In Conversation with Bob Geldof’s Drummer of 25 Years and Author of Timing Is Everything (a Memoir), Niall Power


There aren’t many people who know me who don’t know how much I love Bob Geldof and The Boomtown Rats. Even though I’m not always up to date with the latest camp Geldof news, it’s a love that has lasted for 40 years. So, when Bob’s drummer of 25 years (for his solo career), Niall Power, wrote to me through Facebook to advise me of his story since their last Canadian tour, I was at first delighted and then saddened by the news of his retirement from drumming due to Parkinson’s disease. However, it didn’t take long to realize that this is a man who doesn’t let life get him down, which is evident upon reading Timing Is Everything, Niall’s inspiring memoir, published in 2017.

Niall, after reading your book, I was left with the impression that you consider yourself an ordinary man, perhaps quiet and shy, certainly easy-going, who just happened to have a passion for drumming. However, although you never had a plan for your music career, you ended up having quite an extraordinary experience as a session musician, playing for many bands, including Stepaside, Les Enfants, Ordinary Man, Eamonn Gibney, Westlife and most notably, Bob Geldof, with whom you performed for 25 years.

How does a musician get as far as you have in his career without a plan?

I can sum that up in one word, ‘Luck’.

I never set out to be a session drummer and end up playing with so many bands.
As a teenager in the early 1970s, my ambition was to form my own band with my friends, write our own songs and hopefully be the rock gods of the future, like our idols, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple.

Niall Power 1960
Niall Power in 1960.

My dad was a soldier in the Curragh Camp, Co Kildare, and there were two army marching bands who paraded past our home on most days. I loved their drummers from an early age. There weren’t many teenagers playing musical instruments in the area, so it was always going to be difficult to finalize a lineup for the band.

I was playing the unfashionable accordion and wearing a kilt in the school band during

Niall Power in 1970 on left with accordion.
1970, on left, with accordion.

the ‘Summer of Love’ in 1967. But as soon as I heard The Beatles on the radio, I realized then that I had to learn how to play another instrument to be in a rock band.  I chose the drums after seeing Mickey Dolenz, drummer with The Monkees on television, larking around and generally having fun.

After a few years of practice, much to the annoyance of the neighbors, I finally mastered the art of drumming and set out to join any band that would have me. I had no plan of action for how I was going to achieve this. My armory consisted of my dodgy first drum kit, long hair, a smile and buckets of enthusiasm for the task ahead.

For someone who clearly states in the preface of your book that you are not a writer, I congratulate you on the great achievement of having compiled your memoir, Timing Is Everything, which was written on an iPad with the index finger of your right hand! That, in itself, is a testament to your passion and determination to see a project through to its completion, and your resilience in the face of adversity. You are truly an inspiration, not just because of your drumming prowess, but because of the strength of your character.

I couldn’t help but notice your incredibly positive attitude about life in general and wondered to what would you attribute it?

My attitude to life has never changed from the outset.

I had a very safe and happy childhood and I seem to have kept that feeling with me throughout my musical career. My parents always encouraged me to follow my heart, even though they probably didn’t understand how you could possibly make a living from hitting things, whilst hoping I would come to my senses and get a proper job.  I don’t worry about stuff, including Parkinson’s. Above all, I love playing and creating music, just seeing people in the audience responding in kind to the noise that we make is good enough for me. Not many people get to live out their dreams every day…it’s been some trip.

“And what a drummer. Without question one of the best. I know from whence I speak. In the course of my 40 years playing rock ‘n’ roll, Niall Power is up there/alongside/on par with/equal to literally the Big Hitters. He’s a fucking amazing player.”


“Man he can sing.”


“He glued the band together. Everyone loved him. He was the spirit of the thing. The joy of it. The love of gigging. The fierce ecstasy of playing music…What a man to travel the world with for over 25 years. What a friend to share so much of your life with. The things we’ve done and seen and been together. He’ll remember. I won’t.” 

~ Bob Geldof, Introduction to Timing Is Everything

In the introduction of your book, written by Bob Geldof, he says that the tedium of touring never seemed to affect you. How was that possible? 

