The website of soft rock guitarist Jim Corr makes for an unlikely gateway drug. It is plastered with photos of the goateed 56 year-old mucking about in the studio with chart-topping sisters Andrea, Caroline and Sharon. As The Corrs they have sold over 30 million records and forced us to consider at length the all-important question of whether Fleetwood Mac melodies and Celtic fiddles can live in perfect harmony. As far as their huge fanbase is concerned, the answer is very much in the affirmative.
The emotion conjured by this tableaux is a heart-warming sense of family. It is precisely what you would expect of the online presence of a middle-aged rock star who hasn’t had a meaningful hit since the early 2000s but can still command a loyal global following (when The Corrs reformed in 2016 they packed the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena in London).
Yet alongside these visual keepsakes is a rolling feed of Corr’s Twitter account. This is somewhat less cuddly than The Corrs's music. Here, the more appropriate soundtrack would be ominous death metal.
One headline retweeted by Corr declares “The virus is a ploy to bring in the global corporate takeover”. Another laments “lies, damn lies and UK health statistics”. Welcome to Corrland. Strap in as it will be a bumpy ride.
“It was 911,” Corr said in 2010 when asked on Irish television why he had become a conspiracy theorist. “I got very curious as to what actually happened that day. I had a lot of questions. As I began to study it…it became obvious to me that the official story could not be true.”
Having concluded the September 11 attacks were a “false flag” operation to cover for a profitable invasion of Iraq, Corr plunged deeper down the burrow.
He has claimed climate change is a “hoax” and the European Union merely the first stage on the path to a One World Government. Mindless terror awaits – which will certainly strike a chord with anyone forced to listen to The Corrs's 2005 covers record Home, in which Phil Lynott’s Old Town was beaten up with flutes and fiddles and left floating face down.
Coronavirus would seem to have driven Corr further still down the rabbit hole. Consider his recent and obviously highly surreal Twitter spat with tall-haired X-Factor alumni Jedward. This was, in fact, a pop star three-way grudge match, with Sinéad O’Connor weighing in on the side of John and Edward and against Corr’s anti-mask beliefs.
The disagreement caught fire after Corr attended an anti-lockdown rally in Dublin in August. “G’wan leave the whole country “breathless” from Covid because of your idiotic behaviour,” said Jedward who have, of course, been seeing out Covid-19 in Los Angeles with their best friend, actress Tara Reid.
Corr hit back, saying “shut you up you fools and grow a brain between you”. He later dubbed them Ireland’s Milli Vanilli” – a reference to the Grammy-winning duo later revealed to have mimed all their songs.
Were Covid-19 not so serious, the exchange might have been highly entertaining. The drama was ratcheted up further when Corr shared footage of the anti-lockdown protesters listening to Sinéad O’Connor’s version of folk standard, The Foggy Dew.
O’Connor understandably objected. “Can I please ask that selfishly unmasked crowds standing shoulder to shoulder protesting and ignoring Covid protective restrictions not use my music as if to suggest I support you in any way,” she wrote on the social media platform. “I do not.’
Rather than lash out as he had at Jedward, Corr here tried to strike a more conciliatory tone. “I admire the way you spoke out bravely in the past Sinead to much scorn at the time only to be proven right, '' he wrote. “I’m surprised however you’re not yet awake to the Plandemic, but you will be, knowing that great mind of yours x.”
“Get a life,” was her succinct response. “The FACT is that whether or not there is any conspiracy, there is a virus. Of which two people I know have died.”
Pop music doesn’t lack for people with lurid beliefs. Look at Kanye West and his remarks on slavery. Or recent anti-mask diatribes by greatest supergroup that never was, Van Morrison, Ian Brown and Noel Gallagher. Yet even by those standards, Corr stands out. What’s strangest of course is the contrast between The Corr’s music – which even fans would admit is somewhat slushy and middle-of-the-road – and his conviction that “elements within European royalty and aristocracy” are secretly manipulating the levers of global power.
I admire the way you spoke out bravely in the past Sinead to much scorn at the time only to be proven right.— Jim Corr (@Jimcorrsays) August 23, 2020
I’m surprised however you’re not yet awake to the Plandemic, but you will be, knowing that great mind of yours x https://t.co/uAKGVGfOll
Adding to the uncanniness is the fact that Corr is thoughtful and rational in person. He is certainly self-aware enough to have at least considered, and rejected, the possibility that conspiracies are a way frightened people make sense of a cruel and chaotic world.
“It's a very common psychology used to explain why people use their own ability to explain why they think critically about stuff,” he told the Belfast Telegraph in 2008. “It’s also common to say that many other truth-seekers on the planet — who have been found out to have been absolutely right about what they have been saying — that they're of unsound mind or that they've had a troubled background. I have not had a troubled background. I don't believe I'm of unsound mind.”
There were other disturbing revelations in that same interview – such as that he was a fan of Coldplay and Keane. But the message he was most eager to stress was that the people and institutions we believe to be in control are just glorified marionettes dangling on strings.
“I think that people should research for themselves and look at the reality that there's a whole secret government of the West, consisting of elements of the elite banking families and elements within European royalty and aristocracy, and it is widely believed now that the likes of Blair and Brown are both puppets way down the chain of command,” he said.
“The biggest concern to me is this push towards global governance. This push towards a one-world government. The agenda is basically to merge the European Union with the Asian Pacific Union and the African Union and the North American Union.”
Yet his beliefs seem not to have damaged to any degree the standing of The Corrs. That might be considered a surprise. If the bass player in The Killers went around claiming Mr Brightside was about the illuminati you can bet he would receive a stern talking to from Brandon Flowers. Or look at the declining fortunes of Kanye West, whose credibility shrinks every time he sends a tweet.
Yet The Corrs brand appears not to have been tarnished in the least by Jim’s beliefs. When speaking to Sharon Corr about her brother many years ago she fixed me with a steely gaze. “At the end of the day I respect my brother's rights to his own beliefs, his right to express them. They are not necessarily opinions I hold myself. Or the other members of the band…He has every right, if he truly believes something, to do it. I respect that and I love him. It's very simple.”
The recent outbursts by Noel Gallagher and Ian Brown about face-masks and the lockdown prove that guitarists from Celtic family groups do not have a monopoly on unorthodox opinions. But Jim Corr has beaten them to the punch by more than a decade. In so doing he has achieved something The Corrs could never accomplish through their music: he has made them trend-setters.