teenage dreams | 

RTE legend Dave Fanning feels like he won the ‘Lotto in life’ thanks to his career

“My only regret is that I did too much for nothing,” Dave tells the Sunday World

Dave Fanning and Billie Eilish

Reporter Eddie Rowley chats with Dave

Dave Fanning

Dave Fanning at Whelans poster

Eddie RowleySunday World

HE famously championed U2 more than 40 years ago before they hit the big time, but 2fm radio legend Dave Fanning reveals it was his “music obsessed” daughter Hayley who discovered a then unknown Billie Eilish on social media in 2017.

As he gets set to host a new series of the Virgin Media TV music show, Fanning at Whelan’s, Dave also tells how he feels like he won the Lotto in life because his job has allowed him to be the eternal teenager.

However, Fanning (66), who has always been a contract worker and was never among the big earners in RTE despite his profile, admits that he does regret selling himself short through the decades because he isn’t motivated by money.

“My only regret is that I did too much for nothing,” Dave tells the Sunday World. “And I really do regret that in some ways. In a big way? No!

"Would I like to win the Lotto? F**k yeah. It would help if I bought a f**kin’ ticket. Do I need the money? Of course I do. Do I really care? No!”

Dave Fanning at Whelans poster

But the dad-of-three is not complaining as he looks back on a career that still allows him to make a living doing what he loves. “Oh my God, I’ve won the Lotto right across the board in terms of the wife and the kids and the job,” Dave says.

“I find it really weird when people question why I’m still passionate about music that they see as being geared to a 24-year-old, and I’m not 24. But it’s music and I love every minute of it.”

The father of two sons, Jack and Robert, and daughter Hayley, who are all living in the family home, Dave says he and his wife Ursula love their company and going on holidays with them.

“Hayley is obsessed with music,” he reveals. “She did come across Billie Eilish on social media before anyone had heard of her. She bought Billie’s EP and the whole Fanning family got behind it.

“I mentioned her name to about 20 different people in those days and every single person said, ‘Billie Eilish, who is he?’ When I then saw that she was playing in Amsterdam I brought the family over as a Christmas present to surprise them.

Reporter Eddie Rowley chats with Dave

“Billie was playing in a little room in the venue with about 80 people there. A woman brought her on stage with a little torch and she performed with a backing track and her brother Finneas, and the gig was great. Afterwards there were about seven people queuing up to buy a T-shirt and the woman was there. I said, ‘I saw you on stage with the torch. Are you Billie’s mother? It was. I said, ‘We came from Ireland to see you.’

“She said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous you did not! Wow! that’s amazing, do you want to meet her?’ So we went backstage and we met Billie and Finneas and got photographs taken.

“Then about six months later I saw she was playing in Milan, and we went, ‘Wow, maybe we can do that again just for the laugh.’ If you do it right it’s not massively expensive because you’re only staying for a couple of nights. This time there were 120 people at the gig and she still only had that EP out. We met the mother again, said hello to Billie, had a good laugh and got loads of pictures taken.

“And then about eight months later she was playing in Stockholm, so we said, ‘Let’s go see her again, why not.’ This time there were about 800 people there because she was getting played on the radio. We met the family again, including her father who was building the stage because he’s a carpenter.

“That was in early 2019 and about 26 days later she released her debut album and within two days she was the biggest name in music.”

Dave Fanning

Fanning adds that he’s delighted to give new and established Irish acts a platform on his latest Fanning At Whelan’s seven-part TV series, which starts on Virgin Media Two next Saturday and will be repeated on Thursdays on Virgin Media One.

It will feature special guests chatting about music, with Bob Geldof kicking it off next week.

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