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Tributes pour in for Katmandu singer Marty Lundy after celebrated frontman's death at 68


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Marty Lundy was a regular on stage throughout the Troubles

Marty Lundy was a regular on stage throughout the Troubles

Marty Lundy was a regular on stage throughout the Troubles

One of Belfast's best-loved singers Marty Lundy, who kept the flame of hope alive with his music through the darkest days of the Troubles, has died.

And as hundreds of tributes were paid yesterday to the front man of new wave band Katmandu, fans and friends also shared stories about him, including how he refused to let Sting into a sold-out gig.

As well as being a talented singer, Marty also used his gift for comedy to put smiles on the faces of audiences at gigs during difficult times in Belfast, where Katmandu were regulars at concerts in Queen's University.

Friends said Marty, who was 68, passed away at his home in Belfast on Tuesday.

Among the tributes was one from Liam O Maonlai of Hothouse Flowers, who described Marty as "great".

Radio DJ and musician Johnny Hero said on Facebook: "The genius that is Marty Lundy has passed away, and things will never be the same. Devastated."

Johnny told the Belfast Telegraph: "I've known Marty since the 1970s. He was a fantastic supporter of new bands and allowed us to use his gear. He was a very intelligent, articulate and a great songwriter. He was a marvellous musician behind all the panto stuff."

Johnny recalled how Sting was turned away from a Katmandu gig in Dublin.

"They were playing at a packed club when The Police, who were recording in the city, arrived but the 'full house' signs were already up. Marty was told that Sting wanted in and he replied: 'Sting Who?' And he didn't get in."

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Sting was refused admittance to a sold-out Katmandu show

Sting was refused admittance to a sold-out Katmandu show

Sting was refused admittance to a sold-out Katmandu show

Drummer Seamus O'Neill, who is also the organiser of the Belfast City Blues Festival, said Marty was "way, way ahead of his time".

He added: "Marty was one of a kind. He inspired scores of musicians back in the day. He wasn't just a wonderful singer, he was also a real showman. He sometimes left the stage and went to the bar to order a drink or to go to the loo while he was still singing into the roving microphone!"

RTE presenter John Kelly, from Enniskillen, tweeted his thanks to Marty for "many happy memories in the Students' Union and keeping our spirits up during some very dark days".

Former Energy Orchard musician Joby Fox posted a farewell "to my old mucker and great entertainer, Marty Lundy. Passes on to the big gig in the sky. Catch you later, Marty". Marty was born into a musical family in Belfast. His father Arthur was an acclaimed fiddle player and the city's most famous traditional music bar Madden's has his portrait on the gable wall.

But in the Seventies Marty formed rock groups including Zenith and Dirty Work before setting up Katmandu, whose line-up was stellar.

It consisted of guitarist Iggy Ward, drummer Peter McKinney and bass player Trevor Hutchinson, who went on to carve out successful careers in the music industry, playing and recording with the likes of Van Morrison, The Waterboys and The 4 of Us.

Another pivotal member of Katmandu, Pat 'Fitzy' Fitzpatrick, who joined Dublin group Aslan, died two years ago after a lengthy battle with cancer.

In television interviews in 1980 Marty and Peter said Katmandu's music was influenced by Roxy Music, Talking Heads, Steely Dan, David Bowie and even Wings.

Marty said that, in their heyday, Katmandu were playing at least four nights a week in Belfast but admitted that it was difficult to find good venues in the city.

He insisted that the success of The Undertones at the time had little impact on them.

"We have nothing in common with The Undertones," he said, adding that anyone who expected them to sound like the Derry band were "sadly disillusioned".

"I would differentiate between punk and new wave," said Marty.

"We certainly like the new wave."

He talked of finding the music scene in Dublin a "tough game" but he could not resist a touch of humour, responding to a question about the band's success at venues like the Baggot Inn. He recalled: "I've got myself a new tie," adding: "There's a sea of music out there but my boat's in pretty good shape."

Despite their popularity in Ireland, musical insiders said Katmandu did not realise their potential. They released one single but never secured a major record deal here or across the water.

Even after Katmandu officially split up Marty and other band members met up regularly for reunion gigs, the last of which were late last year in the Botanic Inn and Empire Music Hall in Belfast.

Friends say Marty was still writing songs but he also posted comedy monologues, directed by his friend McKinney, which are still available on YouTube.

They included one of Marty pretending to apply for benefits at a government office, asking if he could claim expenses for gourmet meals eaten in restaurants.

Poignantly, there are also pieces called A Ghost Story, Old Father Time and The End of the World.

Belfast Telegraph