Sure, life on the road can be tedious at times. You’re living in a bubble with other musicians and roadies with deadlines to meet every day. Things can get a bit out of hand, tempers flare, we’d do a bad gig, one person thought the gig was great, the other five thought it was crap. Musicians live for the road and as much as I like travelling on the tour bus (your home away from home), it’s only okay for a few weeks. I loved waking up in a different country each day and going for a walk down the Champs Elysees in Paris after being in Amsterdam the previous night. But you also need to stop touring, stop moving at the speed of sound and be at home with your own family. I have always kept a low profile on the road and steered clear of any aggravation that may have been brewing from time to time. As our tour manager ‘The Mick’ (RIP) used to say, “we’re only up for the day.” 

You played with Bob for the Live 8 concert on 2 July 2005 which was undoubtedly one of, if not the biggest, career high of your life. I know that the experience must have been surreal, but what singular treasured memory do you take away from that event? 

I have many memories from that great day in July at Live 8.

The one that sticks in my mind the most is the fact that I had to play someone else’s drum kit without seeing it first. As I play left-handed, the kit was set up right-handed for the previous band’s drummer. So, I walked on stage in front of thousands of people in Hyde Park, live to the world on television, with no time to swap things around.

The song was ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ and was probably the only song that I could play with the kit being the wrong way around. There was also no vocal microphone, so I did the backing vocals, “tell me why”, into fresh air. You can view this video on YouTube.

It was amazing hanging out backstage with all the other acts including Beatle, Paul McCartney, who signed a copy of my Beatles White Album CD cover, which I just happened to have in my pocket. Timing is Everything! 


Do you know if Bob has any plans to record a new album? If so, will you be singing background vocals on it? 

As far as I know, The Boomtown Rats are due to release a new album in 2019.

There are no new recording plans for another Bob solo album this year. I would hope to make a cameo appearance on backing vocals, when and if the opportunity arises.

I cannot help but ask, is there anything you can tell Bob’s super fans about him that they wouldn’t already know? 

Niall Power and Bob Geldof
2011 London. Photo by Eddy Valdameri.

I don’t usually comment on Bob, but I will say it has been a great pleasure to have had the opportunity to keep the beat behind him for all those years. I never expected it to last more than one tour. A truly amazing time that I will remember forever. His most thoughtful words to me were when I was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He said, “You have a job for life in this band.” I replied, “What if I can’t drum?” He said, “We’ll find something for you to do,” so I ended up playing the spoons. 

Do you think that your remarkable memory is simply due to genetics or a result of years having to remember so many songs? 

I put the memory thing down to the fact that I loved every minute of being in a band. It’s not just the Geldof band, but all the bands that I’ve been involved with. I can recall the musicians, most of the songs and how to play them, the venues, the years, etc.; it just seems to stay with me.

Don’t ask me to add and subtract as that part of my memory is definitely missing. 

Have you ever researched whether spicy food such as the Indian curry you so love, may have a positive effect on your brain?

I never looked into the benefits of spicy food on the brain.

Many musicians have a fondness for Indian curry and while visiting a new town with the band, someone would always be on the lookout for the best Indian restaurant.
My DNA tells me that way back many centuries ago, my ancestors are likely to be of Middle Eastern origin, so that’s good enough for me.

I love that your favourite television program during the 1960s was The Monkees! I was born in 1964 but I also remember watching that show when I was a kid and loving it. Have you ever been able to play with Mickey Dolenz? Did you know that he and Mike Nesmith went back on tour last year as The Monkees Present: The Mike and Mickey Show before Nesmith had a quadruple bypass? It might not be too late for you to jam with them! 

Yeah, as mentioned previously, The Monkees were a big part of my musical influences. Every Saturday evening, they were featured on our RTE channel. We only had one TV station in the sixties and music programs were few and far between. It was always ballad singers or light entertainment TV shows with very little choice for young people. Radio was the only option to hear the pop tunes of the day like The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. The Monkees were a breath of fresh air in a dull television schedule.

