How Sam Fender's Dead Boys song saved a man's life

9 June 2023, 18:40 | Updated: 25 April 2024, 10:43

Sam Fender on how Dead Boys saved man's life

The emotive track is much-loved among Sam Fender's fans, but do you know about the song's heartbreaking inspiration?

Content warning: this article discusses suicide

There's no denying the talent Sam Fender has or the energy of the crowd during his gigs, as his two homecoming shows at St James' Park in Newcastle will no doubt demonstrate.

The modern classic Seventeen Going Under might get the biggest response of the night, but no track is more emotive or poignant when performed live than Fender's Dead Boys track.

But why does it prompt such a strong reaction among fans? Find out more about the song here.

READ MORE: What inspired Sam Fender to write Hypersonic Missiles?

Sam Fender Dead Boys (Radio X session)

Appearing on his 2018 EP of the same name and later making it onto his 2019 debut album Hypersonic Missiles, the mournful Dead Boys deals with the tragic topic of male suicide.

In fact, it was inspired by friend of the Geordie singer-songwriter, who sadly took his own life.

"We close our eyes/Learn our pain/Nobody ever could explain/All the dead boys in our hometown"

Sam Fender in September 2021
Sam Fender in September 2021. Picture: Kevin Nixon/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Speaking about the heartbreaking inspiration for the track, he revealed: "I wrote that song purely as a reaction to losing a mate to suicide, and I didn't want to release it for ages because I didn't want to be seen as capitalising on a tragedy or using suicide as a way to be controversial.

"So for ages I didn't know whether to release it or not and then I just kind of played it to my internal team kind of opened up about it. And people who I worked with who I never knew had experienced suicide would be like, 'my dad took his life when I was a kid".

Sam Fender at De Monfort Hall in Leicester, 13th September 2021.
Sam Fender at De Monfort Hall in Leicester, 13th September 2021. Picture: Kevin Nixon/Future Publishing via Getty Images

He added: "And it kind of just highlighted that not many people talk about it, that there's still a lot of stigma involved. And then because experiencing it, and I knew people In my home town had done it, you became more sensitive to it to the point where the stats and all of that were starting to make sense."

READ MORE: Richard Ashcroft Responds To Fan Who Says His Music Prevented His Suicide

However, the tragedy of his friend's suicide is not where the story of Dead Boys ends. Not only did his song allow Sam to heal and open up a discourse about suicide, it also saved a man's life who happened to be listening to an interview about the song.

"It's definitely done more good than it did bad," mused Fender about his decision to share the track.

"There was a guy who was on his way to kill himself and he was driving his car. He was going to drive his car off the road and I was on [the radio] and doing a chat about Dead Boys and singing a song and [the presenter] got an email six months later and I got tied into the email as well, and it was basically saying that he heard what was on the radio and because of that chat on the show he pulled over, cried his eyes out, went home to his wife and said he needed help..."

Sam Fender playing Victorious Festival in August 2022
Sam Fender playing Victorious Festival in August 2022. Picture: Getty

The Play God singer continued: "And he came to a show six months later. I met him and I had no idea what to say to him. Obviously I'm not a doctor and I'm not a therapist, and I'm never going to overestimate the clout of my job. I'm a singer-songwriter.

"I'm primarily here to entertain people. That is my job. I'm here to make people's lives a bit easier [...] but there's these tiny little moments in my career that have gave it a little bit more clout than I ever thought it would have. And for a split second it wasn't this self-serving vacuous job that it can be, 'cause it can make you feel so self-centred."

Fender concluded: "There's moments like that that make you think, 'you know what, maybe this has more meaning to it than I thought it did'".

Sam Fender at TRNSMT Festival in 2022
Sam Fender at TRNSMT Festival in 2022. Picture: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns/Getty Images

If you or anyone you know has been affected by this story, please seek help from the helplines below:

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