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The Airchords (1960-1973) [last year as Treetops] 
© Gerry Gallagher

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

The Story

Formed by members of the Irish Air Corps, the Airchords came together in 1960. Two years after graduating from the Technical Training Squadron, Archie Raeside was on duty one night at the Officer’s Mess gate and was visited by two former student colleagues. They were Paddy O’Meara and Sean Kinsella.

“We are thinking of forming a showband and thought you might be interested - what do you think?” the boys asked Archie. He liked the idea and was pleased they considered him for the job of trumpeter so he said, “count me in.” The original line-up included Paddy O’Meara (tenor sax), Seanie Kinsella (drums), and Archie (trumpet). Then came Arthur O'Neill (tenor and alto sax), Myles Mooney (guitar), Ernie Berkenheier (RIP-bass) and Mick McNamara (vocals).

Archie takes up the story, "Colonel W. J. Keane, our commanding officer, gave permission for us to use a room in the dining block for practice. In order to play in most dance halls and ballrooms around the country it was important to become a member of The Irish Federation of Musicians, so they were contacted and a date set for us to take the test. First we were questioned individually in the theory of music and then as a band, we performed a couple of numbers. Having passed the test and gained admittance to the federation we turned our attention to image. Like other Showbands, we appeared clean-shaven, well groomed and wearing white shirt, bow tie and a blazer, complete with pocket crest."

The band was initially managed by Nobby O'Reilly and for the first few years, like most of the showbands in the early 1960's the band continued to do their "day jobs" and it wasn't until late in 1964 that they took the major step of turning professional. They also changed managers and were then managed by Don Kinsella. A 1964 press release reported that Don was originally the trumpeter/vocalist with the band.

Archie was the first to leave the band when he was selected as the official photographer to accompany the first Irish United Nations troops to serve overseas since the foundation of the state. Details of his role and of the members of the 32nd. and 33rd. Battalions, in what was an historic and groundbreaking operation for the Irish Defence Forces are recorded in his book, The Congo-1960. Myles Mooney was also sent to the Congo and was "replaced" by Liam Hurley, who would turn out to be a significant addition to the band as he wrote songs and handled the band's musical arrangements. However, Myles did return to the band a short time later. Archie was initially replaced by Phil O'Reilly.

1965 was a big year for the band as early on the appeared on RTE's Showband Show, but around the same time, lost their lead singer, Joe Fitzmaurice who went to the Altonaires. However, his replacement would be Pat Lynch (brother of the Dixie's Steve Lynch), who came from the recently split Clipper Carlton. In 1964 the Clippers split into the Santa Fe Showband and the Clippers. Pat would guide the Airchords' fortunes until their breakup.

The band released its first single, A Knock On the Door on March 29, 1965  and Pat made his debut with the band a few weeks later on Easter Sunday, 1965. Although the record failed to make an impact on the charts, it established the Airchords as a bona fide player on the growing Irish ballroom circuit after being part time for the first five years.

The band followed with two more singles, Are You Sincere and Worry, once again neither of which made the charts, but their fortunes would soon change. In July, 1966, Danny Ellis would leave the band to join with Jim Farley's Band and he would be replaced by Dermot Ryan. Later that year, the band jumped on the growing showband ballad craze and released The Leaving of Liverpool which would crack the Irish top ten rising to number six, the band's first chart hit.

A few months later, around March, 1967, the band would be in the charts again when The Irish Soldier reached number three. However, at the same time, the band lost one of its musical mainstays when Liam Hurley left to follow Danny Ellis into Jim Farley's band. He was replaced on guitar by Pat's brother Tony Lynch, who had come from the Earl Gill's Hoedowners.

An article in the Sligo Champion's Showband column in November, 1967 reported that Aidan Hand was now the band's manager. It also told a lengthy tale of their new single being called The Chickens Round the Garden. However, we can find no record of this ever being released as at the same time, late 1967, the band had its first number one hit, Treat Me Daughter Kindly.      

