MUSICIAN Mick Coleman has put his admiration for National Health Service staff into song.
The 74-year-old from Gee Cross has reworked his number one hit Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs, a tribute to his artist hero LS Lowry, to celebrate the work of NHS workers during the coronavirus crisis.
Mick said: “When I look at the heroes around today, for me it is the nurses and carers, and everybody who is on the front line.
“It is a tribute to all the people out there grafting. I have got a lot of respect for them.
“They are all out on the front line. At least I am locked up, locked up here with my guitar.”
The chorus of the new version is: “Give three cheers to the good old NHS, they’re working hard to get us all out of this mess, let’s help them win the fight, cos’ they’re working day and night.”
And Mick’s personal tribute, posted on Facebook by daughter Tamlah, has to his surprise suddenly gone viral.
However, Mick’s admiration for the NHS goes back 20 years, long before Covid-19, when his wife Dheveranee received a liver transplant when a match was found when she had been given only 48 hours to live.
He said: “I was sat at home in lockdown when somebody sent me a message congratulating me on the 42nd anniversary of the number one hit.
“It brought it back to mind and while I was rehearsing at home for gigs it set me thinking.
“I am so full of respect for the NHS staff that I sat down and wrote new lyrics the new song in about 10 minutes.
“I sent it to my daughter to put on Facebook and it has snowballed.
“The comments I have received have been really nice and I am pleased it has made people happy at this time.”
Mick is hoping it will also inspire the public to donate to the NHS and the Peter Quinn Friendship and Dementia Group, which is based in Levenshulme.
He and brother Tim – their group is ‘Me And Our Kid’ – put on monthly gigs free of charge.
Mick, who worked as a boner at the Walls food plant at Godley while his fledgling music career took off, said: “I have lived in the fast lane and been all around the world since the age of 17.
“I have stopped doing that and now is the time to give something back to the community.
“The group has no funding and carers pay for petrol in their own cars to bring patients to the gigs which are for people who suffer from dementia. We play 1960s hits and the best therapy in music.”
Mick and Tim also play care homes in Romiley and Marple and the Royal National Institute of Blind People at Rochdale.
He had held a lifelong admiration for the NHS.
Mick explained: “When I was born, NHS staff were stood around my bed when I took my first breath and they probably will also be when I take my last.
“My wife had a transplant and would not have been here but for the NHS.
“They do a great job and we see every day, especially at this time, their dedication. This was my way of thanking them.”
Mick added would love a massive massive gig to be held in Manchester to raise money for the NHS.
He said: “It is a dream to do something like Live Aid, but with Manchester bands Oasis, Happy Mondays and Stone Roses.
“I would love to be involved in that, perhaps as compere and come on a do a couple of songs.”
Mick revealed the original hit, which was performed by the duo Brian and Michael featuring Mick and Kevin Parrott, was written in half an hour on the back of a cigarette packet.
It spent three weeks at number one in April 1978.
He said: “I had always admired Lowry because his paintings depicted the streets where I lived and how they dressed. I always had an affinity to him, even before he was famous.
“When I wrote in the lyrics about Ancoats and Salford, nobody people from outside Manchester didn’t know where they were.”
Mick and Kevin had other chart success as writers/producers, notably St Winifred’s School choir’s number one hit ‘There’s No One Quite Like Grandma’ in 1980.
There were also ‘The Sparrow’ (The Ramblers, No 11 in 1979), and Claire and Friends‘ ‘It’s ‘Orrible Being in Love when You’re Eight and a Half’ (Number 13 in 1986).
Mick also wrote the hit song ‘Hold My Hand’ for Ken Dodd.
- When Mick joined Gee Cross neighbours for the weekly applause for NHS staff at 8pm each Thursday, there was a surprise on April 16 when he played the new rendition of the number one hit as a well as a medley of songs to lift spirits.
He erected a sound and lighting system in his front garden and entertained about 30 neighbours, including many from a nearby complex for the elderly.
Mick added one of the only positives from coronavirus has been the way communities have come together in adversity.
He said: “It reminds me as a young lad growing up in Ancoats. When a neighbour came out of hospital, I was told to go across the road to Mrs Blakey’s and offer to do errands for her.
“We helped everyone and there was a community, and we are seeing that spirit again.”
- Watch Mick’s Matchstick Men tribute to the NHS here: https://www.facebook.com/tamlah.coleman.7/videos/1420984601418429/