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Belfast music hero Terri Hooley: I'm lucky to be alive

Punk legend tells of heart attack as benefit gig is planned

By Victoria O'Hara

Belfast's godfather of punk Terri Hooley has revealed he was told by doctors had he not been in hospital when he suffered a heart attack "he would not be here at all".

Speaking for the first time publicly on his 66th birthday about being hospitalised, Terri said he is now facing months in the ward until he has a heart bypass operation.

Terri, who has been in hospital for three weeks, said he had "no idea" that he had suffered a heart attack but added he has been touched by all the public support and well wishes.

He explained he went to A&E after being unable to breathe and later that night suffered a heart attack.

"I had a chest infection at the end of September and had to cancel Electric Picnic which is the one thing I was looking forward to all year," he said.

"I went to Barcelona and did a gig there and then went to San Francisco. I came home and hadn't been feeling right since. I couldn't breathe and I had the heart attack on the Monday night I was admitted. Then I had a relapse on the Thursday night and they told me if I hadn't been in hospital I wouldn't be here at all."

Terri, the founder of the Good Vibrations label and music store, said he hoped he would have been able to go home but was told by doctors his condition was too serious.

"It was five days before anyone knew I was in hospital. I thought I would be in and out but that wasn't the case. I didn't even know myself I had had a heart attack. I had a heart attack 20 years ago."

Still maintaining a sense of humour Terri, who was responsible for releasing The Undertones' classic Teenage Kicks, jokingly said: "I have been ready to go for 20 years - I don't know how I've got away with it for so long."

But he said he is making the best of his stay in hospital.

"The last three nights I've had eight hours' sleep a night - I can't remember the last time I've had such good sleep.

"I'm getting three meals a day and some of the nurses aren't bad looking either."

He said he has been touched by the support he has received in keeping his record shop Good Vibrations running while he is in hospital.

And among the visitors has been Snow Patrol singer Gary Lightbody.

"That was a great surprise. It was 3.15pm on Monday and I was thinking I'm Terri no-mates and then Gary came in and we had good aul craic.

"He's a great friend. But everyone has been fantastic."

A music benefit has been organised for Terri Hooley on December 28 in the Limelight. Acts include Ash's Time Wheeler, Bap Kennedy, Nathan Connolly, Duke Special, Iain Archer and The Defects.

  • Tickets cost £10 and are available from Katy Dalys, from Ticketmaster or on the door.

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