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Rock n' Role Model The Commitments' Dave Finnegan has gone from rock star to care worker

"I thought I'd try something different. From the life of a rock'n'roller to a careworker."

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The Commitments film

The Commitments film

The Commitments film

HE'S renowned as the wild man of The Commitments, who as Mickah Wallace famously banged a microphone so hard against his forehead on set that it drew real blood.

But musician Dave Finnegan is now a care worker, and during the height of Covid worked with patients suffering from dementia and held their hands as they passed away.

"I became a care worker for the last eight years," Dave (54) tells the Sunday World. "I thought I'd try something different. From the life of a rock'n'roller to a careworker.

"I started working with autism when I was living in Essex and was still doing gigs, but they were up and down. I wanted to do something else and at the time care work was suggested. I quite liked it, looking after them, and saw a different side to me."

Dave then moved to Glasgow, having fallen in love with a Scottish girl.

"I was doing the same kind of care thing, one to one, then I started working with drugs projects, homeless people," explains Dave.

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Dave with his partner Karen

Dave with his partner Karen

Dave with his partner Karen

"Then the last two years, because that went quiet because of Covid, I have been working with dementia in the care homes."

Brave Dave worked tirelessly during the height of the pandemic.

"It was very hard working in the heavy dementia units for the past couple of years, where their families can't see them," he says.

"So you have to watch them die. That can take a hold of you, because a lot of people are out sick.

"None of them could see their families at that stage, especially when it was bad, and people with dementia can go through a certain thing during the day where they are getting mixed up and calling for their husbands or families and they just totally forget ten minutes later, and then crying.

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"Some of the girls found it hard, so I used to sit with them during the night when they passed."

Because of his work, Dave was one of the first to get vaccinated in January, but despite being double jabbed he still caught Covid.

"Then I passed it on to my partner, it was terrible," he admits. "We got it very bad.

"I needed a break. I will go back to care work shortly, but just one to one."

Dave was plucked from obscurity as the age of 23 to star in The Commitments, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.

"I used to play the rockabilly scene and had Sharkbait (a band) and go to England and do a few festivals over there," he recalls. " We just split. There were no jobs and I got a job in McDonalds, I used go out afterwards with a few lads and busk on Grafton Street, with a double bass and do '50s stuff.

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Dave Finnegan

Dave Finnegan

Dave Finnegan

"We got a little jam session going every Saturday in Judge Roy Beans. It was the summer of 1990, World Cup fever.

"We just used to busk in there. The Hubbards [casting agents] came in; they were there with a camera. I thought they were American tourists. They were there with a camera and we were having a laugh with them afterwards.

"They got me to come along on the following Monday to do a reading with an actor. I said I couldn't act. I said, 'I wasn't going to come because I mistakenly thought it was Bisto gravy ad'. She said 'did you not see the posters around town', and I said 'nope'.

"I said we are old rockabilly guys, our side of music wasn't really with the Dublin pop scene even though we hung out in the Underground. We just wanted to be Gene Vincent and Elvis and the Straycats. So that's how she found us."

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Dave played Mickah Wallace

Dave played Mickah Wallace

Dave played Mickah Wallace

While on the set of The Commitments, Dave would mess around with a mic, initially putting it in his mouth and then banging it against his forehead.

"On the film set, it was the second day filming and Robert Arkins (Jimmy Rabbitte) was having a bad day and I kept busting the mic off my forehead and there was some blood," he recalls. "Alan Parker [the director] said 'what's wrong with you, are you a wimp?' So I said 'you try it' and he did and he nearly knocked himself out. So they put a rubber thing over it, because microphones are hard. I was half cut at the time, so I didn't care.

"My missus thinks I'm a bit mad, that's probably from hitting the microphones off my head!"

Dave, who hails from Crumlin, Dublin, also reveals for the first time how much they were paid.

"My fee for the film - I think everybody was on the same, the 12 main characters - was about 18 grand at the time," he discloses.

"It was a huge amount. I had a different attitude to the others. I had dreams of being in films. That young guy in the bedroom with posters and all that."

After the film came out in 1991, Dave was a member of a couple of tribute bands cashing in on the movie, including his own one, Dave Finnegan's Commitments, who are still together and touring this year.

He got married to a woman named Sharon and moved to Burnley, where a downward spiral of boozing and depression hit him so hard he endured a couple of suicide attempts.

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Dave Finnegan still performs

Dave Finnegan still performs

Dave Finnegan still performs

"I got counselling after. I got involved with AA and was off the beer for about five years. Don't forget we had lived in a bubble and were on the road pretty much every day and were partying. A bit too much but I had nobody to blame but myself.

"I very rarely drink these days. I have never done drugs, never liked them. I'm a working-class booze person."

He met his new partner Karen two years ago on a dating app and is lives in Glasgow.

"I will continue with the care work and while I have lately thought about giving up playing music, as it hasn't been financially rewarding, I hopefully I can continue it," he says.

See davefinneganscommitments.com

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