Boo Radleys bassist Tim Brown on moving from Top of the Pops to teaching

By Cormac Campbell
BBC News NI South East Reporter

  • Published
The Boo Radleys in 1990Image source, Dave Tonge/Getty Images
Image caption,
The Boo Radleys were Martin Carr, Tim Brown, Rob Cieka and Sice Rowbottom

Cast your memory back to 1995.

There were unlikely Premier League Champions in the shape of Blackburn Rovers and the Clintons flew in to Northern Ireland for a high-profile visit.

Meanwhile, Britpop was dominating the airwaves with the battle between Blur and Oasis capturing the public's imagination in a way not seen since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones dominated the charts 30 years earlier.

But what became of some of the other bands of the era?

What about the Boo Radleys? The musicians behind one of the most instantly catchy ear-worms of that year or any year - Wake Up Boo!

Originally from the Wirral, outside Liverpool, the band steered a course towards stardom with the release of their career-making single in February 1995.

In the blink of an eye they were playing Top of the Pops, Glastonbury and festivals right across Europe. Even today, the song still regularly turns up on radio stations across the globe.

Which it makes it all the more unusual that the band's bass player has been hiding in plain sight for the past 16 years, teaching at a St Louis Grammar School in Kilkeel, County Down.

For Tim Brown, the 25 years since his band's heyday has gone "in the blink of an eye".

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Tim Brown has been a teacher at St Louis Grammar School in Kilkeel for the past 16 years

"It doesn't seem that long ago," he said.

"We thought we were living the dream especially when it came to Top of the Pops.

"Top of the Pops was everything. When you came on the stage and all the young girls were singing a song that was released just a week ago you thought 'this was it'.

"We were rock stars and we were going to be millionaires.

"But it doesn't work out like that."

Tim has fond memories of the band's big moments, not least their "biggest one" playing Glastonbury for the second time, this time on the main stage, with "tens of thousands of people going made for the hit, for Wake Up".

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When the band wound up, he spent time producing others music before retraining as a teacher.

This was what eventually saw him trade the urban surroundings of Liverpool for the peace and solitude of the Mourne Mountains.

"We'd moved to Liverpool and that was where I met my wife," he said.

"She was studying there. So all those years later we returned to Northern Ireland.

"My first day, when I drove over the Mourne Mountains to the school, was a bit shocking. And you don't appreciate it after all these years, just how beautiful the area is. Especially as we have dogs and enjoy walking up the mountains.

"It's the ideal really."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The Boo Radleys played the Glastonbury festival twice

And just because he's not in a world-famous band any more, doesn't mean he's not putting his skills to use - at St Louis, Tim helps young students produce original music.

Although many of them are aware that he enjoyed some success as a musician, it comes as a shock to hear that he played Glastonbury twice.

The mention of Top of the Pops, which last aired in 2006, is met with confusion.

As A-Level student Orla says: "I know the name because of my parents, but I don't know what it is."

Talk about a wake-up call. But in the ever-shifting musical landscape, things can slip out of fashion pretty quickly - and back in just as quick.

That's why some of the Boo Radleys are coming together to record some new music to mark 25 years since their biggest days.

They'll be recording in the heart of the Mournes, a place that can deliver the most beautiful mornings of them all.