Barry Devlin is a musician, screenwriter and director, born in Moortown, Northern Ireland, on November 27, 1946. His musical career was in the Celtic rock band “Horslips”, where he was bassist, singer and leader, after the The band’s breakup released a solo album “Breaking Star Codes” in 1983.
His career as a screenwriter and director has developed on radio where he wrote the drama “Baldi” for BBC Radio 4, writing episodes for the television series “Ballykissangel” and “The Darling Buds of May”, and the screenplay for the film “ A Man of No Importance ”from (1994). He wrote the scripts for all five episodes of the television series “My Mother and Other Strangers,” which aired in 2016.
Although in the visual world his best known works were the videos he recorded in the 80s with U2, Devlin was commissioned to direct the documentary of the recording of the album “The Unforgettable Fire” mixing images of Slane Castle and Windmill Lane Studios. The images recorded by Devlin were also used from this documentary to publish an alternative version of “Pride In The Name Of Love”.
He was in charge of directing the two videos of the live songs that were part of the EP “Wide Awake In America”, “A Sort Of Homecoming” and “Bad”.
He traveled with the band at the beginning of the tour “The Joshua Tree” in 1987, and was in charge of recording the documentary “Outside It’s America” from which images were used to present the videos of “Spanish Eyes” and “In God´s Country ”. Devlin remembers all that time with great affection to the point that when he has been asked in an interview about his best concert in which he has been, he answers that it was the show that started the tour “The Joshua Tree” in Arizona.
The official video clip of “I Still Haven´t Found What I’m Looking For” recorded on the streets of Las Vegas, bears Devlin’s own signature.
And his last contribution to the visual world with U2 was writing the video for “All I Want Is You” that Meiert Avis would end up directing. This video clip served to close the collaboration that Avis and Devlin had in the 80s, being the main directors that the band chose to produce the visual part.
The U2-Devlin relationship did not really start in the 80s and in the visual world, their first contact occurred in the late 70s when the band was still called “The Hype”, the vast majority of young people in Dublin were followers of Horslips, in fact Larry and The Edge have commented on occasion that it was the first band they saw play live, Adam Clayton along with Paul McGuinness attended a show at Wembley Arena where Horslips were opening act for Thin Lizzy, and Devlin comments the following from that moment “I think they were still called The Hype at the time and he asked me if he could produce their first demos. I said I was not a producer, but they said they wanted someone they could trust. What was impressive about the band was their ambition and their hard work, “says Barry.” What The Edge was doing on guitar I hadn’t heard before. It was not based on blues and used open strings and percussion echo to define how the music should move. We recorded “Shadows And Tall Trees”, “The Fool”, “Street Mission” and an old version of “Stories For Boys”.
And he adds the anecdote he lived with Larry Mullen Jr’s father, “I remember Larry Mullen’s father came at 2am to take Larry home and I said, ‘I’m not done with the kids yet’ and Larry Mullen Snr , in a low voice, he said, ‘Oh, you’re done!’ And he took Larry home, so that was it. Larry was only 16 at the time. “
Apart from the musical and visual work that Devlin has done for U2, we must not forget that he was the person who recommended Paul McGuinness to hire Steve Iredale, who was the band’s Production Manager for many years.
Another point in common of the band with Devlin has been the great relationship that the four members of the band had with the Irish Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney who was Devlin’s brother-in-law since he was married to his sister Marie Devlin from 1965 until his death. in 2013. All 4 members of U2 were at Heaney’s funeral.
And to end the anecdotes lived between Barry and U2, we move to 2005 when U2 had a trial with the one who was Bono’s stylist at the time of The Joshua Tree, Devlin was called as a witness by the band’s lawyers since he was who recorded the images of the documentary “Outside It’s America” where it was shown that Bono acquired the “Stetson” hat before Cashman’s arrival on the tour and that therefore that part of Bono’s styling did not belong to her. The trial was won by U2 and Cashman was sentenced to return the band’s clothes she had.