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Chips Feature (1969-1986)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?

The Story

Chips stands out as one of the most innovative bands ever to tour the Irish scene. The band's roots date back to the mid-to-late 60s with several Belfast bands, including The Dominoes, The Group, and Heart 'n Soul.

In the mid 1960's, The Dominoes were formed in Belfast as a laid back pop and soul band. By 1968, they had started to attract some attention in the local press. Included in the five member band were Bill Morrison, Dick Pentland and the late Fred Isdell. Soon to be glitter rocker, Teddie Palmer, actually sang with The Dominoes on one occasion in The Boat Club on the banks of the Lagan River.

When Dick left the band to join Heart 'n Soul, the remaining members formed The Group. Managed by Colin McClelland, the line-up was Bill Morrison (vocals and piano), Fred Isdell (bass and vocals), John Smith (drums and vocals), and Sez (Michael) Adamson (lead guitar and lead vocals).

Everything changed when Sez Adamson left the band to emigrate to South Africa. The Group needed a new lead singer and Colin and Bill decided to try a novel idea...two female singers! After a call went out for auditions, Linda Martin, still a schoolgirl, and Annie Ferguson (both of Belfast) got the jobs. It was 1969 and at around the same time, Heart n' Soul were in transition and Dick, along with a few other members of the band, decided to rejoin his old band mates in the newly formed group, Chips (photo top right - L to R): Bill Morrison (piano and vocals), Annie Ferguson (vocals), and Linda Martin (vocals), Robin Irvine (bass and vocals), Dick Pentland (organ, vocals, woodwinds), and Robin Lavery (drums and vocals).

The solid musical knowledge of the band, coupled with six voices, led to some pretty adventurous repertoire for the time. The band actually did a great version of the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" live, and included in the act were incredibly accurate cover versions of the Mamas and Papas, Fifth Dimension, and other harmony groups. The original Chips became the top pop band in Northern Ireland, were featured on TV, both North and South, and had a whole series written about them in the Belfast Telegraph, and were extensively covered in other media. They recorded one single for Emerald Records, released in the UK and Ireland.
 
In 1970, Bill Morrison left to pursue his civil service career, and was replaced by Paul Lyttle. This was to be a pivotal move for the band as Paul became the driving musical force behind the band for rest of its career. Almost more importantly, the number of band members with day jobs were outnumbered for the first time and the band turned professional. Shortly afterwards, Dick Pentland left and formed the group, Dunno, but would eventually join Clubsound and was replaced by Adrian Mullen on keyboards. Dick eventually emigrated to Canada in 1975. In a 1974 article, Adrian was described as the "band leader" but that title was really used in those days to describe the band's "arranger." 

In September, 1971, the band was involved with some controversy when their single, "Today I Killed A Man" was banned by RTE, who refused to play the song because of the tense situation in Northern Ireland. Around the same time, they pulled out of an appearance on Jimmy Saville's "Speakeasy" show on Radio One as they were unable to rearrange prior commitments (Spotlight, September 16, 1971). On the bright side, Ulster TV aired a documentary about the band in late September. However, more trouble was on the horizon for 1971's premier band.

In January 1972, Paul and girlfriend Linda quit Chips to form Lyttle People. The band's original lineup included Mike Brown (Sunshine - bass), Joe Traynor (Candy - drums), Gerry O'Neill (Gentry - keyboards), and Billy McCoy (guitar). In explaining the move Paul said, "We left Chips because they had changed. Linda and I couldn't go along with the way things were going. Lyttle People are going to do what Chips could have done." 

Meanwhile, Robin and Chips found replacements with Ken Wilson taking over on guitar, and Eleanor Cave replacing Linda as the second female vocalist and the addition of the late Damien O'Reilly as a second keyboard player (although it was reported in Spotlight that Damien was replacing Paul). Later, Nicola Kerr would join the band. The band expanded to a seven piece for the only time in their history. They were back on the road less than a month after the departure of Paul and Linda.

Eighteen months later, a report in Top Rank News of July, 1973 reported that Robin Lavery had left Chips while Lyttle People had also undergone some personnel changes. Lyttle People added Barry Woods (keyboards) and Joe Hanratty (drums) from the Newmen, along with Allan Holland (bass) and Liam Taggert (guitar) from The Friends. It was reported that Robin Lavery was going to form his own band in the Sept. 6, 1973 issue of Spotlight, but this never happened. Joe Hanratty was soon replaced by Jimmy Compton. Meanwhile, Robin was replaced in Chips by drummer Reno Smith. In the October 11, 1973 issue of Spotlight it was reported that Robin Irvine had left the band and was being replaced by Frank Boylan. 

