One of Ireland’s most beloved singers, Paddy Casey, has revealed how his obsession with U2 as a teenager put him on the path to stardom.
remembers going to see their Rattle and hum rockumentary 30 times in the cinema when it was released in 1988 – and admits to having stolen a book by Joshua tree music and lyrics from a store to learn the songs, so that he can go and play the street.
In a movie-like twist, Crumlin’s Dubliner Paddy, who left home at 13 and lived on the streets for years, would later go on to support U2 at Croke Park.
“One of the first books I bought from a bookstore to take to the streets was The Joshua Tree Chords and Lyrics,” Paddy tells Sunday World as he prepares to release a new double. album, Turn this ship over.
“I was young, I had no money and I was using the book wisely. But I guess I’ll have to drop the money off at the store now. Joshua tree was definitely a big album in my youth. I remember listening to him a lot. The lyrics are awesome.
“And Rattle and hum was a great movie. I went to see it 30 times in the cinema when I was a kid. I’ve been to the midnight show loads of times. I think it was in the Adelphi. I loved this film.
Paddy built his own career in busting before securing a major recording contract with Sony Music Ireland and releasing his debut album in 1999. He also signed with U2’s Principle Management.
The popular artist today sings the praises of rock superstar Bono, whom he knew during those early years.
“Bono was a very nice man to work with, and that’s God’s honest truth,” Paddy says. “I’ve never seen him bitchy. I never saw him do what we did to him. He gets a lot of terrible stick. I do not know why ; people have their reasons, I guess. I think he’s fine. I think he’s a good guy. Maybe I missed something, maybe I did, I don’t know.
“But in all the dealings I had with Bono, he was a gentleman, more than most I would say. And I don’t think it’s just because he’s famous. It’s a real Dub in a weird way. He has that kind of sincerity, except people don’t like his speeches.
As Paddy’s own career took off, he then found himself rubbing shoulders with American music royalty Beyoncé and Jay-Z in New York City in 2003.
“It was the opening of a bar they were partners in,” Paddy recalls. “And it was just me, my tour director, my keyboardist and Jay Z and Beyonce sitting around the table drinking a few pints.
“One of the other guys involved in the bar asked me to take my guitar down because he attended one of my concerts. I sang a few songs from Prince, Blackstreet’s No diggity, and one of mine. It’s all a little blurry now, but I remember Beyoncé being very calm and the two of them were very low key, they weren’t dressed like Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
In his twilight years, when he relaxes in his rocking chair, Casey will have some incredible memories to think about. “It’s a great way to make a living,” he admits.
“There are no real difficulties. It’s hard every now and then, but it’s nothing compared to what other people have to go through in life. You don’t break your nerves all day for someone else. And it’s a job you feel good to do, rather than wanting to get out of it.
“If I can make a living doing this for the rest of my life, I’ll be happy. It doesn’t have to be an amazing life, just enough to keep me on the sidelines because there’s not really much to want in the world unless you’re Elon Musk and you literally wanted all the space for you.
Casey says he never got carried away by the fame that accompanied his success at the height of his career. “Any type of celebrity is a mirage,” he tells me. “You’re getting there and it’s not what you thought.
“I would be lying if I said when I was a kid I didn’t want to be famous. But the success was very weird for me, it was kinda unbelievable in my head. I couldn’t understand why people kept coming to my shows or why the album was selling so well.
“I have never had bad experiences. People would watch, smile and say hello, and it was usually only at night with a few drinks that they would come and chat with you. I’ve always found most people to be cool.
Paddy’s daughter, Saoirse, from a previous relationship, has followed him into the business and is a successful singer-songwriter herself.
“Saoirse is a prolific songwriter,” he says proudly. “She’s a little shy, but I was also incredibly shy at first.
“I used to drink a few pints before going on stage when I started playing because of the shyness. In that sense, we’re probably both slightly more shy than the average musician.
Paddy Casey’s new album, Turn This Ship Around, will be released on August 6th.