Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Story of Terri Hooley, Belfast's godfather of punk, to hit silver screen

Terri Hooley
Terri Hooley

A film about the life and times of Belfast's legendary punk 'bad boy' Terri Hooley goes into production next month, courtesy of executive producer, Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody, and producer David Holmes.

The movie, which tells the story of Hooley's times as manager of The Undertones, has recruited Steve Coogan and Killing Bono's Robert Sheehan to star, with Belfast actor Richard Dormer - who won critical acclaim for his role as Alex Higgins in the stage play Hurricane - in the lead role.

The movie's title, Good Vibrations, is based on the name of Hooley's boundary-crossing recording label and record shop which he opened in Belfast during the Troubles.

Hooley made his name as the band manager who sent a copy of the Undertones' Teenage Kicks to the late, and pioneering, radio DJ John Peel and it led to the band, with lead singer Feargal Sharkey, finding international fame.

Hooley released the single on his own home-grown label and Peel played it relentlessly, ensuring its place in punk's hall of fame and leading to the band securing a record deal in 1978.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Terri said: "I can't believe it... it's been 10 years coming. About a decade ago I dropped in for a quick pint to the Crown Bar and I bumped into [novelist] Glenn Patterson and two producers from RTE and we had a couple.

"Two days later Glenn came back to me and said, 'Your life story would make a great movie'.''

Patterson has co-written the script with Colin Carberry.

The 10-year wait was, in part, due to Hooley and Patterson turning down two Dublin-based film companies - one involving Kathy McGuinness, wife of U2 manager Paul McGuinness - because they did not like how they were interpreting the script, and, in another attempt at production, funding from the British Film Board was axed in government cutbacks.

Channel 4 were also interested but talks came to a dead end over creative control.

The film is now being financed by BBC Films in association with the Irish Film Board.

The 'Godfather of Punk' was the subject of a Facebook campaign last year to get him elected as Lord Mayor of Belfast after MLA Naomi Long stepped down.

According to Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Hooley is "a life lived at light speed''.

"Terri is the godfather of Northern Ireland punk,'' says Lightbody. "He lived a crazy life, a really dark, hilarious life.

"I'm really pleased it's not a pipe dream any more. Terri's an unsung hero and he has never sold out.

"Even when the Undertones were signed by Seymour Stein for £60,000 - a sh**load of money in those days - Terri wouldn't take any cash and settled in the end for a rubbish £500 van.''

Writing for the Belfast Telegraph Saturday Review last year about the death of The Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious, Hooley recalled the time he punched John Lennon in the face during an argument over the political situation in Northern Ireland.

Hooley's original Good Vibrations shop was burnt down some years ago, but he re-opened and today can still be found selling CDs and old vinyl in Belfast's Smithfield Market.

He received an Irish Music Industry Award in 1994.

Part of the movie will be shot on location in Dundalk, Co Louth, because, as Terri says jokingly, Belfast "looks too good now to be representative of how it looked back in the days of the punk movement which was at the height of the Troubles''.

The Undertones formed in Derry in 1975, releasing 13 singles and four albums, and have gone down as one of the seminal influences of the punk movement.

Their eponymous debut album was voted by Q magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Teenage Kicks was released again in May 1994 but only marginally managed to break into the UK charts. It is still, though, a constant player on radio stations throughout the UK and Ireland.

The original line-up disbanded in 1983 after Sharkey left to pursue a solo career and went on to score a massive hit with A Good Heart (Is Hard To Find).

The remaining four members reformed in 1999 with Paul McLoone as lead singer and still perform today, having released two albums of original material.

Today, Sharkey works as a music consultant for a number of leading UK agencies.

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