The music and legacy of Mic Christopher

And this is our heyday baby

And we’re not gonna be afraid to shout

‘Cause we can make our heyday last forever

And ain’t that what it’s all about

If anyone has watched this years’ Begorrathon trailer, you may have noticed that our unofficial soundtrack is a fantastic song called Heyday by Mic Christopher.

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Mic Christopher was born in New York in 1969, but moved back to Dublin with his parents and sister Maureen when he was three years old. He was educated at an Irish language school – Coláiste Chilliain in Clondalkin and began his musical career playing in traditional Irish bands at school, before he started busking on Grafton Street at the age of 15.

Over the next five years he became close with many of the musicians on the Dublin scene at that time, including Karl and David Odlum and Glen Hansard of The Frames. Glen and Mic became very close friends, often busking and performing together. Of Christopher, Hansard said

He was the High King. We were a tribe and he was our High King

In the early 1990s, Mic Christopher formed The Mary Janes with Karl Odlum, with the distinction of being a three piece band with no drummer. They signed to Warner-Chappell in 1994 and recorded two albums in the next five years, playing gigs and festivals all over the world. Mic however, felt that the band wasn’t fulfilling its full potential and they split in 1999.

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Glen Hansard and Mic Christopher

At this time, Mic took his first (and only) 9 to 5 job as a bicycle courier, but suffered a serious accident in 2000 when his motorbike collided with a car. He broke his neck and was left in an upper body cast for three months and it was during his convalescence that he began to write his own music again, composing the songs that would eventually end up on his debut album Skylarkin’.

In 2001, he released his EP Heyday, which was heard by his musical hero Mike Scott from The Waterboys. Scott contacted Christopher directly and asked him to support the band on their next European tour. This was a dream come true for Mic and he was riding on a real buzz that had built in Ireland at that time around the home grown singer-songwriters who were performing in venues such as Whelans and the Spirit Store. Everything seemed to be coming together for the man with the voice of Tim Buckley and the swagger of his other musical hero – Elvis.

 

On 18 November 2001, Mic Christopher supported The Waterboys in Groningen in the Netherlands. He sold some CDs, had a few drinks and in the early hours of the morning, was found unconscious having tripped on some steps and hit his head. He remained in a coma until he died on 29 November surrounded by his family and friends.

He was 32 years old.

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Before his untimely death, Mic had been working on his first solo album Skylarkin’ and had discussed with his old friend Karl Odlum how he wanted it to sound. Under the guidance of his sister Maureen, and the help of many of his musician friends, Skylarkin’ was eventually released posthumously in November 2002, a year after his death. Guest musicians on the album included Glenn Hansard, Lisa Hannigan and Gemma Hayes and the album went on to win the Best Album at the 2003 Meteor Awards in Ireland and was voted no 14 in the Hot Press People’s Choice Top 100 Irish Albums of All Time.

Heyday is perhaps Mic Christopher’s most well-known song, with its uplifting lyrics and anthemic chorus. Mic told his sister that Heyday was about

Every day being your best day

It further entered the Irish consciousness when it was used in the Guinness advert – Quarrel – produced in 2003 and starring a very young Michael Fassbender.

Since his death, Glen Hansard has dedicated every album by The Frames to his old friend and the Damien Rice album O is also dedicated to him.

It’s impossible to say what Mic Christopher could have achieved had he not died so young, but like Jeff Buckley before him, his musical legacy remains. He will always be in his heyday.

Leargas, the Irish language documentary series produced a really moving documentary on the life and legacy of Mic Christopher called Troubadour which you can watch here on YouTube

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10 thoughts on “The music and legacy of Mic Christopher

  1. Lovely post Cathy. I’d not heard of Mic Christopher but I’ll certainly try to track down some of his music. What a tragically short life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, I’ve never heard of him before, but I just listened to Heyday while reading your post, and I quite like it. It reminds me a tiny little bit of Jeff Buckley. Poor unfortunate souls…
    The fact that his death was caused in Groningen is perhaps what strikes me the most, because that’s the city in which I’ve been born and raised, and am still living now. You’d think I would’ve heard about this! (although, granted, I was 8 in 2001, so it would’ve passed me by at the time).

    Liked by 1 person

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