Neil McCormick is a UK based music journalist. He has a weekly column in the Daily Telegraph, he is a regular guest on BBC Breakfast Television and an occasional expert on music industry matters for BBC News. He is also a sought after pundit on radio, contributing to shows on BBC Radio 3, 4, 5 Live, Scotland, Wales and The World Service. He was formerly Editor At Large at GQ and has contributed to many other publications including Marie Claire, Q Magazine, Hot Press, the Observer, the Sunday Times and the Irish Independent. In another life Neil was allegedly the first person to leave rock band U2.
Neil was born in England in 1961 (you do the maths), raised in Scotland and Ireland and has lived in London since 1983 (people frequently listen to his confused accent and hazard a guess that he is American).
He was a school mate of the members of U2 in Dublin, and mis-spent his youth as singer in a succession of bands, notably Frankie Corpse & The Undertakers (1978), The Modulators (1978-79) Yeah!Yeah! (1980-83) and Shook Up! (1984-89). Critics loved them. Record companies didn’t. Neil gave up on the music business several years after it gave up on him and went on to carve a successful career in journalism.
Neil has continued to make music on the sidelines under the alias The Ghost Who Walks. Mel Gibson is a fan and used The Ghost’s music on ‘Songs Inspired By The Passion Of The Christ’, between Elvis Presley and Nick Cave, with Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan bringing up the rear (which is where Neil always thought he belonged). He occasionally performs around London with a band of aging rockers, the legendary Groovy Dad (so named because they are groovy, and they are dads, obviously).
Neil is the author of ‘I Was Bono’s Doppelganger’ (published in the US as ‘Killing Bono’), a memoir of his sorry existence, for which Neil’s working title was ‘How Not To Make It In The Music Business’.
A film version of ‘Killing Bono’ was released in 2011, directed by Nick Hamm, starring Ben Barnes as Neil, Robert Sheehan as his brother Ivan and Martin McCann as Bono. The film-makers actually succeeded in making Neil’s miserable musical career even worse, although at least he was played by Prince Caspian (which is how he always saw himself).
Neil is also the ghostwriter of U2’s autobiography, imaginatively entitled U2 By U2. It was the best selling music book in the world in 2007. But probably not because Neil’s name was on the jacket.