- 17 Apr 01
From Sting to Frank Zappa, Derek Bell has been literally instrumental in establishing The Chieftains as your average rock legend’s favourite group. Liam Fay hears the full story about his ice cream binges with Van Morrison and his special liking for rosewood oboes!
“There are no big dark secrets or scandals in this band,” says Derek Bell. “To be honest, I don’t think anyone would care even if there were.”
Bell, the Chieftains’ clown prince and the man who, some say, puts the ‘mental’ into multi-instrumentalist, is eating breakfast in the tranquil dining room of Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin’s city centre. A dogged creature of habit, he orders his customary fare of a single boiled egg, which he then devours with wanton relish. Two pots of strong tea are similarly dispatched while the slices of brown bread disappear from his side-plate like sods in a flood. “I’m a man of simple tastes but monstrous appetite,” he affirms, before dissolving into a torrent of giggles.
Okay, so anyone hoping to read tales involving Paddy Moloney & Co, a Jacuzzi filled with whipped cream and En Vogue en masse is going to be disappointed, yet again. Nevertheless, there is always something utterly compelling about The Chieftains. It’s not just the scale and scope of their phenomenal thirty-three year career which intrigues. Or the ease with which they engage, and are engaged by, some of the most celebrated collaborators in the showbusiness firmament.