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Newcastle v Sunderland – Carry on up the charts

2 weeks ago

I recently found out that the lead singer of the late 1970s punk band the Angelic Upstarts had passed away. Mensi along with the rest of the group who hailed from South Shields, was an unashamed fan of the mackems.

This got me thinking, that although the Newcastle v Sunderland gulf in class is now quite considerable, our Wearside and Durham friends were also once competitive on the music front.

None more so than in the 1980s when the likes of the Kane Gang from Seaburn and Prefab Sprout from Witton Gilbert, had acclaimed chart success.

Mind you, there was also some rubbish that emerged from Sunderland, the Toy Dolls (Nellie the Elephant) and also a Tribe of Toffs (John Kettley is a weatherman).

They can probably be forgiven though, when you consider that the talented Dave Stewart was in the phenomenal Eurythmics. Going back to the 1970s, John Miles from Jarrow should also not be forgotten.

Music from Tyneside has recently been given a boost both nationally and internationally by the emergence of Sam Fender from North Shields.

Sam is my friend’s cousin and my mate Thoma’s lad Dean is the guitarist. My Uncle Tommy’s grandson Jack is on keyboards. These lads are Toon daft and we are proud of them.

Another excellent band who were massive Newcastle United fans, the incomparable Lindisfarne. The late, great Alan Hull had the privilege of playing at St James Park with his band during the emotional promotion party in 1993, when we put Leicester City to the sword 7-1.

Sting isn’t one of my favourite artists but he does come from Wallsend. Although he now supports Newcastle, as a youngster he was a mackem and naturally changed his stripes when fame came knocking.

His big mate Jimmy Nail has had some huge hit singles of his own, including a UK Number 1. His nineties hit ‘Big River’ has also now been immortalised at St James Park.

Brian Johnson made his name with the band ‘Geordie’ before joining AC/DC after the death of Bonn Scott. In the dark old days of boardroom upheaval, Brian even offered to put his hand in his own pocket to help his beloved black and whites out.

My favourite ‘Geordie’ band though are the Animals. They were part of the British invasion of America in the 1960s along with the likes of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark 5. They appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and for a while their star shone high.

Tensions in the band though soon unfolded, none more so than after the huge hit ‘House of the Rising Sun’. Based on an old American folk tune it was a collaboration by all five band members, but when the record came out, only Alan Price’s name appeared on the disc (hence Alan Price has collected the outstanding royalties to this day).

Years later, when asked why the Animals had split up, Eric Burdon casually said….”You see there was Chas Chandler, John Steele, Hilton Valentine and myself. We all came from the north side of the river, drank Newcastle brown ale and supported Newcastle United. Alan Price was from Jarrow, drank Vaux Double Maxim and was a mackem. It was as simple as that.”

Absolutely priceless Eric and it makes me smile to this day.

Well, that may have whetted some appetites for a little battle of the bands, as there are plenty more to mention.



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