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Rattle and Strum Paddy Casey 'nicked U2 music book from a shop' so he could start busking

The songwriter also sings the praises of Bono and says he doesn't know why people "give him stick"


Paddy Casey.

Paddy Casey.

Paddy Casey.

One of Ireland’s best-loved singers Paddy Casey has revealed how his obsession with U2 as a teenager set him on the road to fame.

He recalls going to see their Rattle and Hum rockumentary 30 times in the cinema when it came out in 1988 — and admits to stealing a book of The Joshua Tree music and lyrics from a shop to learn the songs, so that he could go busking.

In a twist that is the stuff of movies, Dubliner Paddy, from Crumlin, who left home at 13 and lived rough for years, would later go on to support U2 at Croke Park.

“One of the first books I nicked from a bookshop to go busking was the The Joshua Tree chords and lyrics,” Paddy tells the Sunday World as he gets set to release a new double album, Turn This Ship Around.

“I was young, I had no money and I put the book to good use. But I guess I’ll have to drop the money to the shop now. The Joshua Tree was definitely a big album in my youth. I remember listening to it an awful lot. The lyrics are brilliant.

“And Rattle and Hum was a great film. I went to see that about 30 times in the cinema when I was a kid. I went to the midnight show loads of times. I think it was in the Adelphi. I loved that film.”

Paddy built his own career through busking before getting a major record deal with Sony Music Ireland and releasing his first album in 1999. He also signed to U2’s Principle Management.

The popular entertainer today sings the praises of rock superstar Bono, who he got to know in those early years.

“Bono was a very nice man to work with, and that’s the God honest truth,” Paddy says. “I’ve never seen him bitch. I’ve never seen him do what’s been done to him. He gets a lot of terrible stick. I’m not sure why; people have their reasons I suppose. I think he’s alright. I think he’s a good guy. I might be missing something, maybe I am, I don’t know.

“But in any dealings I’ve had with Bono he was a total gentleman, more than most I would say. And I don’t think it’s just because he’s famous. He’s a real Dub in a weird way. He’s got that kind of sincerity, except that people don’t like his speeches.”

As Paddy’s own career took off, he later found himself rubbing shoulders with American music royalty, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, in New York back in 2003.

“It was the opening of a bar that they were partners in,” Paddy recalls. “And it was just me, my tour manager, my keyboard player and Jay Z and Beyonce sitting around the table having a couple of pints.

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“One of the other guys involved in the bar had asked me to bring down my guitar because he’d been to a gig of mine. I sang a few songs by Prince, Blackstreet’s No Diggity, and one of my own. It’s all a bit of a blur now, but I remember that Beyoncé was very quiet and the pair of them were very understated, they weren’t dressed like Beyoncé and Jay-Z.”

In his twilight years when he’s relaxing in his rocking chair, Casey will have some incredible memories to reflect on. “It’s a great way to make a living,” he acknowledges.

“There’s no real hardships. It’s tough now and then, but it’s nothing compared to what other people have to go through in life. You’re not breaking your boll**ks all day for somebody else. And it’s work you feel good doing, rather than wanting to get out of there.

“If I can make a living doing this for the rest of my life I’ll be happy. It doesn’t have to be an amazing living, just enough to keep me tipping away at it because there’s not really that much to want in the world, unless you’re Elon Musk and you literally want the whole of space to yourself.”

Casey says he never got carried away with the fame that came with his success in the heyday of his career. “Any kind of fame is a mirage,” he tells me. “You get there and it’s not what you thought.

“I’d be lying if I said that when I was a kid I didn’t want to be famous. But success was very weird for me, it was slightly unbelievable in my head. I couldn’t fathom why people kept coming to my concerts or why the album was selling so well.

“I never had any bad experiences. People would look and smile and say hello, and usually it was only at night with a few drinks that they’d come over and chat to you. I’ve always found most people are cool.”


Paddy’s new album Turn This Ship Around

Paddy’s new album Turn This Ship Around

Paddy’s new album Turn This Ship Around

Paddy’s daughter, Saoirse, from a previous relationship, has followed him into the business and is a successful singer-songwriter in her own right.

“Saoirse is a prolific songwriter,” he says proudly. “She’s a bit shy, but I was also incredibly shy at the start.

“I used to have a couple of pints before I went on stage when I was starting out gigging because of the shyness. In that sense we’re both probably slightly shyer than the average musician.”

Paddy Casey’s new album, Turn This Ship Around, is out on August 6.

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