Have I Got Rock 'n' Roll News for You

Stuart Clark looks back at the music stories that made the headlines in 2004.


Louis Walsh denies reports that Samantha Mumba has been dropped by her UK record company.

“Sam’s still with Polydor in the UK but has changed labels in America,” he maintains. “She had been with Interscope but we weren’t happy with them. She’s currently recording her new album.”

It appears that Mumba has more or less scrapped an earlier collection of material, Woman, which was meant to surface in April 2003 but then disappeared from the release schedules amidst reports that Interscope weren’t impressed with what they’d heard.

Also hoping to revive his career is Samantha’s 14-year-old brother, Omero, who’s collaborating with various members of So Solid Crew on a rap album.

The Frames sign a worldwide deal for most of the world with Anti, the leftfield wing of hardcore label Epitaph which is also home to Tricky, The Black Keys, Daniel Lanois and Tom Waits.

The territories not covered by the pact are Ireland, Australia and New Zealand where the band remain on their own Plateau label.

Getting straight down to business, Glen and the boys join Damien Rice in March for a 19-date American tour.

“The Frames and Radiohead are probably my two favourite live rock bands in the world,” Rice enthuses.

Hotpress.com picks up the ‘Best Interactive Magazine’ gong at the 2003 PPA (Periodical Publishers’ Association) Awards • David Bowie and The Darkness are both being mooted for headline slots at Witnness • The Thrills underline the wonders of modern technology by making a new live EP available through iTunes just 48 hours after it was recorded at a KFOG Radio-sponsored bash in San Francisco • In what may very well be an Irish first, Pierce Turner is planning a nationwide tour of fan’s houses.


Veteran Irish composer Brendan Graham is celebrating one of the biggest successes of his already hit-laden career.

A two times winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, Graham’s lyrics feature on ‘You Raise Me Up’, one of the stand-outs from Josh Groban’s Closer album which is number one this week in America, selling two million copies in the process.

Groban is performing the song at Superbowl XXXVIII as a tribute to the seven astronauts who died last year when the Columbia Space Shuttle exploded.

The tenor is obviously regarded as being more palatable than Bono whose offer to premier a new AIDS awareness song during the half-time interval is rebuffed by the National Football League.

‘An American Prayer’ was co-written by Jennifer Lopez who’d also made herself available for the February 1 final in Houston.

Explaining their decision, an NFL spokesman says: “We simply decided that we were going to deliver, as we do annually, an extremely entertaining half-time show. We don’t believe it’s appropriate to focus on a single issue.”

The Pixies are coming to Ireland but not, as first thought, for Witnness.

The Americans have opted instead for “special guest” status on June 12 when the Red Hot Chili Peppers headline the Phoenix Park.

Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering play their first gig in over 10 years in May when they headline one of the days at the Coachella festival in California.

Dervish follow in W.B. Yeats, Ray McSharry, Westlife and Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s footsteps and receive Sligo’s highest civic honour, the Freedom of the Borough • Heineken confirm that they’ve ended their sponsorship of the Rollercoaster tour • The Enigma superclub in Carrickmacross closes •?Ash reveal that the eagerly awaited follow-up to Free All Angels will be called Meltdown. Why? “‘Cause it’s a full-on rock monster,” explains Tim Wheeler, “a real face-melter” • It’s a landmark month for Snow Patrol with their ‘Run’ single entering the UK chart at number 5 and a re-released version of its parent album, Final Straw, expected to follow in its footsteps.


hotpress exclusively reveals that Madonna will be this year’s Slane headliner. It’s the only outdoor show on her 2004 re-Invention world tour.

“Madonna has already started rehearsals and can’t wait to get back on stage to recreate her songs from the earliest days of her career up to the present,” reveals manager Caresse Henry. “There’s no doubt that this tour will be the pinnacle of her long standing and well deserved reputation as one of the most exciting live performers of our time.”

Alanis Morissette, Bob Geldof, The Chieftains, Dolores O’Riordan, The Divine Comedy, Katie Melua, Kila and Maire Brennan are among the first batch of acts to be confirmed for A Beautiful Night, a free cross-border musical spectacular taking place on Saturday May 1.

