Johnny Marr and Mani (Stone Roses) - interesting story

Discussion in 'General Discussion archive 2004 (read-only)' started by Father Neil Horan, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. From http://www.kildare-nationalist.ie/community/story.asp?j=15590

    Modern music icons go back to their roots in south Kildare

    IT is a little known fact that Castledermot holds the roots of the two celebrated Manchester icons, known worldwide on the music scene through their involvement with top bands, Primal Scream and The Smiths.

    Manchester has produced some of the most significant musicians in Britain. Guitarist Johnny Marr, currently fronting The Healers and formally of The Smiths and Electronic, along with bass maestro Mani from Primal Scream and previously The Stone Roses, have been friends for a number of years. While they are split down the middle in their support of the Manchester soccer clubs, they are united in their support for Glasgow Celtic and their family’s unique Kildare heritage.

    Johnny Marr tells the story: “My mother came from a family of fourteen and they lived in this tiny little farmhouse. There were no other houses around. My moth-er’s father disappeared and her mother was left to bring up fourteen kids. Then her mother got sick and there was a bit of panic about what the children would do because she became really ill. So all the kids got farmed out for other families to look after them. I heard about this family that were called the Farrells, who were like my family’s guardian angels. They took my mother in while they were having a pretty hard time themselves. This would have been in the late forties and my mum would have been around 8 or 9 years old.

    ‘I couldn’t believe this situation where a little farmland in Co. Kildare, Ireland, had the seeds of two musicians who were going to make it from the Manchester scene thirty years later’

    “Years later, my mum said to me: ‘I heard that Nancy Farrell’s boy is in a pop group and doing really well” and I said ‘Who’s that?’ because I heard about the Farrells all the time, and she said: ‘It’s Gary, (Mani) the bass player. He’s in this group called The Stone Roses.’ I couldn’t believe this situation where a little farmland in Co. Kildare, Ireland, had the seeds of two musicians who were going to make it from the Manchester scene 30 years later.”

    Mani, just back from a tour with Primal Scream in Japan, has also been back to the land of his ancestors. ‘We had a bit of clan back there - the Doyles (Marr’s mother’s family) and the Farrells. I’ve been over in Castledermot to visit my uncle’s grave. It was a bit like the Isle of Skye - a beautiful, rural and peaceful little place. Johnny’s family and mine all know each other in Manchester.”

    Both Marr and Mani’s family immigrated to Manchester at the very start of the 1960s. Johnny points that the visual, literary and artistic influences in Irish folk and Catholic culture had a strong impact on him from an early age. “Everywhere I looked were crucifixes, harps, horseshoes, Guinness and the Sacred Heart. There were also pictures of JFK, who was a big icon to the young Irish community - particularly young Irish women. Holidays were always spent in Ireland. There is a surreal quality to Irish culture that appears in the music and literature that is very intangible. I’m not surprised Ireland has that Leprechaun thing. I love the way the Irish subvert language, there’s nothing better than a super-eloquent Irish person, and most are, because their sense of humour, crossed with the way they speak, is fantastic.”

    The guitarist laughs about being taken out with his Irish father first thing in the morning to dig roads, while still wearing eyeliner, bike boots and a leather jacket from the night before, and realising the more traditional toils of labour were not for him. The combination of working class values and his artistic ability did give the musician a sense of perspective.

    “If the only way you can see out of your situation is by following your creative talent, then you marry that talent with the full on work ethic that you are brought up with. In my background, it was unthinkable that you were not going to work. I was brought up with the idea that the day I sign on is the day I get thrown out, which actually happened in the end but it did me a lot of good because I had to fend for myself.”.

    When the young guitar genius became successful, his dad had the opportunity to stop working, which he declined. Johnny points out. “It’s honest, he was good at it and if you work that hard, you probably feel pretty good about yourself at the end of the day”.

    Mani describes himself as an Irishman with an English accent, which is not unusual in Manchester, as one in three from the city claim to have some form of Irish roots

    While the friends differ over United and City, they both celebrate their Irishness through their support of Glasgow Celtic. Mani points out: “For me, it’s always been Celtic and Manchester United. Rod Stewart had it right when he sang ‘Celtic/United’. He didn’t mention Liverpool or Rangers! United and Celtic come from the same Irish immigrant roots and we share a unique history.” Johnny agrees: “I just looked at Celtic and thought ‘that’s us’. They looked almost continental in the hoops.”

    Mani describes himself as an Irishman with an English accent, which is not unusual in Manchester, as one in three from the city claim to have some form of Irish roots. “In Primal Scream, we support the Holy Trinity of football Celtic, Manchester United and Hibernian. Supporting Celtic and Ireland was ingrained into me from an early age and you’ll find it’s the same for a lot of the Manchester bands with an Irish background.

    As well as Noel and Liam from Oasis, there’s Sean Ryder from the Happy Mondays, Billy Duffy from The Cult and The Doves.




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