Helen O'Hara (born Helen Bevington, 5 November 1956) is a British
musician, formerly a member and violinist of the band Dexys
Midnight Runners between 1982 and 1987, including performing on songs
such as "Come on Eileen" from the
1 Early years
2 Dexys Midnight Runners
4 Solo discography
6 External links
O'Hara began her music career in her home town of
Gunner Kade, a band led by Ken Pustelnik, drummer from The Groundhogs.
She then joined a band called Wisper, which combined their solo career
with backing various artists. Wisper evolved into Uncle Po
(1976–78), which won the BBC's Quiz Kid band competition in 1977 and
subsequently released a single on the BEEB label entitled "Use My
Friends" (so rare that a copy sold in 2006 on eBay for over £80).
Uncle Po consisted of Rob Williams on guitar, Gavin King on vocals,
Lyndon Parry on bass and vocals, Andy Willis on sax. flute, and
vocals, O'Hara (as Helen "Spike" Bevington) on violin and keyboards,
and Steve "Basher" Bennett and Jimmer Hill on drums.
Dexys Midnight Runners
O'Hara left Uncle Po in late 1977 to study music at Birmingham School
of Music (now UCE Birmingham Conservatoire), graduating in 1982 with
an offer to join the Bilbao Symphony. However, after she recorded
some demos with The Blue Ox Babes, a band founded by ex-Dexys founder
Kevin 'Al' Archer, Archer recommended her to his former partner Kevin
Rowland, who was also experimenting with adding strings. She was
offered a place with Rowland's new line-up of Dexys—the result of a
session she and two other violinists from the university had carried
out as part of Rowland's decision to revamp the band's sound and
image. Rowland has said that he saw O'Hara standing at a bus stop
with her violin case and stopped to meet her. The more prosaic truth
is that of the three violinists at the session she was the only one
with any rock and roll experience, and therefore the only one to be
able to play a solo by feel. This she did well enough to be
immediately drafted into Dexys.
To fit in with Dexys' Celtic image, she took the stage last name of
"O'Hara". Within months she was touring the UK, followed by the US,
as "Come On Eileen" reached #1 in the charts in both countries. She
also began a personal relationship with Rowland. With the singles
"Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)" (a Van Morrison
cover) and "Let's Get This Straight (From The Start)" maintaining
their popularity, the group continued to tour through 1983 with a
nucleus of Rowland, O'Hara and Billy Adams, augmented by other
Beginning in 1984, and with the assistance of both studio musicians
and former members, Dexys wrote and recorded Don't Stand Me Down,
which was released in late 1985. Earlier in 1985, Rowland appointed
O'Hara as Dexys' musical director. O'Hara later commented that the
American musicians that they worked with "couldn't quite make out my
position in the band, and the whole thing." Some of the lyrics and
songs from that album, especially "This Is What She's Like", were
written by Rowland about her, which she said made them "pretty
uncomfortable" to record. The lengthy, contentious sessions for
that album strained both her relationship with Rowland and the core of
that version of Dexys. Although Dexys returned to the charts with
"Because Of You" (co-written by Rowland, O'Hara, and Adams) in 1986,
and O'Hara's "fan club" letter in November 1986 discussed imminent
recording sessions for a new Dexys album, she later said that at
that point "Dexys were finished really" and the band broke up in
After Dexys was reformed by Rowland in 2003, O'Hara appeared as a
guest artist on Dexys' fifth album Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish
And Country Soul in 2016, and she temporarily rejoined the band for
its two live performances that year in place of Dexys' current
violinist, Lucy Morgan, who was unavailable.
After leaving the band she worked with rock performers such as Graham
Tanita Tikaram (with whom she recorded "Good Tradition" and
toured from 1988 through 1990) and Mary Coughlan. In 1990, she
released a solo album entitled Romanza, with a backing band including
keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, which was later reissued as Southern
Hearts, and in 1998, she released her second solo album, A Night in
Ireland. After a 25-year gap, O'Hara and Tikaram resumed performing
live together in 2015.
Southern Hearts (Romanza) (1990) - New World Music CD 212
A Night in Ireland (1998) - New World Music CD 450
^ Strong, Martin Charles (2006). The essential rock discography.
Canongate U.S. pp. 302–. ISBN 978-1-84195-860-6. Retrieved
14 June 2011.
^ "Uncle Po: What Ever Happened to Brian?".
Bristol Archives Records.
Retrieved 3 April 2016.
^ a b c d e f
Helen O'Hara biography on Dexys website
^ a b
Helen O'Hara letter to
Dexys Midnight Runners
Dexys Midnight Runners Circle, November
1986, reprinted at Dexys website
^ a b c
Helen O'Hara 2002 interview, reprinted at Dexys website
^ "Dexys announce special London performances". Irish World. 25 May
2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
Helen O'Hara at New World Music
Dexys Midnight Runners
Andy "Stoker" Growcott
Searching for the Young Soul Rebels
Don't Stand Me Down
One Day I'm Going to Soar
Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish And Country Soul
The Very Best of Dexys Midnight Runners
BBC Radio One Live in Concert
Let's Make This Precious: The Best of Dexys Midnight Runners
The Projected Passion Revue
Master Series - Dexy's Midnight Runners
"There, There, My Dear"
"Keep It Part Two (Inferiority Part One)"
"Liars A To E"
"The Celtic Soul Brothers"
"Come On Eileen"
"Jackie Wilson Said (I'm in Heaven When You Smile)"
"Let's Get this Straight (From the Start)"
"This is What She's Like"
"Because of You"
"She Got a Wiggle"
The Blue Ox Babes