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The Capitol Showband (1960-1972)

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

The Story

Written by Gerry Gallagher and John Baird

The story of one of Ireland's greatest showbands, The Capitol, really starts in 1958 when James "Butch" Moore, a printing apprentice by day, left the Melochords (a band he had formed in the mid 1950's) and joined the popular Dublin band, The Blue Clavons. At a time when many of the bands that would populate the showband boom were actually resident bands for a specific ballroom (and playing semi-professionally), the Clavons were setting attendance records at the Olympic Ballroom in Dublin. It was during this period that Butch first met Des Kelly at a gig in Galway. 

Down in Galway, in the early 50's, brothers Des and Johnny Kelly joined with sister, Bernie and other local musicians to form the Quicksilver Dance Band. The lineup included Michael Costello, Joe Morris, Joe Killarney and Bridie Carrick. (Christy Dooley, Mickey Devaney and Frank O'Brien would also play with the band at different times). 

In 1959, having learned his craft with the Quicksilver Dance Band, Des moved to Dublin in the middle of his college studies to complete an agricultural degree at UCD and the Quicksilvers were disbanded. In Dublin, Des met Paul Sweeney (trumpet) and Eamonn Monaghan (piano) and together with drummer Tommy McNamara, they started gigging around town as the Claddagh Quartet. That summer, Paul and Eamonn went to Galway and together with former members of The Quicksilver Band (Johnny Kelly, Christy Dooley, and Mickey Devaney), played the area as The Des Kelly Band.

When the lads returned to Dublin to continue their studies, they were spotted by manager Tom Doherty (brother of Jim) who convinced them they should form a showband. Tom like the Royal's idea of using the name of a theatre and the fact that the name didn't have too many letters for posters and publicity materials. Starting first as a semi pro outfit (needing to continue their studies) the band drafted Eddie Ryan (sax) and Pat Loughman (trombone).  

Meanwhile, in 1960, Butch was recommended to the Billy Carter Band (resident in the National Ballroom) and he promptly left the Blue Clavons and joined Billy, further honing his skills both on guitar and as a singer. 

Des wanted Jimmy Hogan (guitar) from the Clavons to join their band, but unfortunately, Jimmy had to play out his time with the band so Galway man Joe Dolan stood in on guitar for a couple of months. Des' brother, Johnny, came up from Galway to join the band and Pat Loughman (trombone), Paul Sweeney (trumpet), and Eddie Ryan (sax) filled out the lineup. Shortly thereafter, Des recruited Butch from the Billy Carter band as well and the Capitol were ready to hit the road on a semi pro basis. 

In a 1968 Spotlight article, leader Des Kelly said, "...we had another long talk and we decided it was either stop being musicians and get down to serious study or give up the idea of a university education and turn professional."  In June, 1961, after playing around Dublin, the band decided to go professional with Jim Doherty (brother of Miami manager Tom) as their manager. However, Loughman and Ryan decided to stay with their day jobs and were replaced by Don Long of Cork (formerly with the Donie Collins Band) on trombone and Paddy Cole (of the Maurice Lynch Band) from Castleblaney on sax.

Now set, the band took the nation by storm, soon drawing crowds that rivaled The Royal and Clipper Carlton. In 1961, they did their first tour of the United States during the Lent season when the Irish ballrooms closed down. In 1963, they became the first showband to appear on RTE Television when they joined Sligo based singer, Maisie McDaniel on her half hour show (Maisie would be recruited by The Nevada in 1965 but did play for long because of an injury).

In 1963, after the band's second trip to the United States, Paul Sweeney quit to return to his architectural studies and was replaced by Corkman, Bram McCarthy, who was recommended by Don Long. In late 1963, following the success of the Royal Showband's single, Come Down The Mountain Katy Daly (the first single by a showband), the Capitol recorded young songwriter, Phil Coulter's tune, Foolin' Time, which reached number 3 in the Irish charts in February, 1964. They followed with another Coulter song, I Missed You. Also in May, 1964 the Capitol became the first showband to appear on the very popular Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

In 1965, Butch was chosen as Ireland's first representative in the Eurovision Song Contest which was held in Naples, Italy. The entry, Walking The Streets In The Rain, became his third consecutive Irish Number One, although Ireland finished a respectable sixth in the Eurovision voting. With the success at Eurovision, the Capitol became even more popular and outdrew even the Royal in some venues.

1965 and 1966 were banner years for the band. The crowds were huge, the money was fantastic and the band lived it up at home and abroad. Eventually though, in September 1966, Butch Moore was drawn away from the band by a lucrative offer. He was offered a solo career which would include stints in Las Vegas, but it never really materialized.

