Cult songwriter and singer with London punk band Stump

Mick Lynch: October 11th, 1959 - December 17th, 2015

 

Mick Lynch, who has died aged 56, was a gifted songwriter, actor and satirist who fronted the London punk band Stump, which gained cult status in the 1980s for its quirky performances and lyrics.

He wrote in both Irish and English for Cork’s Dowtcha Puppet theatre, which is known for the high quality of its original shows.

Paying tribute to his achievements as a musician, the online music magazine Louder than War said: “He will be remembered for his musical passion, quirky Cork world view, stage presence that oozed his natural warmth and his inquisitive and intelligent nature that saw him deliver songs that made the weird wonderful and the surreal into wonk pop and also that wonderful asymmetric Tin Tin haircut.”

Though born in Limerick, Lynch always considered himself a Cork man as the family had moved there in the early 1960s. Schooled at Douglas Community College and the Cork School of Art, he was a bright student, widely read and interested in music and drama from an early age. A fan of Myles na gCopaleen, he brought the zany world of The Third Policeman with him when he went to London in 1983.

It was by a stroke of good fortune that he became a founder member of the Irish-English punk rock band Stump. The story goes that the drummer, Rob McKahey, a fellow Corkman, remembered that Lynch was in London when he and the bassist Kev Hopper, along with guitarist Chris Salmon, were trying to form a band. Their first session was a meeting of minds. Not only did Lynch coin the band’s name, he also became its frontman, gaining a reputation as a writer of distinctive lyrics.

Charlton Heston

He composed Stump’s best known songs, including Tupperware Stripper, Buffalo and Charlton Heston, a favourite of indie and punk rock aficionados which opens with the zany but unforgettable refrain: “ Charlton Heston / Put his vest on” and has a rhythm track of croaking frogs and idiosyncratic lyrics which never fail to make one smile.

Lacking a recording contract, in 1986 Stump self-released a mini-LP, Quirk Out, which soared up the Indie Charts to No 2 , selling more than 50,000 copies during a remarkable 26-week run.

This debut album caught the ear of BBC DJ John Peel, who championed Stump in the UK, while RTÉ’s Dave Fanning played it regularly on his late night show.

In 1987, Lynch featured on the cover of Melody Maker and the following year Stump’s full LP A Fierce Pancake, including the tracks Living It Down and Heartache was highly rated by the critics.

Return to Cork

When the band ran out of steam in the early 1990s, Lynch returned to Cork and in recent years had turned to writing satirical songs about everyday life, people, places and events, performing as “Don for Chickens” – Don is a Cork card game – at a number of folk venues.

An original thinker, Lynch was also intimately involved with productions of the Dowtcha Puppet theatre.

An old friend, Cónal Creedon, playwright and novelist, recalled on social media meeting him by chance in Clonakilty in recent months.

Lynch told him that he and Stump had regrouped and asked would he like to hear the finished set of their last jam session? “That’s an offer you can’t refuse. So I sat there in the back room of the Clonakilty Bar in private audience with Stump - as they ripped it up - their full rep - one classic after the next. What can I say – Dowtcha – Mick, boy!”

Mick Lynch is survived by his sisters Julie Anne, Marie and Noreen.