The Tale of the Third City

Untitled Document

Bands won’t play here no more

This town; A……….ah, is coming like a ghost town;
All the clubs have been closed down…..
This place; A……….ah, is coming like a ghost town;
Bands..... won’t play.... no more; too much fighting on the dance floor…..

The words taken from the “Specials” big 80s hit “Ghost Town” in a quick attempt by myself to sum up the 70s and for a split second back then I actually thought they were singing about Belfast, but they weren’t. The truth is; Belfast couldn’t have been further from their minds when those words were penned, although the truth of the matter is, Belfast had become a ghost town; all the clubs had closed down, and guess what? Yeap you've got it. Bands didn’t play here “no more” well Big Name acts from across the sae didn't but believe me. That wasn’t because there was too much fighting on the dance floor that we could live with. Fuck; what am I saying, in my day we enjoyed that part.

The reason why all those Clubs had to close down, and why those Big Name Bands didn’t to come to play here anymore was because Belfast was no longer the safe vibrant city it once was in the 1960s. Thanks to the troubles; there would be no more Rolling Stones, the Who or the Beatles’ to name but a few. Funny enough; Terry Hooley; the self-nominated “Godfather of Punk” once summed it up to me in a conversation we had in his record shop, and I quote; the sixties were just unbelievable, they were magical but we knew it was all over by the end of November 1968. “We all knew it was time to get out of town”. This basically meant that all home grown talent such as Van "the Man” Morrison flew the coop “he” being the first of many to fuck off to pastures new, leaving “them” and us behind to face the lack of “Music” but he wasn’t alone.

So did guitarists: Eric Bell, Gary Moore and Henry McCullough; and again they weren’t the only ones, there were others but who can blame them?

1969 was only the start of drought, as it kicked off for real, more and more of the “BIG NAMES” stayed away. The political situation worsened, the bombings intensified, and slowly the country drifted into 1971 the “interment years”. The year I began to understand the situation this country was faced with, coincidently, it was also the same year Led Zeppelin came to town on “5th March 1971” to be exact. With a new song in hand that was destined to be an all-time classic, said to be the perfect template for all young budding guitarist of the future. That song was none other than “Stairway to Heaven” preformed for the very first time ever, live on stage, here in Belfast's Ulster Hall. Which is, when you think about it, one hell of a claim to be proud of; is it not? You would think so, but for every proud moment we seem to have here in Northern Ireland, there always seems to be a bucket full of not so proud moments that would follow.

1971 we should have been climbing the Stairway to Heaven but instead; in what seemed like a flick of a switch. We were all, the entire nation, being trailed by the hair; kicking and screaming along the Highway to hell…….. The troubles had truly arrived and apart from the odd appearance of Irish rock bands, such as Rory Gallagher, Thin Lizzy and Skid Row, bands who were made up of from cross boarder musicians, from both Belfast and Dublin, so they really don’t fucking count. Leaving only a handful of bands who actually dared to tread the boards in Belfast during the early to mid- 70s, who are actually worth talking about.

By the end of 1972; Belfast was well and truly divided, the facts are simple; the two sides just didn’t like each other and what made matters worse, those left to roam the corridors of power decided “that same year” it would be a wonderful idea to wrap the city centre of Belfast in a ring of steel. Huge security gates were to be erected at each and every entrance into the city centre. With each working gate; came civilian searchers who were backed by the local police force, and overseen by the British Army. Their purpose; to prevent the terrorist forces from causing any further damage to the old Victorian Architecture and, of course, to minimize the risk to any human life that dared to enter the city.


These extracts have been taken from first dratf chapters, even though they are displayed on this site they may not necessarily appear in the book, but I can assure you without any doubt whatsoever, they most certainly are part and parcel of the "Trilogy Story"! So if you buy the Book, you like it and want to read the Chapters that are not included, they will be available from this site! Remember its 40 years of memories and 5 years of research!

I would also like point out, that we are in search of photos of the era, so if you can help please send copies of whatever you have to, don't forget to leave your details so we can credit you. Thanks