Brotherly Love Feature (1969
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
The Duggan Brothers from Sligo were one of the most unique groups to
happen upon the Irish ballroom scene in the early 70's. Not only
were they a family band (all brothers), but they wrote their own
music, specialised in tight harmony arrangements, and never gave up
their day jobs.
The band started out like most
families, each brother taking up an instrument at an early age.
Gerry and Ian played accordion, while younger brother Joss started
banging on the drums. Early on, youngest brother Vinnie was not yet
involved. In their native Sligo, they started playing in local
concerts, but soon graduated (with the addition of Vinnie on bass)
to play school dances, dinner dances and weddings. The lineup was:
Gerry (guitar), Ian (keyboards), Joss (drums) and Vinnie (bass).
By 1969, the boys were playing
dances across the Northwest.
Their first major break came when
they secured the relief band gig at the Silver Slipper Ballroom in
Strandhill run by Sean Byrne. At the time, the venue ran multiple nights every week
and provided both a showcase for the boys and their talents, as well
as an opportunity to improve their playing and songwriting skills.
They were also exposed to the top bands in the country on a
regular basis. Bobby Kelly of the Sands, tells the story about how
they gave a set of their band suits to the lads after switching to
new gear. The relief gig was, at one time, the place where many
eventual showband musicians honed their skills.
Known exclusively as the Duggans
or Duggan Brothers in those days, they played an unusual blend of
harmony pop with numbers like Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young's
Carry On as well as their own compositions. In 1972, the boys
played relief to The Mighty Avons and caught the attention of Jimmy
Smith. He immediately signed them to his own Velvet record label and
they soon released their first single, the original My Kind of Girl. It caused quite a stir locally as it was
unheard of in those days for a group (outside Dublin) to record
original material. Although it did not sell, it helped promote the
band in areas outside of Sligo as all airplay in those days was on
the national station, RTE. They were still the relief band in the
Silver Slipper as well...but the Duggans were finally on their way.
Around June, 1972 (as with most relief bands band in
the "good old days") the lure of the road beckoned and the lads
left their relief gig in the Silver Slipper to hit the road. They
had caught the eye (and ear) of the Tommy Hayden organisation and
were managed by the soon-to-be entertainment mogul, Louis
Walsh. In fact, they probably could best be described as Louis' first
band." They also had decided to change their name to "Brotherly Love."
For obvious reasons, the boys became known as Ireland's answer to
the Osmonds (who were huge at the time), a tag they never really liked, but which they could not
shake. There were very few "pop groups" in Ireland at the time as
most four piece bands tended to be playing heavier rock or blues
music, or have more members (5-8).
Prior to signing with Louis, the
boys had been managed by their father, Alfie, who continued to drive
them to gigs and help set up the gear. During this time, the boys
were all still attending school. They released their second single,
the John D'Ardis penned song, The Dark In The Dawn in 1973 again on Velvet and it got more
didn't crack the charts. More importantly though, it got the
attention of EMI records and in 1974, the band signed what was
described as a "three year deal" with the international label.
The first release on EMI was
Skooby Doo, a pop record produced by John Drummond, that did little for their careers,
but helped reinforce their "Osmonds" image. The following year they
release Sweet Summer Kisses, but again, it made little impression on
the record buying public.
Under the watchful eye of Louis,
the band was gigging around the country, but only on the weekends as
they continued their studies, preferring to build their careers
while maintaining a "semi-professional" status as musicians. This
limited their ability to crack the big time, and also they were up
against 6 and 7 piece showbands (and an increasing number of pop
bands like The Memories, Rascals and Tweed) who brought and much
bigger sound to the stage.
Throughout the 1970's the band
continued to play, travel and continue their studies and eventually
started professional careers. They eventually switched management
from Louis Walsh to Tom Kelly of Ballina who also managed the
Duskey Sisters/Fairways and
Kim Newport Band.
Unfortunately, the band never
really cracked the top of the ballroom circuit, always "little
brothers" to the larger pop and rock groups of the era. By the early
1980's, the professional side of the brothers' lives won out and
each gave up music for their careers, which were very successful.
In the last few years, brothers
Ian and Joss have started playing local pubs and functions first
under the name Take Two and now as The Duggan Brothers. Sadly, Gerry
Duggan, who built a very successful career in the architectural
field, passed away on September 13, 2008 after battling Leukemia for
several years. Youngest brother Vinnie is a retail manager in the
furniture industry in Sligo and has not gone back to music.
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