I met their drummer Mickey Dolenz in Nottingham, England in 1985 when he was working for a TV station. Charming man, and I told him how I would copy his drumming style with my air drumming in front of the television. He’s likely responsible for me being a left-handed drummer as he never seemed to set his kit up the same way twice. He wasn’t a drummer at all, just an actor who played drums in a TV show.

It would be cool to catch up with him again.

One of my favourite sections of your book was on the Thin White Duke. As a lifelong fan of David Bowie, your recollection of having once been his driver delighted me! Do you regret not telling him that you were Bob’s drummer? That was surely a big lesson that timing is everything!!

No, I don’t regret not telling David Bowie that I was a drummer. First rule of employment is that you do the job you were asked to do. My brief was that I wasn’t allowed to speak or ask questions unless I was spoken to. This is normal with celebrities and their hired drivers.

When the opportunity arose and I was just driving David on his own to rehearsal, we did have conversations about various things during the three weeks that I was his band’s driver. Anyway, he did find out that I was a drummer for Bob when both bands played at a concert in Paris a few weeks after my driving job finished.

He was a charming man and I’m so glad I was able to be that close to an icon of the music world.

Niall Power Dubai
Niall Power in Dubai. Photo by Mark Cowne.

Your book contains a very matter of fact outline of your career as a session drummer who travelled the world with many bands, but I noticed that you refrained from including saucy road stories about the types of antics that go on between traveling band mates. Surely, you have one or two amusing anecdotes to share in this regard? 

I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase, “What happens on the road stays on the road.”  

Well you can’t blame a girl for trying!

On the road, you’ve rubbed shoulders with some of the greats in the music world. What was the single most exciting moment that you experienced and who was it with?

It has to be my first ever time to play live onstage, at the Liverpool Irish Centre in 1975.

Niall Power age 17.
1975 London, age 17.

For the previous four years I’d been bashing away at home, wondering if I was ever going to get it together as a drummer. I was a roadie for all of 1974 with a local band called Just Four. They invited me to go to England on tour with them and I managed to befriend their support group called Midnight who were based in Birmingham. I stayed in England after the tour and moved to London to stay with my friend Jim Sullivan and his family. Jim was the guitarist when we tried unsuccessfully to start our band in the Curragh some years previously. I had told Midnight that I was a drummer looking for a job, and if they were ever changing their drummer to get in touch with me in London.
I received a letter in the post a few months later to ask if I would like to return to Birmingham and join Midnight. I couldn’t believe it, I had never played onstage with a band before and that first gig in Liverpool was a blast. I was probably terrible on the night, but you have to start somewhere and that was where it all began. 

If you could have played with any musician in the world that you haven’t played with, who would you choose?

It has to be George Harrison.

I just loved his music and his vibe. Over the years I have played in many cover bands who performed Beatles tunes in their sets, but it would have been magic to get a chance to play “Here Comes the Sun” with George. 

You have travelled all over the world in your career. What is your favourite place to visit and why?

It would have to be India. We played there on three separate occasions and I loved it. The music is enthralling, the food is incredible, the friendly nature of the people and the sheer size of the place is amazing.

Driving anywhere is a task only to be undertaken by a kamikaze.

The sounds, smells, colours and the poverty have to be seen to be believed.
A truly wonderful country to visit.

Since you retired from drumming in 2015, you have been absorbed in genealogical research, both for yourself and others. What have you been doing in this regard since the publication of your book?

Initially, I only undertook the genealogical search for my own family tree. I found this process to be very helpful for my Parkinson’s situation as it gave me something positive to do after my diagnosis.

I needed a task to engage the brain, almost like doing a crossword puzzle and trying to find answers to the clues. There are many discrepancies on old documents, and it is painstaking work trying to decipher the handwriting and make sense of the information. I’m sure it helped me take my mind off the fact that I was losing the fine motor movements on my left side and my drumming skill was disappearing fast.

I have helped some friends with their own family research, but I’m not going to make a career out of it as it’s very time consuming.