In early 1969, Ernie Berkenheier, one of only three original members left would leave the band and was replaced by bassist Johnny Brown, who had been with the beat group Magazine and would soon go one to bands like The Billy Brown Band and the Real McCoy. A little later in the year another founding member of the band, Arthur O'Neill left, along with four other members in October, 1969 to form the core of a new band being put together to back former Colours vocalist Brian "Red" Hurley, brother of Liam. Dermot Ryan (sax), Arthur O'Neill (sax), Emmet Wynne (trumpet) and Myles Mooney (guitar) and Johnny Browne (bass) left to join the newly formed Wheels.

At this point, the only original member of the band left was drummer Sean Kinsella. The band needed to be rebuilt in a hurry and they brought in Norman Clifford, Dave Curran, Arthur Madden and Billy Hopkins. As with many bands of the era, major shakeups in the lineup usually signaled the beginning of the end of the band and so it was for the Airchords.

Now down to a seven piece, the band, mainly of the strength of Pat Lynch's vocals, continued to have popular records, despite the turmoil it faced in its lineup. Tony Lynch left the band in December, 1970 and emigrated (he would eventually return to Ireland). He was replaced by Fergie Burke. Just three months later, in March, 1971 Fergie was to feature on the band's next record, When We Were Young. Just before the band went into the recording studios, Dave, Arthur and Billy took up an offer to form a new band backing Paddy Day and they became the core of the Wanderin Stars. Norman Clifford also left to join Ian Corrigan's band. At this point it appears Pat was ready to call it quits, but the single was a huge hit and went to number one in the Irish charts. The split could not have come at a worse time and the only way to overcome the situation was to put together another band quickly. In an act of desperation, the entire lineup of the Regal Showband was hired to become the new Airchords.      

The band continued to release new singles including I Only Live to Love You and This is My Lovely Day, but neither made an impact on the charts. Unfortunately, in August of 1971, Fergie Burke, Arthur Madden and Billy Hopkins left the band and joined the revamped Royal Showband after the departure of Brendan Bowyer and Tom Dunphy to start the Big 8. Once again, it appeared the Airchords were finished but new musicians were found and they moved to new management in January 1972, but were soon back with Matt Nodwell in March of the same year. With this came a name change from the Airchords to the Treetops.  

The first gig we can find for the new band was in April, 1972. In June, 1972, the band announced that Derek Davis. Derek, the RTE newscaster, impersonated Big Tom on Hall's Pictorial Weekly and then went on the road for a short time as "Mean Tom." For the next year Pat Lynch, Mean Tom and the Treetops did the ballroom and carnival circuit but as far as we can tell no new records were released. In September of 1973, Pat left the band, which folded and went over to the cabaret being managed by his brother Steve Lynch who had been with the Dixies for more than a decade.   

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Airchords - 1960 (JB) Airchords Showband (JD) Airchords Showband (JD) Airchords - 1964 Airchords - 1965
Airchords Showband (PB) Airchords (GF) Airchords (GF) Airchords - 1966 (LR) Airchords-1966 (MY)
Airchords (LR) Pat Lynch - 1967 Pat Lynch - 1967 Airchords - 1967 Pat Lynch - 1967
Tony Lynch - 1967 Airchords - 1967 Airchords - 1967 Airchords - 1968 Airchords - 1968
Airchords (LR) Airchords - 1968 Airchords - 1968 Airchords - 1968 Pat Lynch - 1968
Pat Lynch - 1968 Pat Lynch - 1968 Pat Lynch - 1968 Pat Lynch - 1968 Pat Lynch & The Airchords - 1969
Airchords (LR) Airchords - 1969 Pat Lynch - 1970 Airchords - 1970 Pat Lynch - 1971

The Airchords - 1971 (KS)

