Coulter is one of Northern Ireland’s great artists

Newsletter Editorial

But this city — or city, to be more precise — gave the musician the freedom to do so.

The honor was unanimously accepted by Derry City and Strabane District Council, and rightly so.

Coulter is one of Northern Ireland’s artistic giants.

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He burst onto the international music scene in his mid-twenties when the track he wrote “Puppet on a String” won the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest, performed by Sandie Shaw.

The following year he had written another number one hit, “Congratulations”, for Cliff Richard.

And since then, Coulter – who recently turned 80 – has been a household name in this province and highly respected in musical circles around the world.

Earlier this year, Coulter gave an interview to this newspaper in which he reflected on a career that saw him collaborate with stars from the Bay City Rollers to Jerry Lee Lewis, from the Rolling Stones to the Dubliners.

Few could make the comment he did: “When I sat in my youth in a terraced house listening to Elvis Presley sing Hound Dog, did I ever think in a million years that the King would sing a day something that I had written? No.”

Coulter, whose father was a Catholic member of the RUC, attended St Columb’s College High School, which has an impressive list of alumni including two fellow creative giants Seamus Heaney and Brian Friel, and other distinguished old boys ranging from footballer Michael O’Neill to politician John Hume and physicist Ray Flannery.

Coulter did not retire when he turned octogenarian and continues to perform, in a career that has earned him 23 platinum, 39 gold and 52 silver records.

He has worked with Van Morrison and James Galway and joins them in NI’s list of big names.

Always proud of Maiden City, he has now given them their highest form of recognition.