Pictured in 2009
|Birth name||Seán Feargal Sharkey|
13 August 1958 |
Derry, Northern Ireland
|Genres||Punk rock, pop punk, pop|
|Occupation(s)||Musician, A&R manager; music industry executive|
|Years active||1976–1991 (as an active performer)
1992–present (within musical management)
A&M Records (U.S.)
|Associated acts||The Undertones, The Assembly|
Seán Feargal Sharkey (born 13 August 1958) is a Northern Irish singer most widely known as the lead vocalist of pop punk band The Undertones in the 1980s, and also for solo works in the 1990s. After becoming less musically active in the early 1990s, he has performed various roles supporting the UK's commercial music industry, winning several awards and honours for his work in that area.
The Undertones (1976–83)
Sharkey, who was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, joined The Undertones shortly after their formation in 1975. In the 1970s they played in many locations throughout Northern Ireland, including the Flamingo Ballroom in Ballymena and Chester's in Portrush.
The Undertones had several UK hits with songs such as "Teenage Kicks", "Here Comes The Summer", "My Perfect Cousin", "Wednesday Week" and "It's Going To Happen". The band split in 1983 citing musical differences, with Sharkey pursuing a solo career and other members of the band forming That Petrol Emotion the following year.
Before his solo career took off, he was also the singer of the one-shot group The Assembly with ex-Yazoo and Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke (pre-Erasure). In 1983 their single "Never Never" was a UK No. 4 hit.
Solo career (1984–91)
Sharkey's debut single was a collaboration with Madness member Cathal Smyth titled "Listen to Your Father". The single was released on Madness's label Zarjazz Records in 1984, reaching No. 23 in the UK chart. The track was performed on Top of the Pops with members of Madness.
Sharkey's solo work was significantly different from the post-punk offerings of The Undertones. His best-known solo material is the 1985 UK chart-topping single penned by Maria McKee, "A Good Heart", which went to No. 1 in several countries including the UK in late 1985. He also had a UK Top 5 hit in 1986 with "You Little Thief". This song had a link with "A Good Heart": "You Little Thief" was written by Benmont Tench, a member of Tom Petty's band, about his relationship with McKee in response to her writing "A Good Heart" about him. His eponymous debut album reached No. 12 in the UK Albums Chart.
Music industry (1992–present)
Starting in the early 1990s Sharkey moved into the business side of the music industry, initially as A&R 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.
When the Undertones reunited in 1999, Sharkey was offered the opportunity to rejoin the group but turned it down and his position as lead vocalist/frontman for the Undertones was subsequently taken by fellow Derry native, Paul McLoone who is also a DJ for the Irish national radio station, Today FM.
Sharkey became chairman of the UK Government task force the 'Live Music Forum' in 2004, to evaluate the impact of the Licensing Act 2003 on the performance of live music, and gave public evidence before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on 11 November 2008.
In 2008, Sharkey was appointed as the CEO of British Music Rights, replacing Emma Pike. In October 2008, he became head of UK Music, an umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK's commercial music industry. He has become prominent in criticising the use of Form 696 by the Metropolitan Police' requiring event promoters to provide data on performers and audiences. Sharkey resigned from UK Music on 11 November 2011.
Sharkey appeared on BBC Newcastle, interviewed by Simon Logan on the afternoon show on 7 August 2013. He spoke about his career and his decision to resign from the stage: "I've had an absolutely brilliant career... It's time to get off the stage and make room for [new artists]".
Awards and honours
In 2004, Sharkey was awarded the "Scott Piering Award", by the radio industry for "recognising achievement in the promotion of music and the understanding of the music industry to their colleagues in radio". He is the only member of the Radio Authority to have been honoured in this way by the radio industry.
In 2006 he got the "Bottle Award", at the International Live Music Conference for "outstanding contribution to the live music industry".
In 2009 he entered The Guardian's MediaGuardian 100, described as the "MediaGuardian's annual guide to the most powerful people in television, radio, newspapers, magazines, digital media, media business, advertising, marketing and PR", at number 56.
In 2010 he appeared in Wired's The Wired 100, "Who are the people who shape the Wired world," at number 45. The same year he received a Doctor of Letters honoris causa from the University of Ulster in recognition of his services to music.
- 1984 "Listen to Your Father" UK No. 23
- 1985 "Loving You" UK No. 26, Switzerland No. 23, Australia No. 97
- 1985 "A Good Heart" UK No. 1 (2 weeks), Australia No. 1 (1 week), Austria No. 13, Canada No. 4, The Netherlands No. 1, Norway No. 6, South Africa No. 3,  Switzerland No. 3, US #74,.
- 1986 "You Little Thief" UK No. 5, Australia No. 4, Switzerland No. 27
- 1986 "Someone to Somebody" UK No. 64, Australia No. 64
- 1986 "It's All Over Now" Australia only
- 1988 "More Love" UK No. 44, Australia No. 61
- 1988 "Out of My System"
- 1988 "If This is Love" Promo only
- 1991 "Cry Like a Rainy Day" Promo only
- 1991 "I've Got News for You" UK #12
- 1991 "Women & I"
- 1991 "To Miss Someone"
- Undertones biography – Yahoo! Music
- "Where I live – Berkshire". BBC. 1 December 2005.
- "Parliament.uk". Parliament.uk. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "BMR appoints Feargal Sharkey and Andy Heath". British Copyright Council. United Kingdom: British Copyright Council. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
- "UK Music Staff".
- Paine, Andrew (11 November 2008). "Sharkey Warns MPs On Policing Of Concert Licensing". Billboard. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
- "Feargal Sharkey stands down as chief of UK Music". The Guardian. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
- "Honours". The Radio Academy. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Ilmc.com". Ilmc.com. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Ashton, Robert (20 November 2008). "Musicweek.com". Musicweek.com. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "Feargal Sharkey". The Guardian (London). 13 July 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
- "Wired.co.uk". Wired.co.uk. 19 July 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "University Of Ulster News Release – Honorary Degree for Music Innovator Feargal Sharkey". News.ulster.ac.uk. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 494. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- http://rock.co.za/files/springbok_top_20_(S).html Retrieved 7 April 2014