Irish Music Central - Mic Christopher - Biography

Biography

An article from Mic Christopher's web-site...

Mic Christopher was born in the Bronx, New York on Sep. 21 1969 to Irish parents. In 1972 they moved back to Dublin, Ireland. Mic says that his first guitar was a toy one at the age of 2 or 3 and from then on he knew what he wanted to do…… he wanted to be Elvis. Having an all-Irish school upbringing, Mic played trad music with school groups and others until around fifteen when he started busking………

Mic was a busker in Dublin for about five years ( first as a banjo player ) where he met numerous people that he would play with over the years. These included Karl Odlum ( Mary Janes ), David Odlum and Glen Hansard of The Frames, among many many others. Mic was also a busker in London for about a year…

In 1990 Mic formed the band, the Mary Janes with former Kila bass player and fellow busker, Karl Odlum, guitarist, Simon good and Steven Hogan on drums. Over the next nine years The Mary Janes played together in three different guises. Firstly with Steven on drums and then after he left the band stayed together and recorded their first album ( Bored Of Their Laughing ) as a three piece without drums. In 1994 the Mary Janes signed a publishing deal with Warner Chappell and in ’96 the band acquired the drumming talents of Mark Stanley from Australia and went on to record their second album Sham in ’98. Over the years The Mary Janes played everywhere from Feile and the Fleadh in Ireland, to Glastonbury festival in England, to the CMJ in New York. Ultimately finishing with a six week stint in Bosnia with the WarChild charity organization.

The Mary Janes finally split in 1999 and Mic embarked on a three month solo tour of Victoria, Australia. In the autumn of 2001 Mic, having recovered from a bad motorbike accident, released his own Heyday EP. There was plenty more to come, and the Waterboys tour made it seem like the whole thing had come full circle.

An accident happened on November 18th in Groningen, Holland where the Dublin singer-songwriter was supporting The Waterboys. On arrival at a local hospital, Christopher was found to have lapsed into a coma, as a result of severe swelling to the brain. He never regained consciousness. Mic tragically passed away on 29 November 2001.

Mic was writing new material with a view to releasing a new album. Family and friends worked to get his album "Skylarkin" released on November 29 2002.

 

Glen Hansard's tribute to Mic:

Troubadour Mic Christopher died last week (December '01) in the AZG Hospital, Groningen. My best friend ... Three weeks ago tonight, he fell over and banged his head. It was as simple as that. In the past days, his family, friends and I have been through every single emotion. Panic gives way to sadness, gives way to anger, gives way to determination ... to hope... and back again. There were days when it looked like he was pulling through and others when it seemed hopeless. He has fought very hard in his silence to demonstrate the fighter, the lover of life that we knew so well, but for some unattainable reason, he didn't come back this time. "We are like flies on the roof of the Sistine Chapel, we have no idea of the angels and beauty that lay beneath our feet". Only through the distance that accompanies time, will we begin to see the patterns and reasons why things are as they are today. Suddenly everything is precious: the last time we spoke, the text message still on my phone ("Where's me mate?"), the photographs, the shared lyrics, the borrowed clothes, the plectrum in my pocket ... But much more than that.... much more.... the knowing that flowed between two friends, the understandings, the shared goals, the arguments and the resolve.

I've known Mic since I was fifteen. I'd been busking on Grafton St. for about a year and was beginning to become comfortable with the idea of becoming a street musician. The money was pretty spare but that was never why we did it. While busking one Saturday, I met this lad about my own age with a guitar. He was pretty cool and I was quite intimidated. He watched me for a while before coming to say hello. The next week we busked together for the first time. We were mates straight off. That was the year that changed our lives - 1985. I had come from living and attending school in Ballymun, moving in small circles of friends, that all lived on the same block as me to this... My new best friend from Clondalkin ("Where the fuck is that?). Our guardian and guru, Pete Short, who then sold "In Dublin", outside Bewleys, he was from Leeds and went to school with Brian Jones! Tom McGinty, (the Diceman), Patrick Healy, Kila, a bunch of kids from the southside who played amazing traditional music, Mark Dignam, our closest partner from Finglas, poetry readings, the Coffee Inn, Mannix Flynn, Pablo - suddenly our world was much bigger and full of a huge variety of characters.

We grew fast and absorbed the beauty of these unravelling circles all around us, not to mention the Krishna's, the Born-Again's, the mystics and witches. Our common sense and friendship were the buffer to their magnetism. So of course we moved in together. We rented a tiny two room in Harcourt St. above the Harcourt Hotel. The front door had no lock and everyday, all day, people moved through our place: leaving instruments off or just killing time. Tea, Songs, spliffs, songs, sleep, songs, golden days when romance was everything. Two kings stalling into town, giants, wide eyed and willing. We lived there for two years or so. Often, after a Saturday's busking, there could be up to fifty people, all up our stairs in our flat, playing songs, smoking, crashing out, and often myself and Mic would give each other the nod and quietly slip out, leaving the madness to go stay at a friend's house or sit in the Manhattan until the crowd dissipated. There are still four micro dots hidden in that flat somewhere, ( never hide it when your on it ) Mic fell in love with Sharon, a girl from Dundalk and told me he was going to live in London for a while. So we left the flat late one night to avoid outstanding rent. He jumped on a boat and I went my ma's.

