Rock Flashback: Bloody Sunday

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January 30, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland: a British soldier chases a Catholic protester while another soldier looks on. (Getty Images/AFP)

January 30, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland: a British soldier chases a Catholic protester while another soldier looks on. (Getty Images/AFP)

On January 30, 1972, in the town of Derry in Northern Ireland, 26 protesters were shot by British police. Fourteen died. The event is remembered as Bloody Sunday. It was probably the most significant event of “the Troubles,” the longstanding conflict in Northern Ireland. Bloody Sunday inspired several rockers to write songs.

Within days of Bloody Sunday, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Paul McCartney[/lastfm] wrote “Give Ireland Back to the Irish,” which would become a significant hit in the UK despite being banned by the BBC.


McCartney’s old mate [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]John Lennon[/lastfm] wrote “Sunday Bloody Sunday.” As their history would indicate, Lennon’s take on the event was more strident and direct than McCartney’s.


Lennon had become active in Irish politics even before Bloody Sunday, and just a week after the shootings, he publicly indicated his support for the Irish marchers during a rally in New York City. He also sang a second song inspired by the events of a week before, “Luck of the Irish.” Here’s a live TV performance.


In 1983, [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]U2[/lastfm] would record the most famous of the songs inspired by Bloody Sunday. Their “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is different from Lennon’s. Here’s a live performance from Rattle and Hum, recorded on the day of another famous event in the history of the Troubles, the Enniskillen bombing of 1987, with a modified lyric mentioning that event.


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