His high, quavering delivery helped give the New Wave band the Undertones their identity, beginning with the 1978 EP recording debut Teenage Kicks.
While with the Northern Irish band, Sharkey sang about teenage angst as the band played spirited punky pop. After the group disbanded in 1983, brothers Sean O'Neill and Damian O'Neill formed That Petrol Emotion, while Sharkey went solo. A singer with an instantly recognizable voice, he broke through to a wider audience with an inspired cover of Maria McKee's "A Good Heart" from his solo debut, reaching the top of the U.K. charts. Helped greatly by producer Dave Stewart of Eurythmics and arranger Michael Kamen on his solo debut, Sharkey never reached those heights again. He sang on the 1983 EP Never Never by the Assembly, a short-lived band formed by former Yaz member Vince Clarke. Sharkey released Wish in 1988, but his recording career was essentially done. ~ Mark Allan, Rovi