Colin McQuillan

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I was shocked last night to read that Colin McQuillan, lead singer of Runnin’ Riot had died suddenly earlier in the day. I was shocked particularly because just over a week before I’d seen him at the Rebellion Festival, both at the bar and then on stage with Runnin Riot on the Sunday. He looked on top form, but according to what I’ve read he died in his sleep while on tour while supporting Lars Fredriksen’s Old Firm Casuals. The band seemed to be on the way up after an up and down “career” of over 15 years.


For me Runnin’ Riot are easily one of the best Oi bands to come out of the 90s and are up with pretty much any of the original Oi bands. Not exactly prolific but I guess quality mattered more than quantity. Their songs can be anthemic, angry, funny and even moving, with lyrics about working class life in Belfast, a cut above those of some of the more cliched bands of the genre.
I didn’t know Colin well but I did meet him a few times. One of the first times was when I had a stall at a gig and he bought a couple of CDs. I was doing some kind of  deal on 2 CDs and tried to give him his correct change which he refused to accept. Feeling bad I followed him and tried to force a couple of quid into his hands, only to be told to fuck off! Generous in his own unique way!
I met him again when we were both staying at a mutual friend’s house. Runnin’ Riot had a gig in the evening, but their main priority on arriving at 10.30am was to find an off licence selling buckfast. A mammoth drinking session resulted in the band on stage at around 10.30pm giving a less than technically perfect performance, with Colin filling in a long gap with an accapella version of The Men They Couldn’t Hang’s Ghosts Of Cable Street. He came across to me as strongly opinionated (pro-trade union and working class solidarity, anti-fascist) but ultimately someone who just liked to have a drink and a laugh with mates. You could have a heated exchange of views but the next time he saw you he’d greet you like an old friend. He didn’t seem particularly bothered about promoting the band, getting in with the in crowd or hanging around backstage, he was there to enjoy himself.
The last time I spoke to him was when I bumped into him at a bar on the first night of Rebellion and probably my lasting memory will be the face of mock confusion and disgust he pulled when he was asked by bar staff if he wanted ice in his drink. I didn’t meet him often but it was always a pleasure, and it’s hard to believe that it won’t happen again. Condolences to the rest of the band and his family and friends.

7 thoughts on “Colin McQuillan

  1. Anyone who covers TMTCH must be ok, so am sorry for your & the Oi community’s loss.

    Will we get a rebellion review? Know you have a much better excuse for ducking ‘Spill duties than me – but do like my ‘Spill traditions.

  2. Ach, that’s sad news. I suppose there’s some element of selective reporting (people don’t reminisce about the passing of bastards), but from what you’ve written there, wyngate, it seems like the world is once again a slightly greyer place after his loss.

    I’m with Shoey; I may not listen to most of the music you blog about, but the annual Rebellion write-up IS a must-read.

    Do you have a 3-tune Runnin’ Riot playlist I should go find?

    • Did my own whilst replying to another email:
      Buckfast Tonic Wine – Johnny Reggae – Alcoholic Heroes.
      Went down pretty well, actually, particularly the last one.

      • Good point, I’m sure he wouldn’t have been everyone’s kind of person – a boisterous character, and I’m sure his sense of humour would have wound some people up (selling Runnin’ Riot balaclavas on their merch stall for example) but the few times I met him I genuinely liked him. Thinking about it I can’t remember hearing anyone say anything bad about him.
        There’s a few people in punk bands (particularly the more famous ones) where when they pass away it will be really amusing to see people twist themselves in knots to say only nice things about them, but that’s not the case here.
        I did a playlist last night which I’ll post soon.

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