Chevron (born Philip Ryan) will be known to most for his work as guitarist with the Pogues. He joined them in 1985 for their second album Rum, Sodomy & the Lash, and later contributed songs such as ‘Thousands Are Sailing’ and ‘If I Should Fall From Grace With God’.
But Chevron had an earlier career as lead singer and primary songwriter with Dublin punk outfit the Radiators from Space.
It was with their second album, 1979’s Ghostown, that the Radiators — no longer from Space — found their voice. As befitted a collection of songs chronicling the experience of growing up in recession-hit Dublin, Ghostown was something of a doomed romance. On its release it was critically acclaimed but sold poorly. The band soon split up.
Ghostown was, loosely speaking, a concept album. Produced by David Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, its influences ranged from punk to glam rock to Irish balladry and Berlin cabaret. Chevron’s outstanding contributions included ‘Song of the Faithful Departed’ (later covered by Christy Moore), and ‘Kitty Ricketts’, originally penned for Agnes Bernelle.
The album was rereleased in 1989, with extra tracks including ‘Under Clery’s Clock’, which Chevron had written on growing up gay.
In 2003, Chevron reformed the band as the Radiators (Plan 9), and they released two albums.
Chevron was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2007. By 2008, he had recovered sufficiently to tour with the Pogues once more. But in May this year, Chevron announced that the cancer had returned and was inoperable.
Chevron’s passing may yet alert a new generation to the lost masterpiece that was Ghostown. It should have launched a brilliant band on the international scene but serves instead to remind us that success does not always come to those who best deserve it.
Philip Chevron (June 17, 1957 – October 8, 2013).