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The Cadets Showband (1961-1970)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?
Please note: some parts of this feature may not yet be complete...but we are working on it!

The Story

Some showbands end up attracting a lot of attention and Eileen Reid and her Cadets are one such band. Eileen, complete with her blonde beehive hairdo and interesting costume choices (for the day) was really Ireland's first female showband superstar and was actually the only Irish female singer to have a number one hit in the sixties with "Fallen Star."

Eileen had been playing around Dublin with The Melody Makers, a local band that was moderately successful locally. Pat Murphy picked up the story in the April 13, 1968 issue of Spotlight, "I began organising the Cadets inn October, 1961, but we didn't make our first appearance until Christmas of that year."

Pat credits John Hardy of the Blue Clavons with suggesting Eileen Reid to him and they went along to hear Eileen and her band in Jacob's Hall. The nucleus of the band was The Melochords, another popular Dublin band (and former band of Dickie Rock) and The Cadets were born. However, Eileen was not a popular choice with the band members as they wanted to bring back Dickie to front the new band. Dickie had previously left The Melochords to form his own group, The Echoes. Despite their protests, Tom Costello, the band's manager, knew promoters were looking for something special and he went with Eileen. The original lineup of the Cadets was: Eileen Reid (vocals), Pat Murphy (harmonica), Jas Fagan (trombone), Gerry Hayes (keyboards), Brendan O'Connell (guitar), Jimmy Day (sax/guitar), Noel McGann (bass), and Ian McGarry (drums). They opened on the 23rd of December in the Crystal Ballroom in Dublin and a few nights later played St. Stephen's night in the Garda Club in Dublin.

At first, the band did not do well in Dublin and spent a year traveling around Ireland trying to make a break through. They did well in the North though. Said Pat, "Inside a few months we were among the top three bands in the North." Within a year, Eileen started to date the band's sax player, Jimmy Day, whom she would eventually marry. Like many of the early showbands, The Cadets got their shot at international stardom and appeared on several TV shows in the U.K. On July 13, 1963 they became the first Irish showband to appear on the ITV programme, Thank Your Lucky Stars, sharing the stage with "newcomers" Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones. Eileen once recounted that Mick was really taken with their snappy outfits. They made their Irish TV debut on The Showband Show. During this period, they also toured America and were even given their own show on Radio Eireann, called Carnival Time with the Cadets.

The band toured with Johnny and June Cash when they came to Ireland in October, 1963. The highlight of the tour was a concert in the National Stadium in Dublin. Eileen and the Cadets were introduced as a major force in the Irish music scene to The Beatles when they came to Dublin in November 1963. That same year, the Cadets became one of the first Irish showbands to have a single released, Hello Trouble.

After the release of Hello Trouble on Decca, the band switched to Pye Records and were soon number 1 in Ireland with their version of Jim Reevesí Fallen Star. On May 25, 1964, Eileen became the first, and only, 60's Showband female vocalist to have a number one hit on the Irish charts, and the third showband overall, behind only the Royal and Miami to top the Irish charts. In late 1964, they charted with their most famous song, I Gave My Wedding Dress Away. For this melancholy country ballad, Eileen regularly appeared onstage dressed in a wedding dress, which caused a minor sensation at the time.

In late 1965, Patrick Murphy was replaced with singer, Paul "Bat" Green, a move which gave the band more range on stage, as well as a male counter to Eileen.  

The band's first LP simply named The Cadets was a capsule version of their stage act and featured every vocal and instrumental talent that they had. Their next release Are You Teasin' Me, was a hit in Ireland but did not make any impression in Britain. The Cadets did however, make it into the British charts for one week in June 1965 with Jealous Heart.

In April, 1966, even though Eileen was the number one female vocalist in the country, management decided to replace male vocalist Paul Green with Gregory Donaghy from Sion Mills, Co. Tyrone (who had formerly been with the Polka Dots), and he became the life and soul of the party. The band would hit number one again in 1966, when Gregory topped the Irish charts with More Than Yesterday only two months after joining the band. The Cadets were considered one of Ireland's showband royalty, and one of the top ten showbands of the era, along with such legends as The Capitol, The Royal, The Miami, and The Clipper Carlton. The Cadets continued to tour the showband circuit and notched up an impressive run of hits including Right Or Wrong, If I Had My Life To Live Over, At The Close Of A Long Day and Land Of Gingerbread.

The June 22, 1968 issue of Spotlight ran two conflicting blurbs about Eileen's retirement from the Cadets. The first announced her final Dublin appearance was scheduled for the Ierne Club on June 19th and the second said her last gig with the band would be the Television Club on June 22nd. In the article she warned other girls about getting involved with the showband scene, "I would not recommend it to any girl-unless they had a great bunch of lads like the Cadets to work with, and then only for a few years." (6-22-68)

She and Jimmy were scheduled to be married on the 24th of June. After a rocky courtship, Jimmy and Eileen finally got married and the following April, Eileen had her first child, a daughter named Pamela.