By 1967, Butch was playing the fledgling cabaret circuit in Ireland with a trio featuring his brother, Des Moore on guitar. After two years though, he decided to emigrate to the United States where he rebuilt his career and lived until his death in 2001.

Meanwhile, the Capitol was decimated. Although comprised of the country's top musical talent, Butch had been the main attraction and his departure left a gaping hole. At one point Johnny McEvoy was rumoured to be a possible replacement, but in the end Butch was replaced by Noel McNeil. However, Noel's time with the band was limited as he was not happy traveling. In an article in Spotlight magazine Jim Hand, the band's manager in the late sixties, said Noel was joining Tommy O'Brien's band in Clery's Ballroom. Noel was replaced by John Drummond in July, 1967. John from Scotland, was also an excellent musician who had been doing session work in London and would eventually become one of the top session musicians in Ireland. Initially he played rhythm guitar and was the lead vocalist.

Also in 1967, Des tried his hand at recording with a country number, The Streets of Baltimore...it went to Number 3 in the Irish Charts. Later the same year, brother Johnny had a massive hit with Black Velvet Band, which stayed in the Irish charts for 23 weeks and hit number one in June.  The hit records helped keep the band in the public eye and they continued to draw well. In late 1967, the band did a ten day tour of the United States without Johnny who had to stay in Ireland for a hernia operation. In his place Frank Darcy from Louth stepped in on drums. Also in late 1967 John Drummond announced he was applying for Irish citizenship. In November, 1967 an article in Spotlight announced that Des was leaving the band temporarily due to a bout of pneumonia which had continued to bothered him since August. It was reported that he would return by Christmas.  

In 1969, Des came down with another bad case of pneumonia from which he took a long time to recover and he decided to call it quits, moving into management. In February, 1969, the band headed off to Canada for a six week tour, presumably for the Lent break in Irish Halls. Sometime in mid 69 John Drummond moved over to play bass. Also, in an article in Spotlight on 5th September, 1969 the band announced John was leaving to take an A&R job with Eamonn Andrews Studios. The article also said he would be staying with the band until a new lead singer was found.

A few weeks later the band announced the addition of Tony Leary as lead vocalist, Mike Dalton as the new bass player and Mickey O'Neill on drums. At the same time Don Long left the band and emigrated to Manchester and Johnny Kelly left to manage the new Virginians band which featured Charlie Arkin and Basil Hendricks, two top country musicians. The lineup was rounded out with Paddy, Eamonn, Bram and Jimmy. 

In late January, 1970, it was reported in Spotlight that Tony O'Leary had been selected to sing in the National Song Contest after Joe Dolan passed on the opportunity. Along with Tony Kenny, they were the only showband singers in the contest that year. Unfortunately for both of them, it was also the year Dana sang "All Kinds of Everything" which won the Eurovision, giving Ireland its first win in just its sixth year taking part in the contest.  

In early 1970, Jimmy Hogan and Eamonn Monaghan decided to form their own band called the Cabaret All Stars and left the ballroom circuit. Within a short time, they changed the name to the Spotlights Banjo Band (or the Spotlights). In 1970, they released several singles including "Maguerite" and "Smokey Hollow," but did not have much success. The other members of the four piece group were Mike Short (bass) and Kevin Brady (drums).

The final phase of the Capitol included none of the original members...only Paddy Cole and Bram McCarthy remained from the band's heyday. The band replaced Jimmy with Frank Murray on guitar and played for the best part of a year as a six piece. However, in November, 1970, they added Stan Burns from Sligo (sax-formerly with Jack Ruane's Band) to beef up their sound. In fact at the time, Bram McCarthy was quoted in Spotlight as saying once in a while the relief group had more members than the Capitol.

Although still a great band musically, the magic of the Capitol was gone. Throughout 1970 and into 1971, the band played to ever smaller crowds. Finally, Paddy and Mickey were offered jobs in Brendan Bowyer's Big Eight band which played much of the year in Las Vegas. They stayed in Ireland rehearsing while the rest of the Capitol went on an extended tour of Canada. Mickey was replaced by Eamonn Donnelly who had previously been with The Mexicans. By November 1971, the band broke up with Tony O'Leary, Bram McCarthy and Mike Dalton joining a revamped Smokey Mountain Ramblers.

In 1984, they reunited with Butch Moore for a month long Irish tour which was well received, but Butch returned to the States and opened a pub in Massachusetts. Paddy Cole had gone on to form the Paddy Cole Superstars and Des Kelly went back into band management.

Sadly, three of the original members of the Capitol have passed away. Butch Moore died in the States in 2001, Bram McCarthy sadly died at a very young age in 1987 and Johnny Kelly also passed away in 1987. Paddy Cole continues to play to this day and has done very well as one of the legends of the showband era. In October 2007, Don Long passed away. Original guitarist Joe Dolan passed away in 2008.

