Henry Cluney (Ex-Stiff Little Fingers)

At The Mike Stand With Henry Cluney

Lucky we’re not short of forward-slashes, for if we were, Henry Cluney, the singer/songwriter/survivor/guitarist/punk-rocking Belfast boy could well use them all up such is the variety of talents at the man’s disposal. Henry, a founding member of legendary Irish punk act Stiff Little Fingers, is a busy man these days, what with the whole singing/songwriting/surviving/punking (ahem) thing, but he still agreed to answer a few incredibly nosey questions for us ‘At The Mike Stand’.

Having played with SLF from the band’s humble beginnings in Ulster, through its glory days of the late ’70s and early ’80s until it’s split in 1983, Henry rejoined his reunited bandmates for a number of years, before his departure from the group in 1994. Known for classic tracks such as ‘Alternative Ulster’, ‘Gotta Getaway’, ‘Suspect Device’, ‘Barbed Wire Love’ and ‘Wasted Life’, Stiff Little Fingers (Henry, Jake Burns, Jim Reilly and Ali McMordie in its original lineup) were at the forefront of the punk movement in the north of Ireland in the mid to late ’70s. We could go on, but, there’re questions need answerin’. Henry, welcome to ‘At The Mike Stand’.

What would you like your own tribute act to be called?
The best name I ever heard for a tribute band was a Stiff Little Fingers tribute act, called ‘A Tribute to SeLF’.

When’s the last time you laughed out loud?
Last night I was watching a show about Scottish football, I’m always laughing out loud watching that!

What act would you like to have seen perform live?
T-Rex, that would have been my be all and end all. I never got a chance to see them live.

What team(s) do you support?

What period in history would you most like to have visited?
I think somewhere around medieval times.

What song would you most like to have written?
I would say, just for financial reasons alone, something like ‘White Christmas’ or ‘Happy Birthday’!

Who or what, would make you leave a room?
Probably one of those dancing shows, I don’t even know what they’re called. I just can’t swallow it, so if someone wanted to watch that, I’d have to be on my way!

What decade rules (and why)?
The ’70s, you know, growing up with all that, the music, the glam and punk stuff, you know?

What cover version do you most enjoy performing?
Probably ‘Johnny Was’.

What movie role would you like to have played/play?
I think, Don Corleone, in The Godfather.

Have you ever been told you looked like somebody?
Oh dear, when I was about eighteen, people used to say I looked like Woody from the Bay City Rollers!

What’s the first album you remember buying?
This is controversial, but it might have been Gary Glitter’s first album! The first one I actually remember buying was T-Rex’s ‘Ride A White Swan’. Yeah, that’s the first one I actually bought, I think the Gary Glitter one was a present!

Who’s your favorite Beatle? 
I never really had one, but, because, the only post-Beatles solo album I ever had, was ‘Band on the Run’, by Wings, I suppose Paul.

What’s your favorite Christmas song?
‘Oh Holy Night’, as sung by Cartman from ‘South Park’!

Who’s the most rock and roll person who ever lived?
Lemmy. I go see Motorhead whenever they’re over here, I mean, the guy’s what, sixty-something? He’s great.

What artist/song/genre do you secretly enjoy listening to?

I’m so tempted to say Gary Glitter, but I won’t! I’ve always loved the early Beach Boys stuff. I mean it’s such great pop music. Most of the Beach Boys throughout their career made such great music, not normally the type of stuff I’d like.

Who would you most like to meet/have met?
For some reason I’ve always wanted to meet Neil Armstrong; music-wise, probably David Bowie.

What book can you read again and again?
The best book I ever read was ‘Diary of a Rock and Roll Star’ by Ian Hunter, the singer with Mott The Hoople. I’ve read that many times, it came out in about 1972. It was such a good book, not just a great rock and roll book.

What’s the greatest album ever recorded?
For me, it would be ‘The Slider’ by T-Rex, or ‘Ziggy Stardust’, by David Bowie.

What artists would be in your supergroup?
That would be Marc Bolan, John Bonham on drums, probably Johnny Ramone on guitar, then, who’d you put on bass, how about Lemmy?!

What sitcom character can you most identify with?
The one I really like, you know Chandler from ‘Friends’? I love the lines he gets, though but just because of the way I am, I’d have to say Homer Simpson!

What movie can you watch over and over again?
‘The Wizard of Oz’. Every Christmas it’s on, I recently picked up the DVD, I’ve not watched it, but I could sit through it!

Who’s your favorite cartoon character?
You know, I’ve always been in love with Daphne from ‘Scooby Doo’, then lately, of course, there’s Peter Griffin (from ‘Family Guy’), but I have to say Daphne, because she was my first love!

What’s the greatest place you’ve visited?
Tokyo. I just love the people there.

What’s mankind’s most wonderful invention?
The electric guitar of course.

What’s mankind’s most irritating invention?
Again, the electric guitar, it can be used for good or evil!

Who’s the funniest person who ever lived?
One guy who never fails to make me laugh, is Frankie Boyle. My favorite ever since I was six or seven though, is Eric Morecambe.

Who’s your favorite namesake?

Being an Arsenal fan, I’m thinking Thierry Henry! There’s not many Henrys, the poor people!

Who’s your favorite character from literature?
You know, this is going to sound so la-di-da, but one of my favorites is ‘The Merchant of Venice’. I always hated school, but I loved Shakespeare, so I’m going to go with a character from that, Shylock.

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