Monday 19 March 2018

Tributes pour in for Joey 'The Lips' star Murphy

Johnny Murphy as Joey ‘The Lips’ in ‘The Commitments’.
Johnny Murphy as Joey ‘The Lips’ in ‘The Commitments’.
Johnny Murphy with Ruth McCabe, Brendan Gleeson and Mick Lally in ‘The Man From Clare’
Johnny Murphy (centre, back row) with the stars of movie ‘The Commitments’ in 1991.

Kirsty Blake Knox and Ryan Nugent

Johnny Murphy, aka Joey 'The Lips' in 'The Commitments', was remembered as a "one-of- a-kind Dubliner", and "a gentleman" who "loved his pint and his crossword".

Murphy, who beat cancer five years ago, passed away this week after a short illness.

The popular actor and singer died at the age of 72 at St James's Hospital in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Tributes poured in from friends and former 'Commitments' co-stars.

Oscar-winner Glen Hansard described him as a "beautiful man and a true gent", with actress Maria Doyle-Kennedy remembering Murphy as a gentleman.

Murphy was chosen to play Joey 'The Lips' Fagan by 'Commitments' director Alan Parker. The role had originally been intended to go to musician Van Morrison.

Fellow 'Commitments' actor Dick Massey said he "loved having the craic", while Roddy Doyle described him as "a real Dublin head".

Dave Finnegan, who played off-the-wall drummer Mickah Wallace, told the Irish Independent he can picture Murphy "up in heaven with his Suzuki looking for Wilson Pickett, I suppose, because that's what Joey would have been doing".

He said Murphy played the role of Joey 'The Lips' to perfection - despite having to go to a racetrack to learn how to ride a bike. And he couldn't actually play the trumpet in real life.

"We were all part of something special and he was a great actor - he always kept his feet on the ground, he lived in Crumlin, near the shopping centre, and would go down the Workman's Club in Inchicore for a few pints - we'd have a few house parties too," Finnegan added.

Murphy was also an accomplished stage actor and toured extensively with Dublin's Gate Theatre in an acclaimed production of 'Waiting For Godot'. His last performance was in a 2011 production that toured every county in Ireland.

Last night, director of The Gate Michael Colgan remembered him as "a great friend and a great actor."

"He was quite simply a one-of-a-kind Dubliner," he said.

"We travelled to China and Australia and Johnny was fantastic company - he loved having a few pints and doing the crossword.

"He also had a great sense of humour. I asked him to go and see the Great Wall of China and he said 'Michael, I have a wall in my back garden in Drimnagh. I'm not travelling two hours to see another wall!'

"He was unassuming and a true talent."

Murphy's nephew Peter Reid described his uncle as "amazing and charming and funny" and shared some traits with his famous trumpet-playing character.

"He was just as charismatic off-stage as he was on-stage," he said.

"He was a great person to be around. He was a very bright man and will be dearly missed."

Irish Independent

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment