Pete McKenna & King City Online ©
Anthony (Tony) O’Shaughnessy, the young boy immortalised on the cover of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ classic debut album Searching For The Young Soul Rebels, has died aged 63. Dexy’s announced the sad news on their Facebook page, saying: “Dexys are very sorry to hear the sad news about the passing of Tony O’Shaughnessy — the boy featured on the cover of the first Dexys album.
“We remember well the first time we met him, when he came marching up to us after our first Belfast show and told us who he was and how surprised he had been to see himself on the cover of the record.
“We were all delighted to meet him and hear his story.
"We met with him a few times subsequently over the years and it was always a pleasure. A lovely man.”
By way of a tribute, here’s Tony’s story in his own words…
“I was thirteen years old when the picture was taken - 9th August 1971 and the height of the troubles in Belfast. There was a lot of fear on both sides and Catholics were moving out to live in Catholic areas and the same with the Protestants who set fire to our house. Unfortunately the fire brigade couldn't get up the street so we had no choice but to flee. What you see in my arms is basically all that I could grab. In the little suitcase was a two bar electric fire and my pride and joy, my Subbuteo and a couple of cars. In the other bag were my pyjamas and one set of clothes. The area where the picture was taken was called Cranbroook Gardens in North Belfast around four o'clock in the afternoon. There is a young boy wearing a duffle coat on the left hand side and that was my brother Kevin. On the right hand side there is another boy wearing shorts, my other brother Gerard. There was shooting going on and that's why the older boy holding Gerards arm is bowing down.
I didn't know the photograph had been taken until the next day when we came back and our house was gone, nothing left of it at all. I had a neighbour across the street and he told me that he'd been to work in London and had seen the picture in the Evening Standard. Then in 1980 a friend of mine told me that he'd seen the photograph of me on some album. I thought he was joking or that it was just somebody who looked like me so we went to the record shop where the record was plastered all over and there was a full size cut out of the cover with me on it. I can still more or less feel now what I felt then - WOW - everything was going round in my head. I couldn't buy the album at the time because I didn't have three bob on me but I did eventually get a copy. I also met the band too. Geno was out when the band came to Ireland and we got tickets.
Whilst we were queuing up, there were a couple of security and roadies and they were wearing tee shirts with my face on it so I went up and told the woman that it was my face on the tee shirt. I don't think that she really believed me but she told me to come back after the show and she would take me to the hotel where the band were staying. I took a copy of the cover that I had picked up and got it signed by the band and I've still got it. I remember talking to Kevin Rowland Geoff Blythe and Jim Paterson.”
Tony has a unique place in Birmingham music folklore and King City Online would like to express our gratitude and our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.