Step up to the stage Jim Cunningham and take a long-overdue bow.
For in the 1980s and 1990s, when the rest of us were busy pogo-ing, headbanging and otherwise leaping not very rhythmically to the sounds of a phenomenal generation of rock and punk bands, Cunningham was archiving it all for posterity.
And, now, he has posted hundreds of photographs of bands, audiences and assorted nights out onto his Facebook page. And what a story they tell about the turn-of-the century city!
Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, Derry was a buzzing place. While we mightn’t have had the first-class facilities we do today, the city was still a vibrant musical metropolis. And now we have the photos to prove it.
Among the great music acts featured are: The Undertones, Rare, The Moondogs, A Cast of Thousands, The Carrellines, Tie the Boy, Schtum, Graffiti, The Rip Offs, The Turtle Assassins, Cuckoo, the Stray Toasters, Middle Earth, the Little Hooks, Children’s Hour, Gradapenda Rosindale, Kitsch is Rich, Shark Adams, The Bitch Vipers, Le Call, Biddy Bo, The Wilko Johnston Band and Different Drums.
There’s even a special fifteen-photo spread of legendary anarcho-punks Dick Tracy and the Green Disaster, with former Journal reporter, the late, great Domhnall MacDermott, centre stage in his immaculate white tux. If only his singing had been as immaculate...
And, bringing it all right up to date, there’s also a selection of more modern bands such as Girls News, Lesbians from the Left and Mars Field performing upstairs in Sandino’s.
While the archive focuses largely on what might have been termed the ‘Gweedore crowd’, a whole host of venues are featured including The Venue (natch), Brooke Park, The Embassy, The Union Hall, The Gasyard and The Stardust.
If you look closely at the many crowd shots, you can pick out luminaries such as Roma Downey, Jackie Hamilton and Caron Keating at the Railway Tavern; John O’Neill enjoying a night off upstairs in The Gweedore; and punk god Mickey Griffiths, without whom no party, anywhere, was complete.
Many others pictured with spiked hair, pierced noses and very dodgy clothing, are now balding middle-aged civil servants, teachers and nurses. A select few will be attempting to explain to their children (and, in some cases, grandchildren) what they were doing with that funny looking cigarette in their hand or what they were drinking up on the Walls.
And an unfortunate band of Union Hall revellers will be trying to remember what in the hell possessed them to trade handbags in a ten-second thirty-man scrap that Jim Cunningham just happened to capture for all time.
The collection – which Jim has generously left open to all Facebook viewers – now prompts two questions: one, when are we going to have a reunion of all these great bands? And, two, when is Jim going to produce a book of these wonderful pictures for those of us who don’t want to have to switch on computers every time we want to have a walk down memory lane?