However, all the changes made little difference as apparently Lyttle People disbanded in October, 1973. A blurb in the October 25th, 1973 issue of Spotlight announced the launch of "Original Chips." The band was reformed with Paul, Linda and Robin Lavery rejoining Robin Irvine, Adrian and Annie. Despite the name, only 4 of the 6 members were actually "original" as Adrian and Paul were not part of the original lineup of the band.    

This is the lineup pictured left: (left to right) Robin Irvine (bass), Annie Ferguson (vocals), Adrian Mullen (keyboards), Robin Lavery (drums), Linda Martin (vocals) and Paul (guitar). What is interesting is that Nicola Kerr was gone from the lineup in the "Original" Chips, but returned a few months later in 1974 when Annie left the band.

Not long after reforming, in June 1974, founding member Robin Irvine left the band to form Bananas, a rock group that played the Dublin and Belfast club scenes. Robin was joined by Ken Wilson, the guitar player with Chips during Paul Lyttle's absence. Also in the band were Mick O'Hagan (brother of Johnny Logan-vocals), Jodi Pollard (guitar) and John  Donnelly (drums). Annie Ferguson had also announced her intention to leave the band at the end of March, 1974.

In 1975, Robin and several members of the band emigrated to New York where Bananas played for about a year, only to go their separate ways by 1976. With his departure, no member of the band had been with it since the beginning and by 1975, the only "founding" member left would be Linda Martin. In 1974, the band had some measure of success in France with a single called King Kong under the name Lily and Chips.

Back at home in June, 1974, Robin was replaced by Shaun Magee, who had previously been with Sunshine (which also featured ex-Lyttle People member, Stuart Bingham). Shaun would stay with the band until 1978. 1974 was a big year for the band, as they were given their own series on BBC Northern Ireland. The show, which was sub titled, Chips and Friends featured appearances by Glen Curtin, Fran O'Toole, McMurrough and Tina. The same year they appeared on Britain's "Opportunity Knocks," and RTE's "The Likes of Mike" and "Johnny McEvoy Show."

The following year, in 1975, Nicola left and joined Dublin group, Stacc, where she met and sang with Catriona Walsh. Nicola would take part in the Irish Song Contest on several occasions: In 1976 as a backing singer for Red Hurley, in 1977 as part of the Swarbriggs Plus Two with Alma Carroll, and in 1978 with Stacc where they finished second. In 1979, both Nicola and Catriona would join Britain's popular New Seekers. Nicola was with the Seekers from February and Catriona joined in September. Both would leave the following September before striking out on her own doing musical theater in London and then back in Ireland.

Nicola was replaced by Irene McElroy who had also been a member of Sunshine. Irene stayed with the band into the 80's. Robin Lavery also left the band in 1975, reportedly to join former member Robin Irvine in Bananas in the States, although that arrangement was short-lived. He was replaced by drummer, Brian Donaghy. This lineup (seen at right) stayed together for about three years. In 1975 the band hit its stride appearing on TV a number of times including "Top of the Pops," and "Opportunity Knocks" in Britain.

In 1976, Chips toured with the Bay City Rollers, one of the world's biggest pop acts at the time. This was the "golden age" for the band. After their appearances on British TV, they were asked to tour with the Rollers and followed that up with several hit records and appearances in Ireland's National Song Contest several years running: 1976 - they placed second with We Can Fly; 1977 - they finished fourth with Goodbye Goodbye; and in 1978 - finished fourth again with Happy Days. Although they never quite got the top spot, they continued to build their reputation as one of Ireland's top pop bands. In 1977, their entry, Goodbye Goodbye failed to win, but became the top selling Irish single several weeks later, a tribute to their loyal fan base and talent.

In 1978, keyboardist Adrian Mullan left the band to team up with Des Lee and Starband. Des had originally been with the Miami which reformed in 1975 after the tragedy in which three members of the band were killed in a terrorist bombing. Steven Travers also left the Miami to start Starband. They added Aonghus McNally, a guitarist from the Celtic rock band, Mushroom who would go on to fame as a presenter with RTE television. Steven eventually went on to form rock band, The Crack, a few years later. The same year, Shaun Magee left and ended up with Gibney and Donovan.  

