A question of taste: Jack Lyons

Jack Lyons with the late Joey Ramone at Woodstock in 1998.
Jack Lyons

Gurranabraher-based Jack Lyons, 71, is a former postman, busman and cohort of The Who. He is co-curating an exhibition on the Sir Henry’s venue for Cork City Library through August which will be on display from Saturday as part of Cork Heritage Week.

Best recent book: I’m a huge fan of Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse and met him at Oxford. The final book on Morse The Remorseful Day mentions Cork. Dexter signed that particular passage for me.

Best recent film: My grandfather was a landscape artist who studied Constable and Turner so it has to be Mr Turner, directed by the amazing Mike Leigh. Mahon Cineplex. A winter’s night last year. Rode down on my Piaggio Vespa. Popcorn, max size. Medium Coke.

Best recent gig: Hank Wedel on a Sunday evening at the Courtmacsherry Hotel. The man is unreal. He segued from Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Mrs Robinson’ into Bo Diddley’s ‘Private Eye’ and ended with the Who’s ‘Magic Bus’.

What formats do you access music? I hate CDs. Cold, storage, techno sterile feeling. For me it’s got to be a second-hand record shop. There’s nothing better than a slightly warped album that’s playable and with previous owner’s name inside cover, that’s history, new ownership. Once I’ve got it home I’ll play it on my wife Maura’s late mother’s record player. 18 inches by 18, red-matted box with lid, surface mat that’ll take six singles and automatic swing arm. Hi-Fidelity, bought in 1966 and paid for by the week.

Favourite piece of music? Gotta be Quadrophenia. Though I’ll leave the door ajar for Dark Side of The Moon.

Favourite gig ever: Big Audio Dynamite at Sir Henry’s July 10, 1988 with Mick Jones of the Clash as a member. They did their E=MC2 single and the crowd went into a kind of self-induced delirium.

TV viewing: Emmerdale, Coronation Street, EastEnders, Winning Streak, Midsomer Murders, Lewis, Inspector Poirot. Wolf Hall was just sublime.

Name three of your music heroes: Pete Townshend, Paul Linehan and Liam Ó Maonlai.

Best celebrity encounter: Joey Ramone backstage at Woodstock Revisited on August 15, 1998. I stood on the stage aligned to a metre where the 1969 event was. The Who weren’t playing but Pete Townshend was with his studio band. Joey and I chatted a good half an hour. Next day back in New York I phoned and told him I was just down the street in my friend Paddy McCarthy’s bar Nevada Smiths, Joey lived on East 9th street. He said he was too sick and we’d have to drink beer another time. We never did.

Most expensive piece of clothing you ever bought: A leather jacket which cost me six weeks wages. I had to have it because it made me look like a Mod face. It was pure bovine leather and all cut from one piece with curved pockets. I took it to an Italian tailor once in Soho and he said the man who tailored it must have been a master craftsman. The Who were jealous of it. You could smell the leather from me. Still have it.

Tech habits: A temperamental Dell computer desktop and an ancient Nokia phone. Last year gave me cause to shout Eureka! when fiddling around with the ‘controls’ on my Nokia I discovered that if you press your thumb eight times on the letter ‘a’ you will achieve ‘a-fada’. For me, this was a major discovery.

Unsung hero: Joanne O’Riordan, a credit to humanity and whose disability puts everything into perspective. I wrote a letter some years ago to the Echo saying she deserved the freedom of the city. I sent her down a copy but didn’t know her address, so I just put on the envelope Joanne O’Riordan, Wonder Woman, Millstreet. She got it.

You’re king for a day — what’s your first decree? Every street in Gurranabraher is named after a Who song. So, Cathedral Road becomes ‘Happy Jack Way’, St Vincent Street becomes ‘Substitute Avenue’, Templeacre is ‘Magic Bus’, and so on.


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