Airchords - 1971 (KS) Pat Lynch - 1971 Pat Lynch - 1971 Pat Lynch - 1971
Pat Lynch - 1972

Airchords

Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords-1962 (RF)
Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF)
Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF)
Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF)
Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF)
Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (RF) Airchords (PL) Airchords (PL)
       
Airchords (PL) Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Year Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Trumpet Sax/Tromb. Sax/Accord. Guitar
1960 Mick
McNamara
Myles
Mooney
Ernie
Berkenheier
Sean
Kinsella
Archie
Raeside
Paddy
O'Meara
Arthur
O'Neil
 
1963 Joe
Fitzmaurice
Liam
Hurley
Ernie
Berkenheier
Sean
Kinsella
Phil
O'Reilly
Al
Devine
Arthur
O'Neil
Myles
Mooney
1964 Joe
Fitzmaurice
Liam
Hurley
Ernie
Berkenheier
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Al
Devine
Arthur
O'Neil
Myles
Mooney
Late
1964
Joe
Fitzmaurice
Liam
Hurley
Ernie
Berkenheier
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Danny
Ellis
Arthur
O'Neil
Myles
Mooney
Mar.
1965
Pat
Lynch
Liam
Hurley
Ernie
Berkenheier
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Danny
Ellis
Arthur
O'Neil
Myles
Mooney
July
1966
Pat
Lynch
Liam
Hurley
Ernie
Berkenheier
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Dermot
Ryan
Arthur
O'Neil
Myles
Mooney
Mar
1967
Pat
Lynch
Tony
Lynch
Ernie
Berkenheier
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Dermot
Ryan
Arthur
O'Neil
Myles
Mooney
1969 Pat
Lynch
Tony
Lynch
Johnny
Brown
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Dermot
Ryan
Arthur
O'Neil
Myles
Mooney
1969 Pat
Lynch
Tony
Lynch
Billy
Hopkins
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Arthur
Madden (Keys)
Norman
Clifford
 
1970 Pat
Lynch
Tony
Lynch
Billy
Hopkins
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Arthur
Madden (Keys)
Norman
Clifford
 
1971 Pat
Lynch
Fergie
Burke
Billy
Hopkins
Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Arthur
Madden (Keys)
Norman
Clifford
 
1971 Pat
Lynch
Unknown Unknown Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Unknown Norman
Clifford
 
1972 Pat
Lynch
Unknown Unknown Sean
Kinsella
Emmet
Wynne
Unknown Norman
Clifford
Derek Davis
Mean Tom

Discography

Singles:

A Knock On The Door / Yeah, You My Girl
Columbia Records - IDB.743 - March, 1965
Are You Sincere / Here I Stand
Columbia Records - IDB 746 - 1965
Worry / Run Samson Run
Pye Records - 7N.17075 - 1966
The Leaving Of Liverpool / Don't You Believe It - #6 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17227 - November, 1966
The Irish Soldier / Big Job - #3 Irish Charts
Pye Records -  7N.17304 - April, 1967
Treat Me Daughter Kindly / Cathedral In The Pines - #1 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17421 - November, 1967
The Ring Your Mother Wore / I'll Take You Where The Music's Playing
Pye Records - 7N.17480 - February, 1968
Kinsale / Harbour Of Love
Pye Records - 7N.17526 - May, 1968
Piccolo Man / Walking On New Grass - #16 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17614 - October, 1968
The Battle's O'er / Sing Me Back Home
Pye Records - 7N.17805 - June, 1969
Kevin Barry / Limbo Rock
Pye Records - 7N.17822 - November, 1969
Loughlin / The Streets Of Dungannon
Pye Records - 7N.17929 - 1970
When We Were Young / Hush A Bye Boy - #1 Irish Charts
Ruby Records - RUB.121 - March, 1971
Three Good Reasons / Here I Stand - #12 Irish Charts
Ruby Records - RUB.136 - August, 1971
I Only Live To Love You / Longing To Hold You
Ruby Records - RUB.148 - 1971
This Is My Lovely Day / The Banks Of My Own Lovely Lee
Ruby Records - RUB.156 - 1972

Do I Love You / Somebody To Love / Meet Me on the Corner
Ruby Records - RUB.163 - 1972

Albums:

The Irish Soldier
Marble Arch - MAL.1175 -

Audio Clips

Worry Walking On New Grass Treat Me Daughter Kindly Piccolo Man Leaving of LIverpool

Where Are They Now?  