The band's leader, Paul Lyttle, was one of the pioneers of Irish pop music throughout the seventies and beyond. The band never played the same old top forty fare as other bands and always included songs that were more technically complex from artists such as Steely Dan. Paul is a talented songwriter, as well as a producer and guitarist.

The line up left is pictured from a December, 1978 edition of Entertainment News and is the last photo of the band we have, but we know they stayed on the road for quite a while. This line up is: (L. to R.) Brian Donaghy (drums), Linda, Paul, Irene, and Trevor England, who took over for Shaun Magee on bass and by coincidence, had also played in Sunshine!

In 1981, RTE produced a six week series called the "Best of the Bands" which featured the top Irish pop groups of the time. Along with The Memories, Shaun O'Dowd and Dingaling, Tweed, The Miami, and Colm Hughes and the Paddy Cole Superstars, Chips had their own hour long show. In 1982, Chips was in the Irish National Song Contest singing "Tissue of Lies." They placed last and it would be their last time in the contest as a group. However, Linda Martin would go on to perform in the Irish Song Contest many more times, winning it the following year with Terminal Three and winning the Eurovision in 1992 with the Johnny Logan penned Why Me?  

By the time 1983 rolled around, Paul and Linda were all that remained of this lineup. Both Irene and Brian left that year and  Paddy Duffy came in on drums, he had been the band's road manager prior to picking up the sticks! The bass player was Alan Penthanony.  

We came across an advert in the August 15, 1986 edition of the Sligo Champion which shows "Linda Martin and Chips" appearing in the Astoria Ballroom in Bundoran on August 17th. They also appeared on a UTV television special the same year and were back to a five piece. We're not sure what the lineup was except there was only one vocalist (Linda) and Paul was on keyboards (at least for that show).

Linda eventually went on to International fame by winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1992 with Why Me, a tune written by two time Eurovision winner, Johnny Logan. Linda's win started an unprecedented string of wins as Ireland took the top spot four out of the next five years! She and Johnny also teamed up in 1984 with Terminal 3 and came in second.

More to come hopefully......

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Dominoes - 1969

Auditions - 1969

Chips - 1969

Chips - 1969 (RI)

Chips - 1969

Chips - 1970

Chips - 1970 (KS)

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971 (RI)

Spotlight - 1971

Chips - 1971

Spotlight - 1971?

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Chips - 1971

Lyttle People - 1972

Chips - 1972

Chips - 1972

Chips - 1972

Chips - 1972

Chips - 1973

Chips - 1973

Chips - 1973

Chips - 1973

Annie - 1973

Chips - 1973

Chips - 1973

Chips - 1973

Chips - 1973

Chips - 1973 (RI)

Chips - 1973 (LR)

Chips - 1973

"Original" Chips - 1974

Chips - 1974

Chips - 1974

Chips - 1974 (DL)

Chips - 1974

Nicola and Linda - 1974

Chips - 1975

Chips - 1975

Chips - 1975

Bananas - 1974 (RI) Bananas Article Bananas Article II

Chips - 1975

Chips - 1975

Chips Live - mid 70's

Chips - 1976

Chips - 1976

Chips Live

Chips - 1976

Irene and Linda

Chips - 1977

Chips - 1977

Chips - 1978

Chips - 1978

Article - 1976

On The Road

Song Contest 1977

Dress Rehearsal

Chips Come Home
Linda Martin of Chips

Chips - 1980

Chips - 1980

Chips (RF) Chips (RF)
Chips (RF) Chips (RF) Chips (RF) Chips (RF) Chips (RF)
Chips (RF) Chips (RF) Chips (RF) Chips (RF) Chips (RF)
     
Chips (RF) Chips (RF)

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Linda Martin CD

1973 Single

1973 Single

Twice A Week - 1975

Love Matters Ad

         

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Years Vocals Vocals Guitar/Keyb Bass Drums Keyboards Keyboards
1969 Linda
Martin
Annie
Ferguson
Bill
Morrison
Robin
Irvine
Robin
Lavery
Dick
Pentland
 