Many Irish documents relating to births, marriages and deaths were destroyed by fire in the Irish Civil War, and only the 1901 and 1911 census records are available to view.
I’m still active with regard to my own family tree and I’ve traced many relations, in Canada and the USA. 

Are you and your wife, Michelle, still farming or working as entrepreneurs? 

Unfortunately, I can’t work anymore with my left hand shaking. It’s now 11 years since

Niall Power at home
Niall in 2016.

diagnosis and the motor skills on my left side are gradually disappearing. For example, I cannot put a letter into an envelope or hold a newspaper without my hand trembling.

I’m so used to the shaking that it that doesn’t bother me anymore, and even though it’s a progressive and incurable disease, I just get on with it and make the best of every day usually tending to the garden. Michelle is my career. 

Can you tell us more about your diet and exercise regime and anything else that has enabled you to make the best of your life with Parkinson’s disease?

Most people will tell you that they altered their diet after a Parkinson’s diagnosis, which I did. I did it as a reaction rather than a necessity. It’s a scary time and the need to do anything to solve the problem is great. My first move was to get supplements from the chemist and I also tried a course of acupuncture and meditation. No real benefits from any of these.

I was aged 50 at the time of diagnosis and in reasonably good shape, so I joined my local swimming club and gym. I rarely miss a day and workout on the treadmill and the bicycle, with some light weights. Then it’s into the pool where I power walk in the water and generally have some fun. This activity may not suit some Parkinson’s patients who have issues with their walking, but I find it very rewarding. You have to find something that works for you and stick with it. Never give up. 

How would you like to be able to help others who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s? 

During the last year I spoke at a few Parkinson’s related events and basically, I just informed the patients about my exercise routine, and how good it can make you feel to do something for yourself that gives you enjoyment and has many other health benefits. 

What have you been doing since your book was published in 2017?

Since the publication of my book I’ve been trying to keep busy. I went to Australia last October and cycled around 1,200 kilometers in the glorious sunshine state of Queensland. My symptoms decreased significantly, and I will be informing my neurologist about this at my next checkup.

Timing Is Everything will be featured in the book nook at the World Parkinson Congress in Kyoto this year, and who knows, a cure may be soon be found.

Niall Power in 2018
Niall Power in 2018. Photo by Frank Smith.

Bob Geldof: Still Making Music & Better Than Ever At Age 61!

This review is a little late in coming as I saw Bob Geldof in concert last Tuesday night at The Empire Theatre in Belleville with four of my closest girlfriends, but the sheer enthusiasm and joy I felt after witnessing my 5th Geldof concert has not waned one iota!  So I must tell you about it!

I’ve been a fan of Sir Bob’s for over 30 years and have had the pleasure of making some pretty wonderful online friendships (most notably with Julie Koretz, administrator of the Bob Geldof Fans Facebook page who I have been friends with for 10 years) because of a mutual appreciation for the man and his music.  The former leader of Irish punk rockers The Boomtown Rats (1977-1986) is better known for his humanitarian and business endeavours than he is for his music, but make no mistake, this man puts on one of the THE BEST rock shows you are ever likely to see!  I’ve seen some pretty impressive bands including U2, Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band, The Clash, David Bowie,  Elton John, Roxy Music, Iggy Pop, The White Stripes, Lenny Kravitz and Matchbox Twenty to name a few, but no one, except for U2 & Springsteen can hold a candle to a live Geldof performance.

In the days leading up to Geldof’s performance in Belleville, Ontario he and

Bob with Jim Barber

the band played shows in Hamilton, St. Catharines, Oshawa and Ottawa.  Bob was interviewed by everyone from the CBC to The Napanee Guide’s Jim Barber (a personal friend of mine) and I got more and more excited about seeing him again.

