A Memoir by Helen O’Hara

Helen O’Hara decided she was going to be a violinist at the age of nine. Her violin was her badge of honour. She was brought up on a mix of classical and pop music, but it was pop that ruled her heart. A prodigious talent, she rose through the ranks in youth orchestras, but at seventeen she rebelled, left school and joined a progressive rock band. At twenty-one, she was back in college studying classical violin, where she was headhunted by Dexys Midnight Runners. Declining an offer from the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, she joined Dexys instead. Weeks later ‘Come On Eileen’ was number one in the UK charts.

What’s She Like provides a vivid account of the euphoric experience of recording and touring the album Too-Rye-Ay, and the tumultuous story of the making of Dexys’ masterpiece album, Don’t Stand Me Down. After Dexys disbanded in 1986, Helen started a long working relationship with Tanita Tikaram and recorded two solo instrumental albums, featuring acclaimed pianist Nicky Hopkins, before taking a break from music to raise her family. The break extended for 23 years. Once her two sons had grown, driven by forces almost beyond her control, she dusted down her violin and began the hard journey to once again make music the centre of her life, honouring the commitment she had made to herself aged nine.

Here, in her own words, she finally answers the question posed in the lead song on Don’t Stand Me Down: this is what she’s like.

To say that Helen O’Hara is a gifted musician is an understatement. She is an absolute genius. She is blessed with natural talent, she has incredible dedication, openness to new ideas and willingness to go the extra mile to create something great. I’m blessed to have worked with her. Kevin Rowland

Helen has beautifully captured the journey of determination, discipline, self-belief and talent that create great musicianship. Her choice to be a pop musician over a promising career in classical music leads her on all kinds of adventures including the highs and lows of being in a number one band.
Tanita Tikaram

Helen was a key member of a band that changed my life. Dexys redefined music for me – several times. And it’s now a huge honour for me to share a stage with Helen when we play shows. Her story is such an adventure and a must read for anyone who loves music. Tim Burgess

If you ever put your faith in Dexys, this book will confirm you were right to. Intense, emotional, but never overwritten. Bob Stanley

Advanced pre-publication signed copies of What’s She Like are exclusively available from this website at standard cover price. Shipping now. Click Buy Now above to order. What’s She Like goes on general release on 1st October 2022.

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