Crack – Silly Fellow
Following on from last week’s post on Famous Shamus is another oddity from the mind of Shay Healy. In January 1980 Paul McCartney flew to Japan with Wings (his band, that is) but was arrested by Japanese customs officials at Narita airport after they found a bag of marijuana casually stowed in his suitcase. As McCartney explained, “I was out in New York and I had all this really good grass. We were about to fly to Japan and I knew I wouldn’t be able to get anything to smoke over there. This stuff was too good to flush down the toilet, so I thought I’d take it with me… the daftest thing I’ve done in my entire life.” Naturally, the very public drug bust made headlines around the world, most of them highly critical of the bad example being set by the pop star, who was himself very contrite about the incident. After ten days in jail, the Japanese government deported McCartney rather than stage a trial, but Wings’ planned tours were cancelled and the band soon fell apart in the wake of John Lennon’s murder later that year.
Enter Shay Healy, who in the late ’70s was recording and playing with former Real McCoy drummer Dave Pennefather as a comedy band called Rubbish. Sensing an opportunity, the duo released a single on the British-based Bridge House label, credited as Crack and sung in a mock Paul McCartney voice, apologising for his transgressions. Another, unrelated, Irish band named ‘The Crack’ would be launched later the same year and would coincidentally be strongly associated with McCartney and Wings by critics. This group initially featured Healy’s occasional collaborator Aonghus McAnally, but was soon reduced to a duo including McCartney sound-alike Tommy Lundy, while their sophisticated and melodic song-writing reminded many of Wings’ in their mid-’70s heyday.
‘B’-side ‘Fairy Story’ was written by Healy sometime in the early 1970s, during which time he spent some years working as a singer in the US, and throws a ‘fabulous’ twist into the traditional fairy tale. 1980 would prove a momentous year for Healy too, as he wrote the winning song at the Eurovision finals and largely abandoned novelty songs for more serious fare, combined with further stints in TV presenting (it was Healy’s interview with former minister Sean Doherty on his ‘Nighthawks’ show that finally ended the career of seemingly invincible taoiseach Charles Haughey). Dave Pennefather went on to become General Manager of MCA Ireland from 1984 and was Managing Director of Universal Ireland from 1999 to 2008. Today Shay Healy continues to write, record and perform, the effects of Parkinson’s Disease seemingly only spurring him on to further creativity.
- Silly Fellow
- Fairy Story