Monday 19 March 2018

Obituary - Michael Carwood

Ronan Collins pays tribute to a friend MICHAEL Carwood (52) had three passions in life his family, music and sport. Known as Mike in the sporting world, and Mick to family and friends in the music business.

It is a God-given gift to be able to pick up exactly where you left off when you meet up with a friend. Even if it's been weeks or months. That was one of the great talents of my friend and musical buddy for over 30 years.

I met Mick in Sloopy's, a nightclub in D'Olier Street, Dublin, in 1971. Shortly after that first night, I met him again when I was 19 and asked to join a popular Dublin band called The Others of which he was a member.

It was the happiest musical time of our lives. We played all over Dublin's southside in scout halls, parish halls (Protestant and Catholic), tennis clubs and rugby clubs. I like to think that, because of my presence in the band, we ventured north of the Liffey ... to my side. The other members, including brothers Ken and Alan Tubbert who ran the band with Mick, were southsiders.

We also played in Zhivago's, a leading Dublin nightclub at the time. The advertisement promoting the club read 'Zhivago's where love stories begin'. But we added ... and where marriages end!

Mick was on keyboards/vocals, Alan on vocals/guitar and Ken, lead singer/guitarist with various bass players over the years. Mick had one of the most tuneful and melodic voices I have ever heard. He could sing anything Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones, Eagles or the Beatles. But he had a passion for the words and music of the Beach Boys founder, Brian Wilson.

Nobody could sing Caroline No or Disney Girls quite like Mick, as he stood behind his keyboard with the head tilted and eyes closed and hitting those high notes everytime.

It was during this period that Mick started writing songs. Indeed one of his compositions, She is Mine, contributed to The Others' two chart hits.Our second hit was our version of Abba's song Ring Ring. Although Dublin-based, we appeared on television and radio.

Mick's biggest song-writing success was Come on Ye Boys in Green, Ireland's anthem for the 1988 European soccer championships. He never made a penny out of it, giving all the royalties to charity: typical.

I left to join the Dickie Rock band in the mid-Seventies, but we never, ever, lost contact.

When The Others finally broke up in the late Seventies Mick joined a band called Telephone Bill and the Smooth Operators, with whom he played until his untimely death. We used rib him about name of the band, "Great name, shame about the..."

Back in the Sixties, before joining The Others, Mick was in a band called the Gnumps. They were offered a stint in Germany. A real rock and roll tour. But Mick's mother stood in the way and said, "Get a real job Michael, go and work for The Irish Press." Mick was lucky, he had a family connection in Burgh Quay his brother Jim worked there as a journalist. And Mick had a passion for sport.

He worked as a soccer reporter and subsequently became assistant sports editor and sports editor of The Sunday Press, a position he held until the Press closed. The demise of the Press devastated Mick. It was only through the help of friends in journalism that Mick managed to pick himself up and get going again. He worked with the Sunday Independent and The Irish Times until he set up, a website dedicated to amateur and professional golf at home and abroad.

As a journalist he had two great qualities he could write well, but more importantly, he could listen. When you were talking to him, you were genuinely the most important person in his world at that time. That twinkle in his eye made many a soccer manager or player tell him more than was planned. Indeed, when we were in the band 30 years ago, that same twinkle worked well in the discos.

He also had a great wit and turn of phrase. A loyal supporter of Manchester United, he remarked when Alex Ferguson signed striker Andy Cole, "They'd have done better signing Paddy Cole!"

He wrote extensively on soccer, covering European Championship and World Cup soccer for a number of years, becoming particularly friendly with Jack Charlton, whose columns he ghosted. He also wrote regularly on pop music and interviewed many of the great stars that played in Ireland.

Recently he began lecturing in journalism in the Dublin Institute of Technology, where, no doubt, he won the hearts and minds of the students.

While he was with The Others, Mick started playing golf. He maintained that soccer was for watching and golf was for playing.In recent years he liked nothing better than to join his son Mark for a game in Greystones GC, just beside his house and where he was a member for many years. He was a great supporter of two media golf societies the Dublin Journalists (who have lost a most capable captain) and the Press Radio & Television Society.

Mick was spoilt rotten by those close to him including his wife Cathy, and his children Suzanne, Mark and Amanda. But he deserved it. He was truly a family man. He got those family values from his long-suffering mother, who always had to rouse him from the bed so he could make it on time to the gig or the soccer match he was covering.

Educated at Oatlands College, Stillorgan, Co Dublin (where his interest in music was nurtured by the vice-principal, Michael Murtagh) and the College of Commerce Rathmines, he met Cathy Burke almost 30 years ago. They both lived in Dundrum, Co Dublin, at the time and moved to Greystones when they married.

Mick Carwood achieved a lot in his short life. He left all of us in the music business and sport with many happy memories. He will be sadly missed.

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