Culture That Made Me: Linda Martin on Queen, Abba and A Touch of Frost  

Culture That Made Me: Linda Martin on Queen, Abba and A Touch of Frost  

Born in 1952, Linda Martin grew up in Belfast. In 1969, she joined Chips, a popular showband. In 1984, she came second in the Eurovision Song Contest with Terminal 3, and subsequently won the contest with the song Why Me? in 1992. On RTÉ television, she has presented The Lyrics Board and served as a judge on You’re a Star. She will perform as part of Reeling in the Showband Years, Cork Opera House, 8pm, January 28–29. 

Dusty Springfield

Growing up, the one person whose voice stood out for me was Dusty Springfield. She was one of the best singers that ever entered the charts. Nobody has ever come near her, regarding that type of voice. Now there’s been other fabulous singers — like, say, Whitney Houston — but Dusty had a different type of voice. There’s a huskiness to her. She could sing the softest ballad and then she could let loose on big key changes.

The Mamas & the Papas

The Mamas & and the Papas came into being around the mid-1960s. When I joined Chips at the end of the decade their songs were the sort we were doing, with huge harmonies. Mama Cass tweaked their harmonies with her voice. We loved the songs they were writing at the time, like ‘Dedicated to the One I Love’ and ‘Monday, Monday’. Everybody at that time sort of loved them, and they had two girls like us. So we latched onto that.

O Mio Babbino Caro 

I love the aria ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ from Puccini. It’s one of those songs that would pull at your heart strings because it’s a daughter talking to her father. It’s a beautiful piece of music.


The first time I remember listening to Queen was a song called ‘Seven Seas of Rhye’. It was the early 1970s. They were on Top of the Pops, and I thought, wow — they wiped me away. I’ve been a big fan ever since.

Lucy Worsley Investigates

I like history documentaries. There’s a woman called Lucy Worsley on BBC television. She does documentaries on anything to do with English history. Sometimes she’ll be inside, say, Kensington Palace showing you around and telling you how the royals lived. I’m big into social history so her documentaries appeal to me.

Van Halen 

Eddie Van Halen was the best guitar player in the world. He was fantastic. I love the songs that Van Halen were producing. I also love the fact that they struggled for years and years, not earning a dime but they served their apprenticeship and in my book if you can do that and then get success, well, you deserve every bit of success you get.

Those Were the Days

I still do Those Were the Days by Mary Hopkins on stage. I love it. It’s good because it’s a simple melody and when you get to the “la la” bit the audience can join in with you. Everybody can “la la” and believe me they do, they really do. It’s something I know works.

Sandra Bullock in ‘The Blind Side’.

The Blind Side

I’ve watched the film The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock many times. It’s a true story about a young black guy in America. He hasn’t got tuppence. His mother’s a drug addict. Sandra Bullock’s character and her husband are wealthy people. They see this young fella walking about in the rain. No coat on him. It turns out he’s living in the assembly hall in school. He moves in with them. They educate him. He ends up a first-class American football player. It’s an uplifting story.

Boney M.

I remember going to see Boney M. also at the RDS in Dublin. Don’t laugh. That was a spectacular stage show. Louis Walsh — who was managing me at the time — was at the concert as well. I went from the concert straight into the National Ballroom in Dublin because I was doing a gig. In those days, the gigs were usually 12 until two o’clock. 

The next thing, I’m on stage and who did I see coming in, but Louis Walsh with Boney M. He convinced them to come. They stayed, and then we all ended up in a nightclub in Dublin, a place called Samantha’s. They were lovely. Their songs were fantastic. I’m big into stage costumes and I loved what they were wearing. I remember seeing them on Top of the Pops and thinking I’d love one of their big white cloaks!

ABBA live

I remember going to see ABBA at the RDS in Dublin in 1979. I vividly remember sitting in the audience, listening to them. Everybody loves Abba, but when they performed those songs live it’s a different world. I was lucky in later years to meet them through the Eurovision association and in various situations. They’re very down-to-Earth people. In Chips, we used to do their songs on stage. People think Abba’s songs are simple songs to rehearse. They’re not — they’re very intricate songs. There’s such a lot of thought in them.

A Touch of Frost 

I love British TV drama/detective programmes, shows like A Touch of Frost. David Jason is a fabulous actor. He can go from comedy to being serious at the flick of a switch.

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