The Undertones emerged from Derry in 1976, the result of five friends (John O’Neill, Damian
O’Neill, Feargal Sharkey, Billy Doherty and Michael Bradley) learning how to play basic rock
Even by the standards of that decade Derry was not the rock and roll capital of anywhere.
With no live bands worth watching, they learned by listening to mail order records, reading
one of the few copies of NME that made it to Derry but most of all from listening to John
Peel’s wonderful show on BBC Radio One. Practicing in their bedrooms eventually led to the
band recording John O’Neill’s ‘Teenage Kicks’ in 1978 on Terri Hooley's Good Vibrations
label in Belfast. The legendary DJ John Peel received a copy and liked it so much he played
it twice in a row on his radio show.
The Undertones signed with Sire Records and ‘Teenage Kicks’ was re-released, resulting in
the band's first appearance on Top Of The Pops. Over the next five years, John O Neill,
crafted further pop gems such as `Here Comes The Summer`, ‘Jimmy Jimmy`, `You’ve Got
My Number (Why Don’t You Use It)’ and ‘Wednesday Week’ whilst Damian O’Neill and
Michael Bradley contributed ‘My Perfect Cousin. They also recorded four highly acclaimed
LPs. Indeed, they almost enjoyed the life of professional musicians. In 1983 Feargal
Sharkey left the band to pursue a solo career and the remaining members decided to call it a
day. The Undertones were to remain silent for the next sixteen years.
In 1999 The Undertones reconvened, without Feargal Sharkey, to once again perform their
two-minute, three and a half chord songs to a new generation of fans in Derry. Fellow
Derryman Paul McLoone replaced Sharkey on vocals and his vocal prowess and electric
onstage presence soon convinced any doubters that he was more than capable of doing the
After much consideration the band released an album of new songs called `Get What You
Need', which was critically acclaimed by Q magazine, Uncut, Rolling Stone and Hot Press.
Songs like ‘Thrill Me’, ‘I Need Your Love The Way It Used To Be’ and ‘Everything But You'
showed that the art of writing short, sharp songs had not been lost over the previous two
In 2003 ‘Thrill Me’ was released as a limited edition 7” vinyl single and found its way to John
Peel’s turntable. He introduced it on his show commenting, “And these are words I thought I
would never be saying on radio again, a new single from The Undertones”. He liked it so
much he played it twice, just as he did with ‘Teenage Kicks’ in 1978.
Since signing a licensing deal with Union Square Music, the four original LPs, ‘The
Undertones’, ‘Hypnotised’, ‘The Positive Touch’ and ‘The Sin Of Pride’ have been available
in digital and physical form, all with additional tracks and videos.
The band marked Record Store Day 2013 with a 7” vinyl only release, recorded in the
famous Toe Rag studio in London. A return to their punk roots, 'Much Too Late' sold out the
1,000 copies before the day was out.
2016 marked the band’s 40th Anniversary. They celebrated with a variety of scorching live
performances at festivals and venues throughout the UK and Europe. The reviews have
been glowing and many critics and fans say the band are playing as well as or better than
2016 also saw vinyl remasters of first two LPs; ‘The Undertones – The Undertones’ and ‘The
Undertones – Hypnotised’ released alongs with a 7” vinyl remix of the 1979 single ‘Get Over
You’. Remixed by Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine/Primal Scream). Michael Bradley also
published his book Teenage Kicks: My Life As An Undertone’.