Picture special: Drummer Niall Power's new book launched in Kilkenny

Johnny Logan and Ronan Collins among guests at event

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

A host of recognisable faces from the music and entertainment industry were in Kilkenny on Tuesday for the launch of a new book of musician and percussionist Niall Power.

Singer Johnny Logan, radio and television presenter Ronan Collins, and award-winning writer Turtle Bunbury were among the guests at the event, which took place in The Field pub. Anecdotes, laughs, and colourful reminisences were in plentiful supply.

Niall estimates in his life he has played with around 140 different bands. He describes the new book - 'Timing is Everything' -as a chronicle of his life, starting from early days in the Curragh, and his interest in the army bands he would regularly see perform as a child.

His professional drumming days came to a premature end a few years ago. Niall was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease in 2008, but continued to drum on for as long as he could. His retirement from the drumset spurred him on to write the book.

He started off in the showband world of the 1970s, with Rob Strong and the Las Vegas Showband. It was only fitting, then, on Thursday, that himself and Rob played a song together - for old time's sake.

"He was my mentor and he taught me everything about being in a band - when I joined, I was only 17," recalls Niall.

It was around that time he became a session drummer in those years - 'a man of many bands', as he would later be described.

"But I always wanted to be in a rock band," he says.

In 1980, he achieved this dream when he linked up with Dublin group 'Stepaside'. He enjoyed success there and later took up with Johnny Logan's band, before moving to England in 1984.

He got a record deal with Irish band 'Les Enfants's, and went on tour playing with Paul Young, among others. It was around that time he met Bob Geldof, and years later - after the Boomtown Rats split in 1986 - he would play with him in the solo band for several years.

The Parkinsons diagnosis, in 2008, was a shock. However, Niall had suspected for a little while that something wasn't quite right, given the demands of serious drumming.

"I had lost speed, and couldn't grip the stick well with my left hand," he says.

"I lasted about four years, and then had to pack it in. I said to Bob, 'I can't do this anymore'.

It was tough on him then. He struggled with boredom - Friday nights stretched out long, with nothing to replace the formerly-hectic schedule. He still occasionally performed, but deciding to write the book gave him renewed purpose.

It's a book full of the sort of memories, names and places on which any musician would be glad to fondly reminisce. Meeting Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg. Live 8 in London's Hyde Park. He event spent three weeks driving David Bowie around - no doubt gleaning one or two insights from the great man.

"I thought I might as well put it all down while I still remember it," says Niall.

Many music fans will be glad he did. It wasn't easy, either - writing. Niall's Parkinsons was a challenge. He wrote the bulk of the book on a tablet, using the index finger of his right hand. It was time consuming, but it worked out; he did it.

Niall's book is available from the Book Centre on High Street in Kilkenny City and online at eprint.ie.