Co-promoted by BBC Northern Ireland and RTE, two shows will take place simultaneously outside Belfast City Hall and, subject to licence, Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

John Sheehan, regarded by many as the father figure of the Irish record industry, announces his retirement as MD of Sony Ireland • Snow Patrol’s Final Straw goes gold in the UK • Paddy Casey is the inspiration behind a modern ballet, Strings, which Chrysalis Dance are premiering in Galway • Setanta Records head honcho Keith Cullen confirms that his MCD counterpart Denis Desmond has acquired a stake in the London independent. “I’ve sold a minority share to Denis,” he says. “I’m happy that he’s bought in – he’s a silent partner” • A Bob Geldof tip-off results in British police raiding the house of a man who’s been selling a pirate Live Aid DVD for £110stg • Shelbourne FC chairman Ollie Byrne issues a “come and get us” plea to promoters who are interested in using their Tolka Park ground in Dublin for gigs.


The Irish government pulls the plug on the Dublin leg of A Beautiful Night by refusing to close O’Connell Street for five days to accommodate the concert.

“Once again we’re left looking like complete idiots down here,” says a source close to one of the acts on the Dublin bill. “I can’t believe that there weren’t consultations between the A Beautiful Night organisers and Dublin Corporation before the O’Connell Street gig was announced.”

Two former members of Shane MacGowan’s band The Popes lend their support to the campaign for Joey Cashman to step down as his manager.

“The set-up at the moment under Joey Cashman is the most unprofessional since Spinal Tap,” Popes founder member Danny Heatley tells hotpress. “His dad, Maurice, is 100% correct when he says that Shane’s career is being strangled by Joey and that he deserves better.”

Controversially, Heatley suggests that Shane is no longer pro-active, partly because his manager wants it that way.

“When Joey Cashman’s in town with Shane, he even sleeps in the same room as him. He answers the phone and nobody who’s trying to help Shane can get to him,” he alleges.


Bono is condemned again for uttering the f-word during the 2003 Golden Globe Awards.

“If you use expletives in your everyday speech, sometimes they will come out. I didn’t mean to offend anyone,” the singer reflected after saying on live TV that receiving a gong for ‘The Hands That Built America’ was “really, really fucking brilliant.”

The matter appeared to be closed when the US broadcasting regulatory authority, the FCC, ruled that it “did not describe sexual or excretory organs or activities.”

The decision wasn’t unanimous, though, with FCC President, Michael Powell, now looking to reverse it.

“I personally believe that this growing coarseness is abhorrent and irresponsible,” argues Powell who wants obscenity fines for broadcasters hiked to $275,000.

Meanwhile, two Republican congressmen want to make the use of “shit”, “piss”, “fuck”, “cunt”, “cocksucker”, “motherfucker” and “asshole” illegal on free to air channels.

Ash can’t help blabbing to hotpress that George Lucas has invited them to Skywalker Ranch in California.

“We’re not really supposed to talk about it,” Tim says, “but we got contacted by the head of Lucasarts in the UK. She knew we were massive Star Wars fans, and she hooked it all up. I think it could be a computer game he’s making, or it may be some soundtrack work. They’ve got Ewok Lake there, so we’re gonna throw stones in it!

“The first time we made it onto George’s radar was probably when Ewan McGregor, who we’d met a few times, asked us to play at the Phantom Menace wrap party,” Wheeler continues. “I looked up while we were doing a cover of ‘Cantina Band’ and there him and Kenny Baker were. I don’t know how the fuck I kept playing!”

The Thrills’ excitement at being co-opted onto the same Lollapalooza bill as Morrissey and The Flaming Lips is short-lived, with Perry Farrell pulling the tour due to poor ticket sales •?Shane MacGowan suffers cuts and a fractured cheekbone when he’s attacked with a metal bar in the toilets of a London pub • Pat Creed is appointed General Manager at Warner Music Ireland • The Cure are the latest high profile additions to the Oxegen bill • Damien Rice goes primetime with appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Jonathan Ross Show.


