Feargal Sharkey

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Feargal Sharkey
Sharkey in 2009
Sharkey in 2009
Background information
Birth nameSeán Feargal Sharkey
Born (1958-08-13) 13 August 1958 (age 64)
Derry, Northern Ireland
GenresPunk rock, new wave, pop punk, pop
Occupation(s)Musician, A&R manager; music industry executive
Instrument(s)Vocals, synthesizer, programming, percussion
Years active1976–1991 (as an active performer)
1992–present (within musical management)
LabelsVirgin Records
A&M Records (U.S.)
Zarjazz Records
Formerly ofThe Undertones, The Assembly

Seán Feargal Sharkey OBE (born 13 August 1958) is a singer from Northern Ireland most widely known as the lead vocalist of punk band The Undertones in the 1970s and 1980s, and for solo works in the 1980s and 1990s. His 1985 solo single "A Good Heart" was an international success. 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.

Sharkey is also a lifelong fly fisherman and has campaigned against the pollution of British rivers (particularly chalk streams), and is the Chairman of the Amwell Magna Fishery. He has become a figurehead for the campaign to prevent water companies dumping sewage into UK waterways and coasts.


The Undertones (1976–1983)[edit]

Sharkey, who was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, joined The Undertones shortly after their formation in 1975.[1] They 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.[2][3]

The Assembly (1983)[edit]

Before his solo career took off, Sharkey 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 No. 4 hit in the UK Singles Chart.

Solo career (1984–1991)[edit]

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.[4] 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 Lone Justice frontwoman 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". His eponymous debut album reached No. 12 in the UK Albums Chart.[4]

Following on from his second album Wish in 1988, he achieved further success in 1991 with his UK Top 30 album Songs From The Mardi Gras, which produced the No. 12 hit single "I've Got News for You".

Music industry (1992–present)[edit]

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 down the offer.[5] His position as lead vocalist/frontman for the Undertones was taken by fellow Derry native Paul McLoone, who is also a radio presenter for the Irish national and independent 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,[6] and gave public evidence before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee[7] on 11 November 2008.

In 2008, Sharkey was appointed as the CEO of British Music Rights, replacing Emma Pike.[8] In October 2008, he became head of UK Music,[9] 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.[10] Sharkey resigned from UK Music on 11 November 2011.[11]

In 2011 Sharkey made a one-off appearance in a set named Erasure + Special Guests singing Never Never. He stated that he had not sung live for 20 years and that Vince Clarke was the only person he would have returned for.[12]

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 retire 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[edit]

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.[13]

In 2006 he received the "Bottle Award" at the International Live Music Conference for "outstanding contribution to the live music industry".[14]

In 2008, Sharkey was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts, by the University of Hertfordshire in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of music.[15]

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.[16]

In 2010 he appeared in Wired's The Wired 100, "Who are the people who shape the Wired world," at number 45.[17] The same year he received a Doctor of Letters honoris causa from the University of Ulster in recognition of his services to music.[18]

Sharkey was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 Birthday Honours for services to music.[19]

Environmental campaigning[edit]

Sharkey is a lifelong fly fisherman and has campaigned against the pollution of British rivers (particularly chalk streams),[20] and the regulations of the water industry which impact British water resources.[21] He gave the keynote address at The Rivers Trust Autumn Conference 2018.[22]

On 30 August 2020, Sharkey appeared in episode 3 of the second series of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing to discuss the environmental pressures faced by Britain's chalk rivers, during a conversation by the River Lea.[23][24] He reappeared on episode 6 of the fifth series of Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing on 14 October 2022 and discussed pollution in English rivers including the Thames and Wye.[25] He is Chairman of the Amwell Magna Fishery.[26]

He has subsequently become a figurehead for the campaign to prevent water companies dumping untreated sewage into UK waterways and coasts, appearing on television news coverage and gathering a large following on twitter,[27] as well as supporting The Times campaign to "clean it up".[28]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details International Chart Peaks Certifications
Feargal Sharkey 12 7 17 13 29 6 16 11 75
  • Released: 1988
  • Label: Virgin Records
66 22
Songs from the Mardi Gras
  • Released: 1991
  • Label: Virgin Records
27 41
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title International Chart Peaks Certifications Album
1984 "Listen to Your Father" 23 22 non-album singles
1985 "Loving You" 26 97 23
"A Good Heart" 1 1 1 4 4 1 17 2 3 3 74 Feargal Sharkey
"You Little Thief" 5 4 9 30 3 10 38 27
1986 "Someone to Somebody" 64 64 30
"It's All Over Now"
1988 "More Love" 44 61 43 Wish
"Out of My System" 45
"If This Is Love"
1991 "I've Got News for You" 12 193 8 Songs from the Mardi Gras
"Women & I"
"To Miss Someone"
"—" denotes items that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