On the night of his Belleville show, I was reminded that Geldof’s band is absolutely superb!  Guitarist Johnny Turnbull, bassist Pete Briquette (The Boomtown Rats), keyboard player & accordionist Alan Dunn, drummer Jim Russell, percussionist Niall Power and violinist Vince Lovepump (aka Bob Loveday) are as tight and professional a group of rockers as any of the artists I listed above. Not only are they each talented players, but they are so comfortable with each other and with letting Bob have all the limelight that they should be commended for standing by him for so many years.  Niall Power

Turnbull & Briquette

was quoted in an Irish newspaper article last year as saying, “Just let’s say that he doesn’t suffer fools gladly,’ Niall laughs. ‘We’re still friends after all these years so I must be doing something right.”

Then there’s Bob himself.  His unmistakable voice is still as strong and fierce as ever and can be equally soft and tender when the song calls for it.  He never stops moving on stage, sometimes padding back and forth like a caged tiger, arms waving in the air to express emotion in a song or while simply dancing back and forth on the spot like a whiskey-soaked gypsy.  As most people would assume, the verbose Geldof is a master storyteller and his rapport with the audience is second to none.  Whether he’s retelling the story of the inspiration for the song “Scream in Vain” and about how sweet potatoes/yams could feed a whole village in Africa or complaining about his hotel in Belleville being at some crossroads on the edge of town where there’s nothing but a Dollarama, he holds an engrossed audience in the palm of his hands.  He’s not above telling you to fuck off either (he told me to fuck off when I complimented Briquette in his presence after the show…but he said it with affection!) but when he smiles or laughs and those dimples are flashed, women are still melting in his 61-year-old presence.

And I can’t forget to mention the singularly charming anomaly that is Vince Lovepump.  He’s a premier violin and mandolin player but you tend to forget about the notes he’s plucking from the strings because you’re fixated on the crazy, mesh wife-beater shirts that he’s so fond of wearing.  His appearance in Geldof’s joyful trampoline jumping video for “Silly Pretty Thing” makes my BFF Jen & I laugh every time.  In it, Vince and Bob run through a wheat field propelling their arms like airplane wings before Bob jumps on the trampoline to show off his acrobatic prowess while Vince plays the violin beside him, wearing a white mesh wife-beater

Vince Lovepump

with a big stain on it.  It’s hilarious!  (Vince is a benign Ray Winstone.)  And on Tuesday night, Vince’s shirt had a hole in it.  Jen & I are seriously thinking about taking up a collection for him to buy him some new shirts!

Bob’s released 7+ albums with The Boomtown Rats and 5 solo albums since 1977, the latest being 2011’s How To Compose Popular Songs That Will Sellthe ironic title of which is not lost on him.  On Tuesday night he performed selections from the Rats discography (“Banana Republic”, “Joey’s On The Street Again”, “Mary of the Fourth Form” and the classic “I Don’t Like Mondays”) and his solo repertoire – mainly from his last two albums – (“One For Me”, “Scream in Vain”, “Mudslide”, “Systematic Six Pack”, “Silly Pretty Thing”, “Dazzled By You”, “Mary Says” among others) opening and closing the show with “The Great Song of Indifference”, one of my all-time favourites.

I kept turning to look at my friends to see if they were enjoying themselves

L-R: Tracie, Nicole, Jen & Kelly

as much as I was and they were!  Only Jen had seen Bob before and knew what to expect, but Tracie, Nicole & Kelly were blown away by how fantastic the concert was.  They were all grinning from ear to ear.  I wanted to dance throughout the whole show.  As it turned out, I joined the crowd at the edge of the stage for the encore and danced at that point, beaming with rapture, and laughing at a middle-aged man who was in Geldof’s words “going apeshit” while pounding the stage to get his attention.  He wanted Bob to sing a song for his brother who was celebrating his birthday and Bob obliged with the beautiful “Mary Says”.

After the encore (several standing ovations were given to the band during the evening), the die-hard fans waited around for Bob to come back out to the front of the stage to sign autographs and pose for photos, which he does so graciously, and I’m quite sure he has a lot of fun doing it.  It’s hard to not want to have more than 30 seconds or so to talk to the man, but he always makes his time with you memorable.  Tracie asked him to sign her ticket so that it would say Happy Birthday to her as she’d just celebrated her 47th birthday.  Bob was gobsmacked at the fact that she was that old (with a 20-year-old daughter) because she doesn’t look a day over 30 and told her that he didn’t believe she was 47.  Needless to say, she’ll never forget that!

