3 May 2014
“He was a trusted friend, one of the very few I have ever had in the music press, and I will miss him greatly RIP Harry. Rock On – Brian May”, pictured above with Harry
Harry Doherty’s career in journalism took him from the horror of Bloody Sunday as a young reporter to the euphoria of Live Aid as one of England’s most respected music writers.
A friend to some of the biggest names in rock music, the 61-year-old was particularly close to Queen and was chosen by the band to write their only official history. Guitarist Brian May described him this week as “one of the good guys”.
“He was one of the first to write about Queen in the very early days,” he said. “Over the years he remained passionate about music and kept his freshness – a rock and roller with a very good heart. He was a trusted friend, one of the very few I have ever had in the music press, and I will miss him greatly. RIP Harry. Rock on.”
The son of a milkman from Richmond Crescent off Derry’s Strand Road, array began working for the Derry Journal in the 1960s as an apprentice compositor. A few years later he trained as a reporter and found himself thrust in at the deep end as the Troubles engulfed the city. He later recalled reporting on Bloody Sunday. “What a nightmare. It was hard to get that edition of the paper out,” he said. ‘Emotion and shock had set in and we were all deeply saddened to have lost (Journal colleague) Willie McKinney, one of the loveliest, gentlest men i’d ever met.”
Harry’s first experience of music journalism was the pop pages of a free paper published by the Journal, which opened his eyes to a new world. “I once asked for an interview with Horslips and found myself with the boys in their rehearsal cottage in Dunfanaghy. We got on great and, next, found myself on tour with them. This, I thought, is great.” It as with Horslips’ encouragement that he made the move to music journalism in England, first with Disc magazine and then for Melody Maker.
Harry became close to many new acts as they burst onto the scene, from Thin Lizzy and the Boomtown Rats to Kate Bush and Queen. He was closest to Queen, however, and having followed them throughout their career they asked that he write a history of the band to mark 40 years in the business. After Melody Maker Harry wrote for the Capital Radio magazine was the launch editor for Metal Hammer and was managing director of the online guide Books & Media. He also worked in record production with 1960s pop star Dave Dee, and in 2012 co-authored Thin Lizzy: The Boys Are Back In Town with guitarist Scott Gorham.
Through all his travels in the music industry he remained close to his family in Derry, and was back home in January for his mother Margaret’s funeral. Modest and hard-working, Harry had been living in Portsmouth on the south coast of England when he died last Sunday.
He will be cremated next week ahead of Requiem Mass at St Patrick’s Church, Pennyburn in Derry on [Sunday]
CORRECTION: SATURDAY May 10 at 4pm. He is survived by his children Kiera, Alexander and Niall, father Harry, brothers Fr Michael and Bernard and sisters Marian[?] Ann, Margaret and Susan.