Promotional singles[edit]

  • "Cry Like a Rainy Day" (1991)


  1. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Teenage Kicks: My Life as an Undertone ISBN 978-1-78558-180-9 p. 214
  3. ^ Michael Bradley. "My Life As An Undertone : Part Four". Theundertones.com. Retrieved 16 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "Official Charts > Feargal Sharkey". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Feargal Sharkey: 'I will never sing on stage again' ". Telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 26 June 2013. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Where I live – Berkshire". BBC. 1 December 2005.
  7. ^ "Parliament.uk". Parliament.uk. 28 April 2010. Archived from the original on 27 February 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  8. ^ "BMR appoints Feargal Sharkey and Andy Heath". British Copyright Council. United Kingdom: British Copyright Council. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2008.
  9. ^ "UK Music Staff". Archived from the original on 29 January 2009.
  10. ^ Paine, Andrew (11 November 2008). "Sharkey Warns MPs on Policing of Concert Licensing". Billboard.biz. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
  11. ^ "Feargal Sharkey stands down as chief of UK Music". The Guardian. 11 November 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  12. ^ "ERASURE, YAZOO + THE ASSEMBLY Live at Short Circuit Presents Mute". Electricityclub.co.uk. 4 June 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  13. ^ "Honours". The Radio Academy. Archived from the original on 1 September 2015. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  14. ^ "Ilmc.com". Ilmc.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  15. ^ Ashton, Robert (20 November 2008). "Musicweek.com". Musicweek.com. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  16. ^ "Feargal Sharkey". The Guardian. London. 13 July 2009. Retrieved 2 May 2010.
  17. ^ "Wired.co.uk". Wired.co.uk. 19 July 2011. Archived from the original on 11 April 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  18. ^ "University of Ulster News Release – Honorary Degree for Music Innovator Feargal Sharkey". News.ulster.ac.uk. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  19. ^ "No. 62666". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 June 2019. p. B14.
  20. ^ Anthony, Andrew (1 December 2018). "Feargal Sharkey's mission to save our chalk streams". Theguardian.com. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Feargal Sharkey: 'The Cam is no longer a proper river'". Cambridge Independent. 26 November 2020. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  22. ^ "Feargal Sharkey demands immediate action to restore rivers back to sustainable flows during The Rivers Trust Autumn Conference 2018". The Rivers Trust. 22 November 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2020.
  23. ^ "Paul didn't get his 'Teenage Kicks'". bbc.co.uk.
  24. ^ Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing - Series 3: Episode 2, retrieved 7 November 2022
  25. ^ Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing - Series 5: Episode 6, retrieved 7 November 2022
  26. ^ "Here Comes The Summer: but are our waterways safe to be enjoyed recreationally?". UK Parliament. 19 April 2021. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  27. ^ Feargal Sharkey Twitter account
  28. ^ Sharkey, Feargal. "Feargal Sharkey: Why I'm backing The Times Clean It Up campaign". thetimes.co.uk.
  29. ^ a b Australian chart peaks:
  30. ^ "Canadian Albums". RPM Magazine. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  31. ^ "Sisältää hitin: Levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1961" (in Finnish). Sisältää Hitin - Suomen listalevyt (Timo Pennanen). Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  32. ^ a b German chart peaks:
  33. ^ a b "dutchcharts.nl > Feargal Sharkey in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  34. ^ a b "charts.nz > Feargal Sharkey in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  35. ^ "swedishcharts.com > Feargal Sharkey in Swedish Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  36. ^ a b "hitparade.ch > Feargal Sharkey in der Schweizer Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  37. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Feargal Sharkey > Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  38. ^ a b "BPI Certification". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on 27 October 2015. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  39. ^ a b "Canadian Certification". Music Canada. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  40. ^ "Belgian Singles". ultratop.be. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  41. ^ "Canadian Singles". RPM Magazine. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  42. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know > Search results for Feargal Sharkey (from irishcharts.ie)". Imgur.com (original source published by Fireball Media). Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  43. ^ "Italian Singles". hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 11 June 2016.
  44. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Feargal Sharkey > Chart History > The Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 6 May 2017.

External links[edit]