- 10 Oct 08
Musicians Pat Clafferty, Amanda Claxton, Eoin Young, Darren Nolan and Fiachra McCarthy pay tribute to their friend and comrade-in-arms, the late Derrick Dalton.
I first encountered Derrick as he strode onstage with Hey Paulette circa 1989 in the Underground venue on Dame Street and strapped on his Rickenbacker guitar. His playing immediately grabbed my attention. Without question he was the finest pop guitarist I’d heard with the exception of Johnny Marr. We found that musically we had a lot in common. A year or so later myself and Jill Hahn were talking about putting together a band. We bumped into Derrick in McGonagles. We asked him if he knew a bass player. “I’ll do it,” was his quick reply.
We called ourselves Mexican Pets and within three weeks had written six songs and were taking to the Underground stage. The rest is, as they say, history.
Derrick’s talents as a musician are hard to overstate. His melodic instincts gave me great freedom as a singer. I told him that I sang along with his basslines (not the guitar) and he just smiled and shrugged. I swear, he was almost embarrassed. I was to witness his modesty on many occasions.
He was hugely admired by his peers. He was always willing to help out by lending a guitar, fixing a broken pedal, or telling you about a new band. As a songwriter, his standards were staggeringly high. Many would have been satisfied with material which Derrick discarded weekly!
Since I heard of his tragic death, I’ve thought a great deal about Derrick, the guy who was always in the crowd at everybody’s gigs, always wanting me to hear his latest stuff, always competitive with me, but ultimately always proud of our association. And, above all, always a softly-spoken gentleman with an infectious laugh.
I last met Derrick at my gig about a month ago. Afterwards, we chatted. I knew he liked my new songs but he didn’t let on. Then, just before I was leaving, he caught my arm and said, “That was good.” That’s how we were. I’ll miss you old friend.
I first met Derrick when I was 17 and singing in a band called The Skips. He was the guitarist with Hey Paulette.
We had no guitarist at the time and they had no drummer, so a fair swap was made and we traded Darren for Derrick!
It was an arrangement that worked very well for many years, as we played music together and became firm friends.
Derrick once told me that he would quite happily play guitar in his bedroom and didn't care if no-one ever heard his music, so long as he was happy with it.
That was Derrick to the core; it was just about the music.
I'm the better for having been his friend and he will be greatly missed.
Derrick and I talked about, danced to and played music for nearly 20 years. We were in the Deportees together in the early ‘90s and two years ago, we made a record as Villa R.
Derrick was an amazing musician, writer and producer and was happiest knee deep in the creative and technical challenges of a long recording session. He was firmly committed to both the sound and the ethic of the indie music scene.
Once during his Hey Paulette days, he told me: “People say that I am ripping off Johnny Marr. What they don’t realize is that its not Johnny Marr I’m ripping off, but Peter Buck”!
He was a true friend and I will miss him terribly. Our only consolation in the grief is that his low-key ways and love of all things that jangle remain with us in his music.
Here are my thoughts and words for a great friend.
I've known Derrick for 21 years and have played with him in Hey Paulette, The Skips, The Deportees, a Blondie tribute band, and most recently on his Aeromodller instrumental album.
I'm so lucky to have met him and to have played all this music together. Derrick has had a massive influence on my music and only recently put some amazing guitars to a song that we co-wrote.
He was the best jangly guitarist around and I will dearly dearly miss him.
Love to Laura, behind every good man there's a good woman.
Slan, and rest in peace.
I first met Derrick Dalton and his wife Laura in 2005. I was playing guitar with a band called House of Mexico. Derrick and Laura came up to tell us how much they enjoyed the gig. We were immediately wary; people came up to House of Mexico to tell us to turn our music down, people came up to House of Mexico to ask us to stop playing, people sometimes didn't come up at all, and just made the soundman pull the plug...
People didn't say they enjoyed the gig... something was up! But slowly that initial suspicion faded and it began to dawn on us that they were that most unusual thing: genuine, real Music Fans.
After I went to see Derrick’s band Crumb at a few gigs – including the last ever night in Mother Red Caps – Derrick asked me, in early 2006, to join as bass player.
I'm not even sure he knew if I owned a bass (I do, it is rusty and has three strings!) but it seemed surreal to me that a band made up of a former Mexican Pet and a member of the Sewing Room – both bands legends of independent Irish music – would ask some noisey scrap of a youngster on board.
Playing with Crumb was a lesson in classic power pop. With only three of us any bum notes or slipped plectrums were going to honk on out.
Driven by a crisp clean sound, reminiscent of the first handful of REM albums, The Go Betweens and Johnny Marr’s best moments, there was no 'Wall of Fuzz' to hide behind when you weren't sure what the next chord was – and with Derrick there were a lot of chords, some of them using lots of fingers!
Derrick would regularly lead us through some obscure cover versions, which as soon as we'd learned were matched with more obscure covers, to produce extraordinary medleys (pop odd ball epic McArthur Park with a segue into new wave smash Echo Beach anyone? It's still up on the Crumb MySpace if you don't believe me). His love of music was vast and genuine, a good tune was a good tune no matter how cool or uncool its origins may seem to others.
At the time of his passing he was working not only a new Crumb album, but also recording tracks for Richer Then Astronauts, continuing his collaboration with ex Would Be's singer Eileen Grogan on their Melba project, and had finally gotten around to pressing copies of his own project Aermodellor, an album of guitar instrumentals pitched between Hank Marvin, Johnny Marr and Durriti Column but with enough pop sensibility to be way more appealing then that might sound!
The gap Derrick leaves behind him is huge and effects many many people, and in terms of his music it seems to me the challenge to those he's left behind is to put as much hard work and genuine enthusiasm into the music as he would've. And in this way a part of him will be carried on in some amazing music to come.