Plans to stage Madonna’s Slane Castle show on a Sunday fall foul of the local parish priest.

“The Lord’s Day for a lot of people round this part of the world is Sunday and it seems a bit inconsiderate and insensitive that our religious beliefs are not being taken into account,” complains Father Joe Deegan.

The wrangle is immediately picked up on by the world’s media with ‘Madonna To Crash The Lord’s Day’ (Arizona Republic); ‘Madonna Concert Draws Irish Ire’ (Times Of India); and Madonna Upsets Catholics (The Malaysia Star) typical of the headlines generated.

Radio Ulster’s Across The Line spawns its own TV spin-off • Rory Gallagher’s Live At The Rockpalast hits the number one spot in the German Music DVD chart • Therapy? revert to a trio after parting company with cellist and guitarist Martin McCarrick • Dublin punk legends The Radiators From Space reform with founder members Philip Chevron, Pete Holidai and Steve Rapid joined by former Pogues singer Cait O Riordan and John Bonnie • Christy Moore and Damien Rice are confirmed for the When Bush Comes To Shove anti-war gig in The Point • David Kitt’s manager says they’re “very unhappy” with Warner UK’s promotion of his Square One album, and hints that there may be a parting of the ways.

Sharon Shannon says she wants to “get on with my life and music” after her conviction for drink-driving is overturned by Galway District Court.

Controversially, and many felt unfairly, Shannon was branded a liar and banned for two years at her original hearing in February when a judge controversially refused to accept that somebody else had been driving her car three years ago when it crashed into a parked vehicle.

The Counsel for the State admitted last week, though, that the summons issued to her was out of date by one day and thus invalid.


DMX has to reschedule his shows at the Dublin Ambassador after being arrested two-days beforehand at New York’s Kennedy Airport.

Reports the New York Daily News: “The 33-year-old rap star told authorities he was late for a flight and was trying to park his 1998 black Ford Expedition when another driver got in his way.

“DMX allegedly flipped on his unauthorised flashing lights and siren and chased the man, Sergey Priporin, crashing through a toll gate in the process. Cops arrived to find DMX trying to pull Priporin out of the car.”

According to Queens Assistant Attorney General Corrine Henderson, DMX was so high on something “his pants had fallen down around his ankles and he didn’t even notice. He told the arresting officers, ‘I make moves. I make people disappear. Take these cuffs off me and we can go at it.’”

After being detoxed and treated for breathing problems at a nearby hospital, DMX was charged with menacing, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a weapon and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

There are five applications for the alternative rock music licence for Dublin.

Former pirate Phantom FM are among the hopefuls, joined in their bid by U2 manager Paul McGuinness, Denis Desmond of MCD, Brian Molloy, his son Graham Molloy and the owner of Whelan’s and The Village, Frank Gleeson

Also in with a shout are XFM – effectively Capital Radio – from London who are partnered by UTV; Raw; Radio Eleven; and the consortium featuring former FM104 man Dermot Hanrahan, Bob Geldof, promoters Jim and Peter Aiken, McGuinness Whelan Publishing MD Barbara Galavan, Angela Dorgan of the Federation of Music Collectives and hotpress, Zed FM.

Turn part company with bassist Alan Lee citing –?you’ve gussed it – “musical differences” •?The Tycho Brahe change their name to Tychonaut and sign a UK deal with Rubyworks subsidiary 38 Records • 25-year-old Dubliner DP Fitzgerald beats off competition from over 1,000 other hopefuls to become the new ‘Face of MTV Hits’ • Stradbally Hall in County Laois is confirmed as the venue for Ireland’s first boutique festival, The Electric Picnic • A heart scare forces David Bowie to pull out of Oxegen • RTE refuse to accept adverts for the When Bush Comes To Shove protest gig deeming them to be “political”.


French police interview 20 people, including hairdressers and make-up artists, after a rough mix of U2’s new album goes missing during a band photo shoot in Nice.

