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09 Dec 2021

Starjets tribute to Lyra McKee set to top the charts

Irish punk rockers pen song about journalist who was killed covering a riot in Derry

Starjets tribute to Lyra McKee set to top the charts

"Legendary Girl" by The Starjets - a tribute to the late Lyra McKee - is out now.

A song dedicated to journalist, Lyra McKee, is currently on course to be a number one smash.

“Legendary Girl” by The Starjets is climbing high on the Heritage Charts and could well be 'top of the pops' by the end of the week.

If The Starjets sound familiar to those of a certain age, then they should as they were part of the North's punk-scene in the late 70s with the band being contemporaries of Stiff Little Fingers and Derry's own The Undertones.

The Belfast quartet scored a hit in 1979 with “War Stories” – a song covered by multi-million selling US rock band, Green Day last year which propelled The Starjets back amongst the big time.

Their song about Lyra, who was killed in 2019 when covering a riot in the Creggan area of Derry, is the fourth song in a tribute to women who were killed while still young – the other three being about journalist Veronica Guerin, Princess Diana and Palestinian rights activist Rachel Corrie.

While singer and guitarist, Paul Bowen, hopes to get the song out to a wider audience, there is one person he hopes the song will reach – Sara Canning who was the late Lyra's partner.

Paul said: “I wrote this song of May 2019, a month after Lyra was killed.

The Starjets perform a live version of "Legendary Girl", a song about journalist Lyra McKee who was killed in Derry two years ago

“It's part of a four-song cycle about women who were murdered or died in a tragic accident – two of them being about Irish journalists.

“Lyra being one and Veronica Guerin being the other. The other two women were Princess Diana and Rachel Corrie.

“The song about Lyra has received a huge amount of radio interest all over the world in places like Australia, Germany, Holland, California and the UK itself. It's sitting high in two of the UK's independent charts.

“The song about Lyra is up against some strong competition in the Heritage Chart.

“We're up against Rod Stewart, Diana Ross and Billy Idol – we are minnows compared to them.

“We're a small band from Belfast – a blip on the horizon – from the old punk era.

“There was an exceptional turn of events during lockdown last year when Green Day recorded one of our songs, 'War Stories', which we had a minor hit with back in 1979.

The Starjets on BBC show, Top Of The Pops, in 1979 performing "War Stories" which was covered by Green Day last year

“A tsunami of goodwill came our way after that. We didn't think anybody knew who we were but there's emails coming in and posts being put up on social media.

“The former Radio 1 DJ, Mike Read – who had championed us back in the day – phoned me up and asked if I had any songs as he had started the Heritage Chart for older artists who do not get played on commercial daytime radio as much.

“I said I had a song about George Best, called 'Geordie Best' and I sent it to Mike and it reached number one in that chart back in January.

“I'm grateful for that and I'm also very grateful for all the interest the song about Lyra McKee has generated.

“One of my main goals was to get the song to Lyra's partner, Sara Canning because I think she would appreciate it – I hope she would.

“I didn't know Lyra personally but I knew of her. I knew she signed a deal with a Faber & Faber and that she was high-profile.

“Apart from the film that has just been shown at the Belfast Film Festival, there's very little footage of her. Her life was so short.”

Paul Bowen and Terry Sharpe, right, still rocking with The Starjets having first burst onto the scene in the late 70s

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