1970 Linda
Martin
Annie
Ferguson
Paul
Lyttle
Robin
Irvine
Robin
Lavery
Dick
Pentland
 
1971 Linda
Martin
Annie
Ferguson
Paul
Lyttle
Robin
Irvine
Robin
Lavery
Adrian
Mullen
 
1972* Eleanor
Cave
Annie
Ferguson
  Robin
Irvine
Robin
Lavery
Adrian
Mullen
Damien
O'Reilly
Aug
1972*
Nicola
Kerr
Annie
Ferguson
Ken
WIlson
Robin
Irvine
Robin
Lavery
Adrian
Mullen
Damien
O'Reilly
Oct
1973*
Nicola
Kerr
Annie
Ferguson
Ken
WIlson
Frank
Boylan
Reno
Smith
Adrian
Mullen
Damien
O'Reilly
1974 Linda
Martin
Annie
Ferguson
Paul
Lyttle
Robin
Irvine
Robin
Lavery
Adrian
Mullen
 
March
1974
Linda
Martin
Nicola
Kerr
Paul
Lyttle
Shaun
Magee
Robin
Lavery
Adrian
Mullen
1975 Linda
Martin
Irene
McElroy
Paul
Lyttle
Shaun
Magee
Robin
Lavery
Adrian
Mullen
1975 Linda
Martin
Irene
McElroy
Paul
Lyttle
Shaun
Magee
Brian
Donaghey
Adrian
Mullen
1978 Linda
Martin
Irene
McElroy
Paul
Lyttle
Trevor
England
Brian
Donaghey
Adrian
Mullen
1978 Linda
Martin
Irene
McElroy
Paul
Lyttle
Trevor
England
Brian
Donaghey
1983 Linda
Martin
Paul
Lyttle
Alan
Penthanony
Paddy
Duffy

Unknown

*In 1972, Paul and Linda left to form Lyttle People. Nicola Kerr joined the band, as well as two other musicians (Ken Wilson and Damien O'Reilly), making the band a seven piece (see 1973 photo above). When Paul and Linda returned, Nicola left and was not part of the new "Original Chips" but was back a short time later when Annie Ferguson left.  

Discography

Singles:

Chips Album
(Click to enlarge)

Album Credits
(Click to enlarge)

Today I Killed A Man / Quintan Sunday
Polydor Records - Unknown - 1971
Sock It To 'Em Sister Nell / Let Us Learn To Love One Another
M & M Records - FFM 10005 - May, 1971
Open Your Eyes / Earth
Forever Record (Release) - FOR 1 - June, 1973
King Kong / Love For An Angel (Released as "Lily and Chips")
Decca Records - unknown - February, 1974
My World / After The Goldrush
Polydor Records - 2078 044 - August, 1974
Love Matters / Gentle Teacher - #6 Irish Charts
Decca Records - FR 13574 - April, 1975
Twice A Week / Reelin' In The Years - #13 Irish Charts
Rex Records - R.11104 - June, 1975
Goodbye Goodbye / Just A Little Bit Longer - #2 Irish Charts
Decca Records - R.11116 - April, 1976
I'm A Song, Sing Me / We Can Fly
Decca Records - FR 13632 - November, 1976
Shine A Light / Living Is Ours
Decca Records - FR 13687 - February, 1977
Here In My Arms (or It's Over) / Our Love Will Grow and Grow
Rex Records - R.11118 - March, 1978
The Sooner the Better / I Want to Celebrate Our Love
Decca Records - FR 13802 - September, 1978
Automobile / Put On Your Dancing Shoes
Spider Records - WEB 018 - June, 1980
New Romance (It's A Mystery) / After The Goldrush / New Day
Spider Records - WEB 046 - 1981
David's Song / Celebrate The Love - #13 Irish Charts
WEA records - IR.18942 - January, 1982
Day After Day / Good Morning
CBS Records - A 2366 - 1982

Album:

Chips album (above), simply entitled "Chips" was released by Decca on their Rex label in mid-1978 and featured several of the band's early singles, as well as some new material. The album was produced by Nick Tauber, who also did Thin Lizzy's first major hit, Whiskey in the Jar. The arranger, Colin Frechter, worked on the Bay City Roller's recordings. Finally, the Executive Producer was Frank Rodgers, brother of international singing star, Clodagh Rodgers.

Audio Clips

Where Are They Now?  

