‘Don’t Ignore Me!’ ‘Lost’ recordings of Aidan McCarthy of Cork’s first punk band Berserk have surfaced and are now ‘premiered’ exclusively here on the Sir Henry’s Exhibition page. Paul O’Mahony sets the scene.
Such has been the reaction to a piece in my Sir Henrys Blog a few weeks ago in which I referenced Aidan McCarthy, a founder member of Cork’s first punk band Berserk who was killed in a car crash with his wife Linda in 1981, that I went rummaging in some storage boxes in search of an old cassette demo of his that I knew I had put away. Somewhere…
As a fellow member of Berserk, I know we’d never recorded a demo in the studio but I remembered that Aidan did a recording of some of the tunes in our set list, after the band broke up, with guitarist Martin Kelleher under the name Romeo Butcher.
Well, I’ve found them, MP3’d them, SoundClouded them, and here they are to be heard for the first time in 33 years!
And I talked with Amy, his daughter who is now 32, the first time I have done so since my previous sighting of her in a pram so many moons ago and prior to the accident. I received her blessing to unveil the tracks – and she, too, will also be hearing them here for the first time. Which is pretty amazing. Her dad’s songs, her dad’s voice.
When I posted a piece about Aidan on Sir Henrys Exhibition Facebook page
I received some really nice feedback about Aidan (and Linda)
On the point I made about Aidan and Berserk having been mysteriously written out of the history of Cork alternative rock, Ricky Dineen of Nun Attax paid tribute: “I went to school with him. He was one of the main reasons I became involved in band things. A brilliant character and a very nice guy.”
Ricky also added: “I remember he came to a Nun Attax jam one time and played the drums. Absolutely brilliant he was! The chemistry between himself and Donnelly was something special.”
Furthermore, Tom Curtin, a Cork artist who worked on the original (and splendidly atmospheric) interiors for Sir Henry’s back in 1977, offered his perspective.
“In the first year or so the live acts (in Sir Henry’s) consisted of the more familiar local groups and acoustic artists, but as Sir Henry’s became more established, the younger groups began to gain a foothold. The first group to break into the scene and herald the change was Aidan McCarthy and Berserk in 1978. Aidan epitomised the new sense of rebellion and social awareness of late ‘70’s music. He set the mark for the up-and-coming musicians in Cork. Aidan was angry, passionate, compassionate, intelligent, articulate, ambitious but sensitive, a great musician with an inbred sense of standards and a wicked sense of humour! In his non-comprising way, Aidan opened the doors and challenged the other aspiring groups in Cork to follow and in doing so prepared the way for the next transition of Sir Henry’s. Tragically, Aidan and his wife Linda died in a car accident in 1981 as they drove back to Cork late one night after a gig in Dublin. In many ways Linda reflected the ethos that had come to define Sir Henry’s. She had worked in the bar, knew many of the people who went there and would hang out there with her friends. Linda was a gentle, laid back kind of person with an unassuming sense of charm, but she was sure! It was a surprise to everyone when they got together considering how they seemed so opposite in temperament, but somehow it just seemed right. Their deaths had a deep effect on Sir Henry’s. The feelings of sadness and loss underlined the sense of community that had evolved around the place. It was in a way a coming of age, I think that for many it signalled the need to focus on other more important considerations. People gradually began to drift away; there were less and less familiar faces as their places were taken by a new generation bringing a new energy and a new sense of optimism.”
And so, without further ado, here are the tracks, seven in all, recorded in 1980 or 1981 with Aidan on lead vocals and drums, and Martin Kelleher on guitar. I couldn’t find any info on who might be on bass. As mentioned, most of these tunes were played live by Berserk initially.
- Don’t Ignore Me:
- I’m Only Human:
- Suzie’s Turning:
- I Got Fever: