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The Christie Hennessy Legacy

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Tim and Amber Ross are on our show today to talk about their late father Christie Hennessy and his posthumous album 'A Friend of Mine'.

Qoute from Universal music
"Following the resounding success of his duets album, 'The Two of Us', the second posthumous album release from the late singer/songwriter Christie Hennessy, entitled 'A FRIEND OF MINE' is out on 30th October.

The story of Christie Hennessy's life is almost the stuff of legend. Born in 1945, the youngest of nine children and with his Father dying just before his fifth birthday, Christie's start in life was not easy. Having never been able to read and write successfully, he left school at the age of eleven to work as a messenger boy in Tralee. At fifteen years of age Christie then immigrated to England to work on building sites as a painter and decorator.

His hunger for music in all forms was sated on the London scene, and in his late teens through early twenties he emerged as a drummer. Taking up the guitar at this time also enabled Christie to work out the chords to the songs he was composing. When he took his songs onto stage to perform in folk clubs he was immediately booked for gigs - and the rest of this man's colourful life has gone down in modern Irish music history.

The album concept of 'A Friend of Mine' has been crafted with great care by his family - from selecting suitable tracks from old tapes and DATs and material recorded by Christie in the months prior to his passing; providing duet, backing vocals and instrumental backing - to the tasteful and sympathetic production by his son, Tim Ross.

In preparing for this, Tim spent many months just listening to the Christie Hennessy back catalogue of recordings (no mean feat for a newly bereaved son). Faithful in the production which pays tribute to his Father's style and musical treatment, each song carries the true essence of the unique man's creativity.

For Christie's family it has been a complete labour of love as finishing this album is what Christie would have done had he been here, so it was important to them to fulfil his final wishes. The force of needing to record new songs and finish two albums kept Christie strong and motivated, right up until his final day.

Both Hennessy fans and newcomers alike will be enthralled by the famous Kerryman's distinctive soft voice and the haunting lyrics in his songs. Some of them are strangely prophetic as in 'Every time a Star Falls'.

Christie's great songwriting craft stayed as strong as ever in his last months, as is borne out in these recordings.

The first track ,'A Friend of mine' is a tribute to that wonderful friendship bond within the human father/son relationship, which can develop in life for those that are lucky to find it - 'It don't matter what you do kid, you'll always be a friend of mine'.....
In his usual tradition, Christie sings love songs aplenty - 'If I told you', 'When I was young', 'Where lovers go'. 'Every time a star falls', 'Get down you blues' and 'The other side', all contain elements of the recognition that we are not immortal on this earth, just mere human beings with many inner battles to negotiate in our lives.
'Write a song' holds deepest thoughts on human emotions and 'Winter in the city' is another Hennessy 'pictures in song'. It is about the many busy happenings on a city street in winter time - Christie's favourite time of year.

Christie Hennessy's great gift for crafting songs and singing them stayed as strong as ever in his last months, borne out in these recordings.
His unique presentation of the colourful tapestry of words woven throughout the stories within each of his songs remains unchanged - as ever".

Christie Hennessy is immortalized in a bronze statue erected in the town square of his home town, Tralee, Co. Kerry. The statue is by renowned sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby, whose previous work includes Duke Ellington in Soho Square and Sylvia Plath in Smith College, Massachusetts, USA. It was unveiled infront of over 800 people. Christie Moore - Christie's great friend said to the Irish times that "Christie was always extremely generous with his songs and was the kindest, warmest, most beautiful man I ever encountered".

Christie's Legacy
The following legendary Irish artists all attained their first No.1's covering Christie's songs.

Christy Moore - "Don't Forget Your Shovel"
Frances Black - "All The Lies That You Told Me"
Moya Brennan - "Oh Jealous Heart"
Nizlopi attained their first No.1 ("JCB Song") sampling some of Christie's lyrics from "Don't Forget Your Shovel" (Xmas single 2005 - UK & Ireland)

Other hits from Christie Hennesy:-
'A Year in The Life
Lord of Your Eyes
The Box
This is As Far As I Go

Christie was the Patron to the Irish charity "Children in Crossfire". His special focus was on the schools literacy programmes, as Christie himself was unable to read or write.

In December 2007 he died from Cancer thought to be a result of asbestos poisoning contracted during his years working on building sites. He was 62.

In 2008 The Two of Us was released posthumously. Christie said about the album before his death
"'This album didn't start out as a duets album. John Themis and I wrote a song we felt would be suitable for Christy Moore, Luka Bloom and myself to sing for a fantastic cause, the charity 'Children in Crossfire'.

I had a great day recording with Christy and Luka in the studio in Dublin. Though we never expected the single to grow from that into a duets album... When he heard the track, I was asked by Dave Pennefather from Universal Music Ireland if I'd ever thought about making a duets album. It sounded great, so he told me to pick all the artists that I'd like to work with - artists that would mean something to me and my songs. So firstly, I'd like to say thanks to him for making this happen and secondly, a massive big hug and thanks to everyone who gave their time and their art for this album."

A Friend of Mine was released on the 30th of October 2009.