As 2014 marks the 20 year anniversary of Oasis’ classic debut album Definitely Maybe, former guitarist Paul ‘Bonehead’ Arthurs has spoken about the significance of the band’s Irish roots.
During the 1960s several Irish families travelled to Manchester and other English cities to find work during a boom in the construction industry.
All five original members of the Manchester band come from Irish families. Bonehead believes that the culture they grew up in with so many Irish immigrants living in the north of England was vital to the band’s attitude and sound.
He told the Irish Post: “We were five lads off the street. I get asked that a lot; ‘what is it about Manchester and Liverpool bringing out such great music?’ and my answer is the same, Celtic blood. It really is that, it’s the only explanation.
“It’s working class people from strong Irish backgrounds making music. My mother was from the west of Ireland in Mayo, a place called Swinford which is literally a few miles from Noel and Liam’s grandparents. My dad was from the North, about 30 miles south of Belfast.”
Members of Oasis heard a lot of Irish music as they were growing up but Bonehead says they didn’t set out be a traditional Irish band. However, he believes that bands like Sweeney’s Men had an unconscious influence on their sound as well as more obvious influences like the Beatles, the Sex Pistols and the Stone Roses.
Oasis’ main song writer Noel Gallagher also believes the band’s Irish upbringing was a key element to their music. He said that Definitely Maybe was: “the sound of five second generation Irish Catholics coming out of a council estate.”
Singer Liam Gallagher once said: “From my point of view you have to try that bit harder with the Irish thing or if you’re Scottish; you’ve got to dig deep because everything revolves around England. My mates, the lads that were English had everything on a plate.”
Oasis were not the first band from Manchester made up of Irish immigrants to achieve great success. The Smiths blazed a trail in the 1980s and are considered one of the most influential bands in English music. Singer Morrissey is the cousin of Republic of Ireland soccer legend Robbie Keane.