Snow Patrol front man Gary Lightbody was in Derry this afternoon to receive an Honorary Degree Of Letters (DLitt) from the University of Ulster (UU) for services to the music industry.
The rocker has sold millions of records across the world and his track ‘Chasing Cars’ was named ‘Song of the Decade’ but all that was in the background as he made an emotional return to the city at the invite of UU.
The Snow Patrol founder and lead singer is a native of Bangor, County Down but he has family connections with Derry and the band’s chart hit ‘Just Say Yes’ was used as the campaign theme tune for the city’s successful bid to become UK City of Culture 2013.
“It’s a while since I’ve been in this neck of the woods. I spent many a Christmas up here,” he told the ‘Derry Journal’ when we caught up with him ahead of the degree ceremony at the Millennium Forum on Tuesday afternoon.
“My nanny was from Fountain Street and my father from Rosemount so there are lots of fond memories from here I can assure you.”
The honorary degree from the local university “meant the world to my mammy and daddy,” the 36-year-old music star said.
“They are very proud, particularly as my mammy lived less than 100 yards away from The Forum, where the award is being made,” he explained.
Having first lifted the guitar to AC/DC Lightbody admits: “It never took. It didn’t happen instantly so I put it away again.”
That was until the release of Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’. “It all changed then,” he recalled.
“That band are still in my heart,” said Lightbody.
Lightbody was also the star attraction at Monday evening’s annual graduation ball in the Great Hall at Magee.
Read the full interview with Gary Lightbody in Friday’s edition of the Derry Journal.