Linda Martin: Linda was the only original band member still there at the end of the band's career, almost twenty years (except for her stint with Lyttle People in 1973). Along with Paul (who joined a year after they started), she stayed until the band called it quits in the late 1980's. Linda went on to a successful solo career, winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1992. She recently released a solo CD entitled, You Needed Me, a collection of love songs.
Annie Ferguson: Unknown - if you have info please email us 
Bill Morrison: After leaving Chips, Bill played for a time with the band, Dunno. He then left Ireland to live in St Lucia and on his return in 1981 brought about a reunion of the original Dominoes. He has continued as lead guitarist and singer with the Dominoes to the present day. He is an architect-planner now living back in his hometown, Belfast.
Robin Irvine: Robin, of course, left Chips and formed Bananas which played the Dublin and Belfast club scenes in 1974. In 1975, he emigrated to the States to play with a couple of members of Bananas and was joined by Robin Lavery when he left Chips. We received an email from Robin and he tells us that over the years he has worked as a musician, a roadie, a sound man, a tour manager and since 2001, a boat salesman. Today he is married with 3 girls and live in Westchester County, New York about 20 miles north of Manhattan, but, in his own words, "sadly I do not play any more."
Robin Lavery:  The last report of Robin is that he was working in Crymbals Music Store in Belfast, but that was some years ago. As far as we know, he is living in Bangor and still gives regularly with several of the musicians who were part of Dunno and the John Smith Band in the 1960's. Our thanks to Robin Irvine for the update.
Dick Pentland: When Chips went fulltime pro in 1972, Dick left to form Dunno with other former Dominoes members. When this broke up, he joined Clubsound, playing keyboards, tenor sax and percussion. While in Clubsound he played baritone sax with the BBC big band. He gave it all up in 1974, and emigrated to Canada in 1975, where he still lives in Nova Scotia. He works as a management consultant to the international port industry.

Paul Lyttle: Paul is currently (August, 2011) the representative for Marshall Amplification in Ireland. This comes after several years as the Retail Manager with X Music, the largest music retailer in Ireland. Previously he had been the manager with Music Maker. Additionally, he is still playing, these days with Tequila Sunrise doing weddings and corporate gigs. The band, which has been on the road since the early 80's, also features Joanna Farrell.  

Adrian Mullen: Keyboard player Adrian left the band in 1978, shortly after Shaun Magee to join the newly formed Starband with Des Lee. He still plays in and around Dublin with a two man show and performs in the Middle East from time to time. In 2012, we saw Adrian playing keyboards with Dickie Rock's band on RTE television.
Nicola Kerr: After leaving Chips, Nicola spent time around Dublin doing session work and was in the Irish Song Contest every year from 1976-1978 with different groups. She joined Stacc in 1978 and then went to England and joined the New Seekers in 1979 through Sept, 1980. During the eighties she lived in England and sang with such popular acts as Murray Head and Level 42, appearing on numerous TV shows, including Top of the Pops. In 1994 she looked after a sick friend's children and got the idea for the business which she now runs. In 2008, she released Sleepytime Lullabies, a CD of children's lullabies designed to help infants and young children get to sleep.   
Shaun Magee: After leaving Chips, Shaun went on to play with Gibney and Donovan, Sheeba, The Joe Cuddy Band and finally Vienna (with Dee Mahon, formerly Julie of Starband) before emigrating to Canada in 1985. Today, Shaun lives and works in Toronto where he manages a construction company. We thank him for all his help in putting together this feature.
Irene McElroy: After leaving the band, Irene moved to Scotland where she teamed up with Alex Mathieson and they toured Scotland and the North of England, before moving to Tenerife where they stayed for four years. Irene then came home to Ireland and did not sing for a couple of years, until she met Jerry McLarnon and they have played together for five years under the name It Takes Two. She lives in Ballymena, County Antrim with her husband, Derek Archibald and we thank them for the update.
Brian Donaghy: Brian lives in Dublin and works as a travel agent, but still plays in local clubs. In a recent email, Brian confirmed that information.
Trevor England: Our thanks to Joe Reid, who told David Martin that up until recently, Trevor was teaching in a school in Belfast. We understand that as of March 5, 2008, Trevor is teaching music in SERC College in Bangor, Northern Ireland. Our thanks for the update. If you have more info please email us
  Anthony Pentanony: Unknown - if you have info please email us
  Paddy Duffy: Unknown - if you have info please email us

 


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