I visited him on and off over the next year or so. In Mic's absence, the Frames was born and the big record deal, the Commitments etc. Things were good for me, but I was missing my mate. In a way this was good for us both. We needed to find our own way, apart, so that when we got together again, it would be even better than before. There was a tendency with us both to co-depend. When we were together, we wanted nothing but the moment and it was healthy to be apart for a while to address our own ambitions. When Mic finally returned to Dublin, things had moved on. I was making my first album, the singer in my own band and Mic had also been through so much. He'd been working as a chef in the Krishna temple in London and was a lay devotee. His heart had been broken and he needed to be home. All his songs addressed spiritual questions, set in Hindu beliefs. We had so much to talk about, so much to catch up on. Shortly after returning, Mic formed the Mary Janes, with old friend Karl Odlum and Simon Goode. This was an electric time for Mic. He was back in Dublin, doing his thing. We were mates again, although it wasn't the same as before. We were now in different bands and though we both agreed it was a good thing, we secretly planned to play together again (and we knew we would). The Mary Janes were going for it, as were the Frames. Both bands crossed paths and played on the same stages a hundred times or more; either us supporting them or them supporting us, it didn't matter.

This was the time I saw Mic least. With both bands playing all the time, we rarely got together, except for the odd chat or walk in Howth. Mic had always wanted to work with kids and when the Mary Janes had the opportunity to go to Bosnia during the troubles to work with WarChild, Mic got very excited. They spent about two months out there, in which time Mic worked along with other aid workers in the children's unit, doing Art Therapy. This was a joy to him and he was very sad to leave his little friends. When he returned, he was full of amazing stories and his heart was full of love for the kids he had worked with. I think he secretly longed to go back.

Some time passed.... We'd both been though the mill; the major labels hiring and firing. We'd made a few albums each and the struggle to fill gigs, to make it make sense and to carry on was getting harder. " The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side" (Hunter S. Thompson) . The Frames had managed somehow to sustain a healthy audience and were beginning to think more independently, striking out on our own and getting more comfortable with it and although the Mary Janes had been thinking this way for a long time already, the constant battling and highs and lows of D.I.Y eventually got to Mic and he called it a day in 1999. At this time, Mic also split with tish, his girlfriend of eight years. So Mic was heartbroken again; no band and no trust in the music industry. He was turning thirty and riding a motorcycle for a living, as a courier, not playing music and slowly giving up ... when the life-changer happened... An intersection, a car, a wrong reflex, and a miracle.... Mic broke his neck and survived. He was very lucky. He spent the next three months in traction, an unflattering cast that covered his whole head and shoulders. During this time, he was housebound and could hardly move. This was when everything changed.... Instead of giving in and lying down, Mic wrote his most powerful songs to date. His words were about living and the importance of positivity.

This was a Mic I'd never seen. He had always had a positive outlook, but this was shaman-like power. This accident had been a huge shot across the bow. It seems now, thinking back, that may have been his time to go, but somehow, he negotiated his way out of it, saying 'I have unfinished business I need to attend to - give me more time'. The reason I say this, is because in the last year of Mic's life, he had come full circle. He had dropped old hurts, contacted old friends, re-connected with those he had not spoken with in years. And then there was me and him, Mic and Glen. We were right back where we began, except now the world was smaller than ever. We spent most of the year touring Europe and the U.S. Just two lads and two guitars. It was what we'd always talked about; hitting the road, growing beards, drinking wine and kissing girls ... the troubadours.... This was better than anything else. This was bigger than the Frames, the Mary Janes. It felt so right. This year we had played in Ireland, England, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and America. Recently, in Vienna, we had decided to make a record together. We had begun to write the bones of the ideas for this. All was good, we were best mates and that was that.

On our return from Austria, there was an e-mail in my computer form Mike Scott. I had sent him "Heyday", Mic's E.P., and he replied, raving about mic's songs and his voice. Mike offered Mic the Waterboys European tour. If anybody knew me and Mic, this was a very big deal. Of course, Mic was thrilled to be invited along. He was proud as could be about his big adventure and we talked for days about it until soon it came to the day Mic was leaving. We had re-pressed with a new sleeve design and Harry and Vaun, Mic's parent's had bought him a suitcase with wheels. He packed six hundred c.d.'s in there, a change of clothes, bought some credit for his phone and he was off. We hugged at his front door. I wished him luck and we promised to stay in touch by phone. He called every few days, raving down the phone at how much he was enjoying himself. He was sleeping on the crew bus and thought this was just great. I would get texts every day, like: "Brixton Academy- One, Mic- Ten! Or " How cool is this?!" and sometimes, " Vsetko je v poriabku!" (Slovak for 'it's all good'). Mic was out doing what he loved. His life was good. He would say, "Every day is a blessing" and he meant it.

Mic played in Groningen, Holland on November 16th. He had a great gig and sold more c.d.'s that night than any other night on the tour. He went for a few beers after the show and simply slipped on some steps. It could have happened anywhere, at any time. I'm just glad we got that week to sit with him, sing to him and say our goodbyes. I will never get over this and there's nothing that could have prepared me for the loss I feel, it's the simple things that will hurt most, like who to go for breakfast with, or who to talk to about the small things, our friendship will never die, or be replaced.. it will go on.. I remember sitting with Maureen, Harry, Vaun, milky and Donal, as the machines were turned off, and feeling an overwhelming sense of peace and resolve as my friend moved on to somewhere new.. the whole time we we're there it felt like we we're with him, and once he passed it then felt like he was with us.. and it's been that way since.. Mic died a handsome young rover, he left no debts and no anger, just a lot of great memories and beautiful songs and a friendship that will never diminish. He lived as a poet and died as one, and I will never fear death again because I know when it's my time, my friend will be waiting to show me around. We saw too much beauty to be cynical, felt too much joy to be dismissive, climbed too many mountains to be quitters, kissed too many girls to be deceivers, saw too many sunrises not to be believers, broke too many strings to be pro's and gave too much love to be concerned where it goes...."

by Glen Hansard