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Bob Halligan, Jr.

Music Quiz of the Month

Q: What do M&Ms, Pope Francis, KISS, The Muppets,  Coca-Cola, Billy Joel, Miller Genuine Draft,  Kathy Mattea & Nickelodeon Channel have in common?

A: Bob Halligan, Jr.

Bob Halligan, Jr. worked extensively with the hard rock/heavy metal band Kix, beginning in the mid-1980s.

Syracuse-based musician, Bob Halligan, Jr., has had over 140 songs recorded by well-known rock artists, including KISS, Cher, Michael Bolton, Judas Priest, Blue Öyster Cult, Joan Jett, KIX, The Guess Who, Humble Pie, Jennifer Rush, Rik Emmett of Triumph, Helix, Icon, Kathy Mattea, Bob Carlisle, Rebecca St. James, Jump 5, Maire Brennan and countless others. He has published over 975 songs and his songs have sold more than 30 million units.

Halligan worked extensively with the hard rock/heavy metal band Kix, beginning in the mid-1980s, when he co-wrote most of the songs on the band’s third album, Midnite Dynamite. Incidentally, one of the most successful songs he has ever written is Kix’s near-top ten hit, “Don’t Close Your Eyes” (co-written with one-time Crack the Sky frontman John Palumbo and Kix bassist Donnie Purnell), which was featured on the band’s follow-up album, Blow My Fuse. The tune remains Kix’s highest charting single.

He also wrote the songs “Beat ‘Em Up” and “Make Rock Not War” on Blue Öyster Cult’s Club Ninja record, “Rise to It” and “Read My Body” on Kiss’ album Hot in the Shade, “Could’ve Been You” on Cher’s album Love Hurts and the single “Rock You” for Helix’s Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge album. In addition, Halligan wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on Night of the Crime by 80’s heavy metal band Icon. He also co-wrote the song “Bang Down The Door” on Bonfire’s 1989’s Point Blank record.

Bob is also know for his fantastic musicianship aside from his writing skills. He’s sung on records with Billy Joel, Michael Bolton, Joan Jett, Darlene Love, Michael McDonald, Joe Lynn Turner and Felix Cavaliere from the Rascals. Further, he sang lead on US national commercials for M&M’s, Carefree Sugarless gum, Folgers Coffee, Miller Genuine Draft. Halligan even wrote and sang 2 European Coca Cola commercials.

Bob co-wrote the theme song and an additional song for a TV pilot by Jim Henson called “Infini-TV” which was never picked up for production after the pilot was made. Worked in the studio with his “Muppeteers” coaching them on the vocals.

He plays Paul McCartney in Beatlemania.

‘Some resumé. But, wait—there’s more!

Bob Halligan Jr. has and still garners much success in the Catholic & Christian music markets as well. Having received many accolades for his efforts there, most noteably Ceili Rain.

Bob Halligan Jr. has and still garners much success in eh Catholic & Christian music markets as well. Having received many accolades for his efforts there, most noteably Ceili Rain—which Billboard Magazine hailed as a band “that the whole world should see”— he stays busy on the road as well. In fact, at the time of this writing Bob is heading back home to Syracuse after visiting Iowa where Ceili Rain performed Halligan’s music written for Alfred Hitchcock’s silent film, “The Lodger” at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival earlier in April.

Mr. Halligan was recently the only American invited to sing at a Papal gathering of 100,000 people in Italy, and met Pope Francis. The accolades go on and on: Contemporary Christian Rock song of the Year, 1989: “I Can, I Will” co-written with and recorded by (fellow Syracusan) Rick Cua. He was nominated for a CableACE award in 1992 for the song “Let Me Be Your Friend” for Best Original Song. Appeared in the Nickeloeon show “Roundhouse.”

Here at home he is an Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University, where he teaches songwriting, film scoring, music business and a Beatles class.

I saw Bob over the past month while preparing and performing in the BeatleCuse show. I had the privilege of singing a tune on which he was playing keyboards.

Chuck Schiele: You’ve been at it for some time. How and when did you get started in music?

Bob Halligan, Jr: Wrote my first song in 1968, but played in my first band in 1965.

CS: What are your primary instruments?

BH: Piano is home, but I also play guitar, bass and a bit of harmonica. I’m a singer first & foremost.

CS: So, what have you been up to for the better part of your musical life?

Syracuse-based musician, Bob Halligan, Jr., has had over 140 songs recorded by well-known rock artists.

BH: I played in CNY with Steak Nite 1972 through 1979. Then Pictures from 1979 thru 1982. I got my first publishing deal with United Artists Music in 1979 thru 1982. First hit was “The Best of Me” by Clout in 1980. After that, I had a publishing deal with Screen Gems/EMI 1983-1986. I owned and operated Oppernockity Tunes from 1986 through 1994 and then sold it to BMG Songs in 1995. Ceili Rain started in 1995. We’re still going.

CS: Wow. Quite the yellow-brick-road you’ve been on. What are you doing now? Is Ceili Rain your primary focus?

BH: Ceili Rain is my life’s work, but I am also Paul in Beatlemania Stage Show and have a one-man show called PaulTheBeatle. Also have been teaching music courses at SU for 10 years.

CS: You do Beatles superbly Sir Halligan, Jr. Superbly. What are the better moments of your career you remember most?

BH: 9 Gold or Platinum records and 30 million units sold as a songwriter. 13 Unity Awards (Catholic Music GRAMMY) for Ceili Rain and myself. I sang for 60,000 people at a Papal event in Torino, Italy and met Pope Francis.

CS: [Makes saluting gesture] Please share a funny war-story experience from your career. The time aliens descended into the club and started throwing Vienna franks at the bouncer …

BH: Well … writing with Ted Nugent and taking a ride in his Range Rover and getting stuck in the snow, and praying he wouldn’t eat me.

CS: Holy cow … that is a gas of a memory. In that context, it must be a little extra interesting for you, every time he pops up in the media with all things he’s up to. What are your thoughts on songwriting in general and songwriting today? Shifts in the this industry …

BH: Songwriting is a chance to tell the world something you think it ought to know. That remains today, and while the form is constantly changing, the impulse to create and express oneself is always the same.

CS: To whom do you listen for inspiration? Who’s doing it right?

BH: I really dig Mumford & Sons.

CS: What are your thoughts on the CNY scene?

BH: Lotsa great folks! I really only know my old pals from the 1975-1981 era … or the new people I’ve met through BeatleCUSE … or the University. Jocko at More Sound is a key player in the recording scene. A lotta great musicians and singers!

CS: Your best advice to the budding musicians and songwriters would be:

BH: Be part of the DIY movement. Get good at all facets of the business, and focus on songwriting as the key to success.

CS: How do we keep track of you and your music?

BH: www.ceilirain.com

CS:Thank you, Bob.

BH: Thank you, Chuck

Chuck Schiele
Chuck Schiele is an award-winning musician, art director, producer, editorialist, artist, activist, member of SaltCityChill.com and fan of the CNY music scene. To be considered for this column, please write chuck.schiele@gmail.com.