The missing disc belonged to The Edge who reflects on the band’s website: “A large slice of two years’ work lifted via a piece of round plastic. It doesn’t seem credible but that’s what’s just happened…and it was my CD.”

The gendarme in charge of the investigation, Guy Sapata, reveals that a number of avenues are being explored: “It could have been theft by a fan who simply likes the music or by someone who wants to exploit the CD by putting it on the internet. The CD may also have simply been lost.”

The definitive Horslips line-up have been recording together for the first time since 1979. The historic sessions featuring Johnny Fean, Eamonn Carr, Charles O’Connor, Barry Devlin and Jim Lockhart took place in Westmeath’s Grouse Lodge studio, which has also been home recently to Hope Of The States, Muse and the Manic Street Preachers.

“You could sense the nervousness in the room,” reports an eye-witness, “but 10, 15 seconds in, it was obvious the old chemistry was there. It’s basically the old songs pared down and played on acoustic guitar, which when you’ve got someone of Johnny Fean’s ability means they still sound extremely powerful.”

The band have also been working on a documentary, The Return Of The Dancehall Sweethearts, which will screen on RTE in early 2005.

Snow Patrol are third favourites at 6/1 to win the 2004 Mercury Music Prize with Final Straw • Veteran EMI Ireland talent-spotter Thomas Black leaves to set up his own A&R and management consultancy service • Charlotte Hatherley reveals all about Tim Wheeler’s extracurricular activities. “There’s an idea floating around,” she says, “that he’s going to team up with Justin Hawkins and Har Mar Superstar” • Damien Rice’s O album is joined in the top 10 by his B-Sides rarities album • Mullingar four-piece The Blizzards hook-up with Oasis manager Marcus Russell.


As Burn The Maps takes up residence at the top of the Irish chart, The Frames reveal that the follow-up could see the light of day as early as next year.

“There are soooo many new songs flying around at the moment,” enthuses manager Claire Leadbitter.

A concurring Glen Hansard adds: “Our next record will be very much song-written. I can think of three songs off the top of my head that are very much in the tradition of proper, folky songs. As happy as we are with Burn The Maps, I’m already focused completely on our next record. It’ll be recorded fast. And it’ll be put out fast.”

16-year-old Dubliner Laura Isibor signs a worldwide record/publishing deal with Jive Records and Zomba Music Publishing.

Says Jive’s American-based supremo Steve Lunt: “Within 48 hours of hearing Laura’s four-song demo, I was on a plane to Dublin. I had to see for myself exactly who owned this incredible voice and who wrote these melodically soulful songs. Laura sat down at the piano and blew me away – she sings with the feel of an old school soul singer from the ‘60s.”

Wasting no time, Isibor is in New York working on her debut album with Maxwell and Sade twiddler Stuart Matthewman producing.

There’s no doubting Jive/Zomba’s ability to break acts with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Eamon, R. Kelly, Mobb Depp and new US sensation Petey Pablo all on their roster.

Bono, Larry Mullen, Liam Neeson, Charlie Sheen, Brian O’Driscoll, Pauline McGlynn, Joan Rivers, Jim Sheridan, Melanie B and Brian McFadden are just a handful of the high profile people appearing in a filmed birthday tribute to Oscar Wilde • Athlone guitar merchants Bunny drop their ‘rabbit smoking a cigar’ logo after the Playboy corporation threaten to sue them for breach of copyright • Having been dropped by Warners, David Kitt releases The Black And Red Notebook on his own Dublin Records label.


Rory Gallagher fans are outraged when it emerges that plans for a memorial to the legendary bluesman in Temple Bar are being opposed by the National Photographic Archive who feel it would “adversely impact” on their identity.

Comprising of a bronze replica of his trademark Fender Stratocaster, the memorial was initiated by the Music Maker equipment retailer and supported by Fender to coincide with their 50th anniversary.

“Fender has indicated that they would pay for this but we made it absolutely clear in the proposal that there’d be no mention of musical retailers or anything,” project co-ordinator Mark Walsh stresses. “The only detail on the guitar would be the Fender logo, which is on every guitar and would be nearly illegible from street level, 15 feet below.”

