The newest member of global superstars Fleetwood Mac is an Irish citizen – despite being from the other side of the world.
Neil Finn is best known as the songwriter of Crowded House, who have had several world-wide hits over the years.
While he enjoyed great success during Crowded House’s heyday, things have gone up a level for him in the last year.
He has become a member of British-American Band Fleetwood Mac, replacing Lindsey Buckingham.
Finn is from New Zealand, but his mother was born in Ireland. She left when she was three but was always immersed in Irish traditional music when she was growing up – something she would pass on to her son.
He says: “I have no doubt that there’s a deeply ingrained Celtic gene running through me that is attracted to certain melodies.
“Maybe it was reinforced by the fact that when I was 15 or 16, the only music I could find to play in the small town I grew up in was the folk clubs… I’d sit around campfires playing old Irish – and English – folk songs and I think it’s very valuable.
“The Irish have influenced so much in music – look at country music in America: it’s derived in a large part, I think, from Irish traditional music.”
Neil’s son Liam is also a musician and the two released an album together called Lightsleeper.
Liam also has an Irish passport and says: “Even in my limited travels around Ireland I’ve felt that there is a tangible connection to my family. It makes it extra special.”
Neil says: “[Having an Irish passport] makes travelling around Europe easy – but we’re proud of it. When you grow up in New Zealand, you’re very conscious of where your parents or grandparents came from.”
When speaking about joining such an iconic band, he said: “I can’t quite believe it either – but when the opportunity arose, I couldn’t not do it.”
“I ran into Mick [Fleetwood] years and years earlier and I reconnected with him a few years ago when he was in New Zealand.
“We just went for dinner really, but there was chemistry there. He ended up playing on this record because I had this whimsical thought that Mick might want to come and play some drums – and he was up for it. He turned up for 10 days and we had a really fun time.
“We got to know him really well, but I could never have imagined this eventuality [joining Fleetwood Mac]. But then, out of the blue, he contacted me to say that Lindsey had gone and would I consider playing with them and see how it felt? It was such an unexpected call I wasn’t entirely sure that it was necessarily the right thing for me to do – even though I was very flattered to be asked.
“So I spoke to Liam and the rest of the family and they said, ‘Well, you’d have to go and play – you’d have to see what that felt like’. And I did that and our voices sounded good together and I really liked the music and the people so I jumped right in.”
How to apply for Irish citizenship
Check out the links below to see whether you might qualify for Irish citizenship.