I was waiting in line to get Bob to sign a copy of his Live Target CD that I’d purchased from his tour manager Willo earlier in the evening, and saw Pete on the stage.  As he’s a Facebook friend, I called out to him and introduced myself, saying that I was Christine from Facebook, and Bob turned around and said “You’re Christine!” as I believe he realized that I’m one of the administrators of his Facebook fan page, along with Julie (Jules) and Irene Clayton.  I said, “Yes, I am,” and asked Pete to sign my CD.  So he laid down on the stage and Kelly suggested that his pose would make for a great photo and I replied, “You’re right!  Pete does look good!”  And that’s when

Pete signs my CD!

Bob told me to fuck off.

Bob & Jen had a conversation about Facebook and he said that if she was his friend on Facebook that he’d delete her and that in fact, he’d have a great time deleting people on Facebook!  He is gleeful when “taking the piss out of” someone.

When it was my turn to talk to Bob, he asked me when the last time was that I’d seen them play and I told him that it was in 2003 in Dublin at Vicar Street (he declared his love for the venue) and that I’d seen him in Quebec City the same year and that Jen & I had met him at the Palais Royale in Toronto in 2002.  So Bob replied with, “So you’re like stalkers then!”  I’m telling you, you haven’t lived until Bob Geldof tells you to fuck off and calls you a stalker!  Seriously Bob, I only get to see you every 10 years so that’s hardly grounds for being one!

We all had such a great time that it was hard to leave but it’s only fair to let all the fans who were waiting have their time with Bob and Pete told me that they might just come back to Canada next year to play some more shows.  We can only hope!

If you ever get the chance to see Bob Geldof live in concert, DON’T MISS IT!!! He will undoubtedly exceed your expectations in every way.

Scully Love Promo’s Facebook Page Is For All Artists!

Hello everyone!

My Scully Love Promo Facebook page offers some great tips on social media as well as information about very talented musicians, authors, photographers, and other artists. In fact, all artists are invited to LIKE the page and are welcome to post links and information about their own work.

Today the Scully Love Promo page has 1,182 members and I would love to see it reach 1,200 by the end of the week. I believe in the power of networking and helping each other to spread the love about our work. There is enough room for everyone to be successful and none of us can do it alone. Especially in light of the changes made to Facebook pages and the fact that if we are not an administrator of a page, we can only share it by either posting a link on our wall or by sending a link via email to our personal friends – unless we want to pay for a Facebook ad. So we need each other more than ever! Cross promotion can be very effective and as you know, it takes a village! I encourage all page owners to LIKE other pages as their page (i.e., refer to the Manage tab in the Admin Panel at the top of your page that says Use Facebook as…in my case, Scully Love Promo) which will feature them in the LIKES box on the right side of the Timeline-style page and help to cross promote those artists or businesses that you would recommend.

The Scully Love Promo Facebook page is just one way in which I promote the talented people that I get to know. I write entertainment reviews and interviews which you are familiar with if you read this blog, for Press +1, Canada’s largest online indie entertainment magazine (it has a readership of 3 million!) and Jill Crossland’s TimeFinders – Women Writing For Women. I also write books reviews for HarperCollins Canada and Simon & Schuster and post them on Amazon, and post press releases for local theatre and music events.

Last but not least, is my Scully Love Promo social media management business. I specialize in assisting musicians and authors with their social media marketing campaigns using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace and WordPress among other top sites, and have created dozens of Facebook pages for artists as well as local businesses. I am one of three administrators of the official Facebook page for Bob Geldof, the Irish musician (former leader of The Boomtown Rats), successful entrepreneur, Band AID and Live AID founder and humanitarian who was knighted by the Queen of England for his tireless fundraising & awareness efforts on behalf of Africa.

I would be honoured to help spread the love about you!

NOTE: This article was updated on March 26, 2012