The band continued on without her, and released several records, but had no more records in the Irish Charts. By early 1970 The Cadets were beginning to lose musical direction. Jimmy decided that he had enough of traveling and went into his family's taxi business and The Cadets were no more. Noel McGann (bass) and Brendan O'Connell (guitar) teamed up with Johnny McEvoy and formed a country band for the ballroom circuit. Eventually Jimmy and Eileen decided they would do cabaret together. Jimmy had been working as a compere in cabaret lounges around Dublin and had a three night a week residency in the Central Lounge in Balbriggan. Jas Fagan and Paddy Burns formed the Sun Valley Boys with Dennis Bowler taking up lead vocals with the country band.

Although Eileen left the Irish scene for a while in late 1971 she was back fronting a new band, 2nd Sound. For several weeks in 1971 it was looking like Eileen would be joining with George Kaye (Smokeys) to form a new band. After several weeks of speculation George formed a four piece bluegrass band before returning to join Pat Ely in the Rocky Tops. In the meantime, part of his band joined with Eileen and 2nd Sound was formed. The band featured Eileen on vocals along with husband Jimmy Day (sax), Joe Murray (keyboards), Joe Holleran (guitar), Shay Cribben (bass), Bobby Clarke (trumpet), Colm Graham (guitar) and Paddy Higgins (drums). 

Through the mid-seventies, Eileen and Jimmy performed on the Dublin cabaret circuit, but she soon started to perform in annual pantomimes in Dublin. During the 1990s Eileen tried her hand at acting and had small parts in The Commitments (1991), Against All Odds, A Man of No Importance (1994), and Moll Flanders (1995). These days, Eileen has her own show on RTE radio.

Gregory Donaghy joined up with Maisie McDaniel in the relatively short lived Nashville Ramblers (Maisie left the band and it eventually folded in 1971/72) and then he formed a band called The Gregory Trio (our thanks Dave Fleming for the info) but he eventually emigrated to Canada in 1974 where he joined The Carlton Showband, a Canadian band which was started in 1963 by a group of Irish ex-patriots and enjoyed a career that lasted until 1996 when the band finally retired after 33 years and 34 albums to their credit. In the 90's he released a solo album, Through the Eyes of an Irishman and he still lives and performs in Newfoundland.

These days, it seems like songs by The Cadets appear on more Irish Showband compilations than almost anyone else from the era, a testament to their popularity. Unlike many of their counterparts though (who were able to reinvented themselves and continue through the seventies and beyond), The Cadets called it quits after less than a decade and, much like the Beatles (who they once met), they live on today through their music and memories only. 

The band would go back on the road for a time in 1987, but we don't know for how long.

*Some information for this article from Send 'Em Home Sweatin' by Vincent Power.    

Photo Gallery

Click on thumbnails for full images

Cadets Showband - 1964 (JD) Cadets Showband - 1964 (DL) Cadets Showband - 1964 (LR) Cadets Showband - 1965 (JD) Cadets Showband - 1965 (JD)
Cadets Showband - 1965 (DL) The Cadets - 1966 Cadets Showband (LR) Cadets Showband - 1966 (LR) Cadets Showband - 1968 (JD)
Cadets - 1968 (BY) Cadets Fan Club Gregory Cadets Showband Eileen & Gregory - 1966
Gregory - 1966 Cadets - 1965 The Cadets The Cadets & Stones The Cadets
The Cadets The Cadets & Beatles Eileen & Jimmy 1967 Cadets

Cadets

Cadets - 1963 Cadets - 1968 Cadets - 1967 Cadets - 1968 Cadets - 1968
Cadets - 1967 Gregory - 1969 Gregory - 1967 Gregory - 1967 Gregory - 1968
Gregory - 1967 Gregory - 1967 Gregory - 1967 Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF)
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Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF)
Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF)
Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF)
Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF)
Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF)
Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Cadets (RF) Eileen - 1968 Eileen - 1968
Eileen - 1968 Eileen - 1968 Eileen - 1967 Eileen - 1969 Cadets
Cadets (PL) Cadets (PL) Cadets (PL) Cadets (PL) Cadets (PL)
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Cadets (PL) Cadets - 1962 Cadets - 1961 Cadets - 1987 Coming Soon
         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Record Sleeves
     
A - Cadets - 1966 B - Cadets - 1966 Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Lineup Changes

Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Harm./Vcls Trumpet Sax Trombone
Dec
1961
Eileen
Reid 
Brendan
O'Connell
Noel
McGann
Ian
McGarry
Gerry
Hayes
Patrick
Murphy
  Jimmy
Day
Jas
Fagan
62-65 Eileen
Reid 
Brendan
O'Connell
Noel
McGann
William
Devey
Gerry
Hayes
Patrick
Murphy
Paddy
Burns
Jimmy
Day
Jas
Fagan
Mid
65-66
Eileen
Reidx
Brendan
O'Connellx
Noel
McGannx
William
Deeveyx
Gerry
Hayes
Pat "Bat"
Green
Paddy
Burnsx
Jimmy
Dayx
Jas
Faganx
66-68 Eileen
Reid
Brendan
O'Connell
Noel
McGann
William
Deevey
Gerry
Hayes
Gregory
Donaghy
Paddy
Burns
Jimmy
Day
Jas
Fagan
June
68-70
  Brendan
O'Connell
Noel
McGann
William
Deevey
  Gregory
Donaghy
Paddy
Burns
Jimmy
Day
Jas
Fagan

Discography:

Singles:

Hello Trouble / Our Quarrel (Eileen Reid)
Decca Records - F11677 - 1963
Fallen Star / Heartbreak USA
(Eileen Reid) - #1 Irish Charts
Columbia Records - IDB.740 - March, 1964
It Is No Secret / We Shall Remember
(Eileen Reid)
Columbia Records - IDB.741 - June, 1964
Little Rosa
(Eileen Reid)
Pye Records - 1964
Royal Garden Blues
(Eileen Reid)
Pye Records - 1964
I Gave My Wedding Dress Away / Chapel of Love
(Eileen Reid) - #4 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15963
- September, 1964
Are you Teasing Me? / My Heart Skips A Beat
(Eileen Reid)
Pye Records - 7N.15769 - January, 1965
Right or Wrong / Jealous Heart
- #7 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15852 - May, 1965
Baby Roo / Raining In My Heart (Eileen Reid)
Pye Records - 7N.15942 - November, 1965

True Love
(Eileen Reid)
Pye Records - 1966
If I Had My Life to Live Over / Best of All
(Eileen Reid) - #4 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17024 - January, 1966
More Than Yesterday / Walk With Faith In Your Heart
(Gregory Donaghy) - #1 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17128 - June, 1966
At The Close of a Long Day / True Love
(Gregory Donaghy) - #9 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17167 - October, 1966
The Best Part of Loving You / Harbour Lights
(Gregory Donaghy) - #16 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17270 - March, 1967
Mama Don't Cry At My Wedding / The Man Who Makes The Music (Eileen Reid)
Pye Records - 7N.17311 - May, 1967
Land of Gingerbread / Girl of My Dreams
(Gregory Donaghy) - #9 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17349 - July, 1967
Have I Told You Lately That I Love You / Naughty Little Girl
(Gregory Donaghy)
Pye Records - 7N.17471 - 1968
Angeline / C'mon Marianne
(Gregory Donaghy)
Pye Records - 7N.17638 - 1968
The Dying Ranger / Astoreen Bawn
(Gregory Donaghy)
Pye Records - 7N.17762 - 1969

Albums:

The Cadets
PYE Golden Guinea Records - NPL.30054 - 1963

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?   (More to come)

Eileen Reid: After leaving the Cadets, Eileen embarked on a career in live theatre in and around Dublin, and got very involved in pantomime...but has done far more in recent years. She has tried her hand at acting (appearing in the hit movie The Commitments), and has taken part in many television shows on RTE. In 1992 she became a lay Carmelite. She continues to be a force on the Irish entertainment scene. Today, Eileen lives in Prosperous, County Kildare and still gigs with Jimmy in their band, The Bees Knees.
Brendan O'Connell: After the Cadets broke up, Brendan joined with Noel McGann to make up the lineup of Johnny McEvoy's new country band in May, 1970. Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Noel McGann: After the Cadets broke up, Noel joined with Brendan O'Connell to make up the lineup of Johnny McEvoy's new country band in May, 1970.  Unknown - if you have info please email us 
William Devey: RIP - William sadly passed away in May 2004.
Gerry Hayes:   Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Patrick Murphy:   Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Paddy Burns:   Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Jimmy Day: After leaving the band, Jimmy and Eileen started a cabaret act performing around Dublin and has three children. Today, Jimmy and Eileen are still together (despite some rough years). They live in County Kildare and still play regular doing wedding and corporate gigs with their band, Bees Knees.
Jas Fagan - RIP: We received an email in September, 2017 that Jas sadly passed away some years ago (possibly 2012?). We know that after his showband days he worked as a tailor making outfits for many bands and singers on the Irish scene.
If you have any additional info please email us
 
Pat "Bat" Green:  Pat is married with two daughters and a son and lives in Birmingham. Although he retired a few years ago he continues to perform in pub and clubs around the English midlands. (info from his daughter Sharon) 
Gregory Donaghy: Gregory emigrated to Canada shortly after the Cadets broke up and joined the Carlton Showband. After a long career, The Carlton finally packed it in 1996 but Gregory still lives in Newfoundland and performs regularly in both Canada and Ireland.

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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006