Walsh accuses the Photographic Archive of “snobbery” and demonstrating “a lack of understanding that popular music is embedded into Irish culture.”

The Pogues announce they’re reforming for a Christmas tour • Ash are planning a UK and Ireland-only acoustic album to keep fans amused while they spend the majority of 2005 touring the States • Sources close to the band say U2 playing Croke Park next year is “more or less a done deal” • Sinéad O’Connor publicly appeals for the press to stop mocking her. “If ye all think I’m such a crazy person why do ye use me to sell your papers?” she ponders. “I want to be left alone to sing and work and try to do some good in this world”

Mean Fiddler boss Vince Power sells his remaining £12 million stake in the company he founded in 1981.

The move follows the Mean Fiddler’s £5.7m acquisition of Media Internet Telecom from Richard Clingen, a Monaco-based music download expert who’s taking over as Fiddler chairman.

“It’s a sad day but I’m not really a public company person,” Power says referring to the Fiddler’s stock-market flotation in 2000. “We did it, and it’s been great for the company, but I’ve always been an individual entrepreneur.”

It’ll be interesting to see how his departure impacts on Denis Desmond and MCD who bought a 24% stake in the Fiddler organisation earlier in the year.


In one of the year’s biggest marketing coups, Apple Computer Inc sign a deal with U2 which sees the band putting their name to a customised iPod.

“U2 are one of the greatest bands in the world,” comments Apple CEO Steve Jobs, “and we’re floored to be working with them. We just want to make some innovative products together and we hope U2 fans will love having their very own special edition iPOD.”

As part of the pact, a 429-track retrospective, The Complete U2, is being made available for download through iTunes for $149.

The Undertones lead the tributes to John Peel who dies while on a working holiday in Peru. He was 65.

“The thing you instantly got from him was the warmth of feeling he had for everyone around him,” John O’Neill reflects. “He had this knack of making you feel at ease and forgetting that he was this incredible legend –?he became more like your favourite uncle or drinking buddy instead of the most important and influential DJ of recent rock ‘n’ roll times. The fact that ‘Teenage Kicks’ will forever be linked to John Peel is about as great an accolade as any of us could ever hope for.”

A 150-strong panel of musicians deigns Astral Weeks by Van Morrison to be hotpress’ Greatest Irish Album of all time • Grouse Lodge Studios in Westmeath wins this year’s Irish Enterprise Awards • Ronan Keating and Cat Stevens are installed as 6/1 favourites to top the Christmas singles chart with their update of ‘Father & Son’ • In a remarkable u-turn, Vince Power says he won’t as previously announced be relinquishing control of the Mean Fiddler organisation • Having won the Dublin alternative rock radio licence, Phantom FM say they plan to be on-air by June 2005


Bono confirms that they’re eyeing Snow Patrol up for their 2005 world tour. “We’d love to take them out on the road,” he confirms. “There’s some beautiful singing and songs and Jacknife Lee made as brilliant a job of their record as he did ours.”

It’s by no means a done deal, though, with Snow Patroller Mark McClelland telling hotpress: “We’ve heard this but no one’s actually asked us yet. It depends on when and where they offer. We couldn’t do three months straight in the States, but if it was Europe or something shorter like that, brilliant.”

Also checking their diaries are The Thrills who have to chose between supporting REM and U2 and going on a long overdue holiday.

“There are a few offers coming in that will be hard to turn down,” says singer Conor Deasy, “but we’re going to try and take a break then because I think we need to.”

The Undertones rule out the re-release of ‘Teenage Kicks’ as a tribute to John Peel. “It would be totally inappropriate and is not something the band would even consider,” is the word from manager Andy Ferguson • Foo Fighters are unveiled as one of the headline acts at Oxegen 2005 • Neil Hannon declares 2005 to be “The Year of Other Stuff. I want to see more of my daughter, work with other people and do a covers album” • REM confirm a June 2005 visit to Dublin’s Ardgillan Castle.


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