Mick McNamara - RIP: Paddy O'Meara wrote us in May, 2012 to tell us that Mick sadly passed away in 2011.
If you know more, please let us know.
Myles Mooney: We received an email from Arthur O'Neill in June, 2011 telling us 69 year old Myles is in Australia entertaining on tour buses. From an old issue of Spotlight, we have discovered that Myles first went off to Australia in the early 70's and was playing with a group called The Drovers in Sydney in 1975. It appears from an Internet search that the Irish Drovers are still on the road (we think) in 2017! If you know more, please let us know.
Ernie Berkenheier - RIP: Ernie sadly passed away.
Sean Kinsella: We received an email from Arthur O'Neill in June, 2011 telling us that 68 year old Sean is now living in Cork with his wife and two labradores.  
Archie Raeside: Archie left the band when he was selected as the official photographer to accompany the first Irish United Nations troops to serve overseas in the Congo in 1960. Details of his role and of the members of the 32nd. and 33rd. Battalions, in what was an historic and groundbreaking operation for the Irish Defence Forces are recorded in his book, The Congo-1960.
Paddy O'Meara: Paddy now lives in Ennis, Co. Clare and in May, 2012 he stepped down as Chairman of the
Air Corps "Old Boys" after five years, but was still ;looking after the branch website and newsletter. More to come...
Arthur O'Neill: We received an email from Arthur in June, 2011 telling us he is still gigging in Ireland. He is 70 and living in Portlaoise and playing lots of golf
Joe Fitzmaurice:  Unknown, if you know more please let us know.
Liam Hurley: Liam left the Airchords and ended up in The Nevada with brother Red (Brian Hurley). He left the band after being seriously injured in a car accident. Although he never returned to the bandstand, he became one of Ireland's best known session musicians and record producers. 
Phil O'Reilly: If you know more, please let us know.
Al Devine - RIP: Al's son, Phil, emailed us recently to let us know that Al sadly passed away in March, 1998. 
Pat Lynch: After the breakup of the Treetops Pat continued to sing on the growing cabaret scene in the 1970's. He finally retired from professional performing, although we don't know what he did for the next forty years except that he still sings occasionally for nostalgia shows and charity events. If you know more, please let us know.   .
Tony Lynch: Unknown, if you know more, please let us know.
Johnny Brown: Unknown, If you know more, please let us know.
Emmett Wynne: Unknown, if you know more, please let us know..
Dermot Ryan: Unknown, if you know more, please let us know.
Billy Hopkins - RIP: After leaving the Airchords, Billy went on to play with the Royal Showband. In the early eighties, Billy joined with brother Des Hopkins to form the Cluskey Hopkins Band. The band plays jazz and has been on the road for over twenty years. They have played all the major jazz festivals in Ireland and the UK, as well as touring. They have a close association with Guinness and are the original Guinness Jazz Band. Sadly Billy passed away on the 16th February 2010.  
Arthur Madden - RIP: Arthur sadly passed away many years ago while still quite young.
Norman Clifford: Unknown, if you know more, please let us know.
Fergie Burke: Unknown, if you know more, please let us know.
Derek Davis (aka Mean Tom) - RIP: Derek went back to his regular job as a newscaster after flirting with the showband world joining RTE as a full time newscaster in 1975. After a long career as a newscaster on both TV and radio, Derek sadly passed away on May 13th, 2015 after a short illness. He was aged 67.

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