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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 March 2008, 13:13 GMT
Summer of teenage dreams remembered
By Cameron Mitchell

Good Vibrations anniversary
Undertones guitarist John O'Neill, Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Terri Hooley and Undertones drummer Billy Doherty
Thirty years ago this summer a cultural revolution began to sweep across Northern Ireland.

A revolution that promised a glimmer of hope to a generation of discontented youth.

Fed up with the constant reminders of terror on their doorstep, many teenagers turned to that classic home of rebellion - music.

They took their lead from the DIY punk movement that exploded in England turning working class kids into heroes.

John Peel became a radio fixture for them and they began meeting in Belfast's pubs and street corners discussing the latest music and even the possibility of forming their very own punk bands.

One of these young voyagers was Terri Hooley, owner of a small backstreet record shop called Good Vibrations.

Every Saturday the shop was buzzing with young teenagers wanting to hear the latest release by bands like The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks.

The shop quickly became the hub of Northern Ireland's punk scene and it wasn't long until bands began to sprout up across the country.

Punk veteran Greg Cowan from The Outcasts explains: "Good Vibrations was the only thing that reflected the youth culture at the time. Belfast was like a cultural wasteground, there was absolutely nothing."

A feeling shared by novelist and punk fanatic Glenn Patterson: "Good Vibrations suddenly opened up the city, and for people like me in their teens, you felt a sort of ownership for the city."

As young bands grew in confidence, so did the number of people who attended their gigs.

Hooley soon realised that these local bands were as good as anything from London and that it was time for bands from Belfast to put out their own records.

Good Vibrations gave an opportunity to those that wouldn't have had a chance to make records
Mickey Bradley, The Undertones

"Originally I wanted to make was a free flip-flop record to send out to record companies in England and let them know that there was something amazing happening here in Belfast.

Terri Hooley
Good Vibrations founder Terri Hooley

"We discovered that it was only a few pence more expensive to make a proper record.

"So the label was actually set up more by accident than design. We never had a plan and we didn't know what we were doing".

Good Vibrations soon had an impressive portfolio of bands, including The Undertones from Derry, whose anthem Teenage Kicks became an instant success.

"Good Vibrations gave an opportunity to those that wouldn't have had a chance to make records, it was very difficult at that time to get your music pressed on an actual record," Undertones bassist, Mickey Bradley, recalls.

"Whenever Teenage Kicks actually became a hit record and got on Top Of The Pops, it gave a sense of pride.

"People thought it was great that bands from Belfast like Rudi and The Outcasts could release records and it was all by this guy from a record shop who didn't really know anything about business."

I was once offered a huge sum of money to go to America and discover talent but I always said I would rather be down and out and penniless in Belfast than be sitting drinking cocktails in LA
Terri Hooley

After the launch of Teenage Kicks the label gained much needed creditability in England.

DJ John Peel, one of the most influential people in the music business, became a staunch supporter of the label.

Hooley remembers the first time John Peel visited the record shop

"When Peel made his first pilgrimage to Good Vibes with Kid Jensen he told us that he couldn't believe that all this great music was coming out of an office that was the size of a dinky phone booth," he says.

It was Hooley's approach to business - and the fact that he put music before money - that caused many to hold him in high regard.

Glenn Patterson, who is currently writing a screenplay on Hooley, explains: "You could compare Terri Hooley to the likes of Malcolm McLaren or Tony Wilson; they didn't have the greatest heads for business.

"I don't think Hooley would say he had a great head for business, in fact out of the three of them I think he probably had the worst.

Gary Lightbody and Mickey Bradley
Gary Lightbody and Mickey Bradley paid tribute to Terri Hooley

"But he was an enabler and wasn't somebody who just put out records but he offered a whole new way of life. And long before anybody sang about Alternative Ulster he was living Alternative Ulster."

This is something that Hooley jokes about.

"People say I could have been a millionaire. I was once offered a huge sum of money to go to America and discover talent, but I always said I would rather be down and out and penniless in Belfast than be sitting drinking cocktails in LA.

"I didn't realise how quickly that would come," he says.

Hooley, caught up in the moment even had a go at releasing his own record under the name Terri and the Terrors.

"Fresh Records released it in England and it went to number one in the alternative charts," he says.

"Phil Lynott sent me a telegram and said congratulations you're number one in the charts. I couldn't believe it because I couldn't sing a note."

Asked to sum up the summer of 1978, Hooley says: "I can't believe we did all those things, and what it means to other people, and what it means to the whole new generation.

It was the antithesis of everything else that was happening at the time. It was a light in the darkness
Gary Lightbody, Snow Patrol

"For that year you couldn't lift a music paper that wasn't talking about Belfast punk music".

The label experienced a rollercoaster of highs and lows over the years, but has now ceased trading.

However, the music that came out of the summer of 1978 continues to influence a whole new breed of Northern Irish musicians.

Gary Lightbody, frontman of Snow Patrol, describes the punk scene at that time as the most important period in Northern Irish music.

"It was the antithesis of everything else that was happening at the time. It was a light in the darkness. Nobody else was doing it at the time and this should be recognised."

Stuart Bell from the Panama Kings agrees: "Good Vibrations did so much to raise the profile of the Northern Irish music scene at a time when our culture was suppressed by everything else that was going on. "It is quite inspiring for us, the 'oh yeah' generation, to look back and see what they did when it was a lot more difficult."

Hooley, never missing a moment to promote local music, is proud that bands from Northern Ireland continue to dominate the charts.

"I think bands like Snow Patrol can prove that you can do it. Bands now realise that it is practically a bonus to come from Northern Ireland".

The Undertones will be headlining a special concert on 25 April to mark the 30th anniversary of Good Vibrations at the Mandela Hall.

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