrical Trade Union. His mother’s name was Sibeal Sharkey.
Born second youngest of his parents seven children, he had three brothers named Jimmy, Michael, and Diarmuid and three sisters called Patricia, Ursula and Bridgín. However, he had once said that he was born into a family of ten children, leading one to speculate that three had died in infancy.
He studied at St. Peters Secondary School, run by Christian Brothers. There, he joined the Scout movement and by 1976 became a scout leader. In February that year, he met the members of still unnamed band, ‘The Undertones’, at a scout hall and started rehearsing with them.
In June 1976, he left school and began working as ‘installation engineer’ or ‘linesman assistant junior’, delivering and repairing television sets for Radio Rental, receiving £7.01 per week for the job. Out of that, he had to hand over £5 to his mother.
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In 1976, Feargal Sharkey began his musical career as the lead singer with the still unnamed band, ‘The Undertones’, holding gigs at various schools and scout halls. On 16 March, he had his first gig at Saint Joseph's Secondary School, where he made a blunder with the group’s name.
Before the show began at Saint Joseph's, they were asked about the band’s name. Sharkey, unaware that there was already another group called ‘Eddie and the Hot Rods’, said it was ‘The Hot Rod’.
Sometime in late 1976, they held a show at the Waterside Youth Club, where Sharkey made yet another blunder, calling the band ‘Little Feat’, a name used by a well-known US group. To avoid repeated embarrassments, they finally selected ‘The Undertones’ as their permanent name.
In late 1976, punk rock arrived in UK and with that the group changed its focus, singing punk rock in schools and youth clubs, occasionally being paid for them. Finally in February 1977, they got their first fully-paid job, being hired by a pub called ‘Cashback’ on £30 per sitting.
Undertones remained with Cashback for the next eighteen months. Meanwhile in March 1978, they recorded a demo tape and sent its copies to various record companies, only to receive rejection letters. However, the copy they sent to John Peel, well-known BBC Radio 1 DJ, brought in good news.
John Peel helped them to record their debut LP, ‘Teenage Kicks’ at Belfast on 15 June 1978. He also began to play the songs at his program and very soon, the title song, ‘Teenage Kicks’, became very popular.
On 2 October 1978, Sharkey and Bradley signed a five-year contract with Sire Records on behalf of The Undertones. Thereafter on 26 October 1978, they performed ‘Teenage Kicks’ live on Top of the Pops and in November embarked on their first tour of the UK.
Their debut album, ‘The Undertones’, released in 1979, was a success. However, their second album, ‘Hypnotised’, released in April 1980, reached number six in the UK charts, while their third album, ‘Positive Touch’, released in 1981, peaked at 17. Their final album, ‘The Sin of Pride’, was recorded in 1983.
In early 1983, differences began to surface among the member of The Undertones. However, they remained together until July in order to fulfill agreed commitments, performing several gigs across Europe, playing their last concert in County Kildare in Ireland on 17th. They disbanded soon after this event.
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In 1984, Feargal Sharkey began his solo career, releasing his debut single, ‘Listen to Your Father’, in September. It reached No. 23 on the UK and No. 22 on the Ireland chart.
In 1985, he released his debut solo eponymous album, ’Feargal Sharkey’, which contained ten tracks including his single hits, ‘A Good Heart’ and ‘You Little Thief’. The album peaked at No 12 on UK Album chart and 7 on Australia (Kent Music Report) chart, apart from being certified UK Gold.
His second studio album, ‘Wish’ was released in 1988. But it turned out be quite disappointing in comparison to his first solo album, finding no place on the UK album. However, it peaked at 22 on the Swedish album chart and at 66 on Australia (Kent Music Report).
In 1991, he released his third and last album, ‘Songs from the Mardi Gras'. It peaked at No 27 on the UK Albums Chart and at 41 on the Swedish Album Chart. However, one of its tracks, "I've Got News for You", reached No. 12 on the UK and No. 8 on the Ireland Chart.
Possibly in 1992, Feargal Sharkey retired from show business and moved into the business side of music, initially being employed by Polydor Records as A&R. Later he became the managing director of EXP Ltd.
In December 1998, he was appointed a member of the Radio Authority, remaining in this position till December 2003. In 2004, he became chairman of the 'Live Music Forum', where his job was to evaluate the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on the performance of live music.
In January 2008, he was appointed the Chairman of British Music Rights. In October, he moved to UK Music as its CEO, retiring from there on 11 November 2011.
Sharkey is best known for his 1985 solo single, ‘A Good Heart’. Written by Maria McKee, it peaked at No 1 on the UK Single Chart, remaining there for two weeks.
Awards & Achievements
In 2019, Sharkey was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
For his contribution in the field of music, he has also received various other awards including the Scott Piering Award in 2004 and the Bottle Award in 2006.
In 2008, he was awarded Honorary Doctor of Arts by the University of Hertfordshire.
Family & Personal Life
Little is known about his personal life except that his wife’s name is Elizabeth Sharkey and they have at least one son, who was born possibly in 1982.
When The Undertones regrouped in 1999, Sharkey turned down the offer to rejoin.