The rest of the band continued to play on and off, mostly in local and casual bands. Stan Burns went on to become one of the top surfers in Ireland in the 1970's as well as an Irish basketball International, today he lives in County Leitrim and still plays with his own jazz quartet.

Overall, the Capitol had a major impact on the showband era in Ireland. To this day, their talent and popularity are legendary. However, unlike many other showbands, when the scene changed, they did not adapt and while others like the Nevada, Miami, and Plattermen continued to play well into the 1980's, the Capitol barely made it out of the 1960's...one of the casualties of the changing music scene in Ireland.

Butch Moore came home to Ireland in October, 2000 to appear with the Showband Show's "Hucklebuckin Again Tour" along with Brendan Bowyer and Roly Daniels. Sadly, he passed away less than six months later at his home in the United States.  

*Some background information for this feature sourced from Send Em Home Sweatin' by Vincent Power.

Photo Gallery        

Click on thumbnails for full images

Capitol Showband - 1961 (JB) Capitol Showband - 1961 Capitol Showband - 1962 (JB) Capitol Showband - 1963 (LR) Capitol Showband (LR)
Capitols (LR) Capitol Showband (MN) The Capitol Capitol Showband (LR) Capitol Showband (LR)
Capitol Showband (DD) Capitol Showband (PB) Capitol Showband (LR) Capitol Showband - 1966 (LR) Butch Moore - 1966 (LR)
Capitol Showband - 1966 (LR) Capitol Showband - 1966 (LR) Capitol - 1968 (RK) Capitol Showband - 1969 (TP) The Capitol Showband - 1970 (KS)
Noel McNeil - 1966 (LR) Butch Moore (LR) John Kelly - Capitol (LR) Jimmy Hogan - Capitol (LR) Eamonn Monaghan - Capitol (LR)

Butch Moore - 1966 Butch Moore - 1964 (LR) Butch Moore - 1965 (PB) Butch Moore (LR) Butch Moore (LR)
Eamonn Monaghan of the Capitol - 1966 (LR) Don Long of the Capitol in 1966 (LR) Des Kelly of the Capitol in 1966 (LR) Paddy Cole of the Capitol in 1966 (LR) Bram McCarthy of the Capitol in 1966 (LR)
John Kelly of
the Capitol - 1966
(LR)
Jimmy Hogan of the Capitol - 1966 (LR) The Kelly Brothers (LR) Des & John Kelly (KS) The Capitol -1970 (KS)
The Capitol -1966 (MY) Butch Moore (GF) Butch Moore (GF) The Capitol (GF) Johnny Kelly - 1967
Johnny Kelly - 1967 Johnny & Des in 1967 Johnny Kelly - 1967

Capitol

Capitol - Sept, 1969
Capitol - 1968 Capitol - 1968 Capitol - 1969 Capitol - 1970 Capitol - early 60's
Capitol (KM) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF)
Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF)
Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF)
Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF)
Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF)
Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol (RF) Capitol Capitol (PL)
Capitol (PL) Capitol (PL) Capitol (PL) Capitol (PL) Capitol (PL)
     
Butch Moore (PL) Butch Moore (PL) Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Year Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Sax Trumpet Trombone
1960 Butch
Moore
Joe
Dolan
Des
Kelly
Johnny
Kelly
Eamonn
Monahan
Eddie
Ryan
Paul
Sweeney
Pat
Loughman
1960 Butch
Moore
Joe
Dolan
Des
Kelly
Johnny
Kelly
Eamonn
Monahan
Eddie
Ryan
Paul
Sweeney
Pat
Loughman
June,
1961
Butch
Moore
Jimmy
Hogan
Des
Kelly
Johnny
Kelly
Eamonn
Monahan
Paddy
Cole
Paul
Sweeney
Don
Long
1963 Butch
Moore
Jimmy
Hogan
Des
Kelly
Johnny
Kelly
Eamonn
Monahan
Paddy
Cole
Bram
McCarthy
Don
Long
1966 Noel
McNeil
Jimmy
Hogan
Des
Kelly
Johnny
Kelly
Eamonn
Monahan
Paddy
Cole
Bram
McCarthy
Don
Long
1967 John
Drummond
Jimmy
Hogan
Des
Kelly
Johnny
Kelly
Eamonn
Monahan
Paddy
Cole
Bram
McCarthy
Don
Long
1969   Jimmy
Hogan
John
Drummond
Johnny
Kelly
Eamonn
Monahan
Paddy
Cole
Bram
McCarthy
Don
Long
Sept
1969
Tony
O'Leary
Jimmy
Hogan
Mike
Dalton
Mickey
O'Neill
Eamonn
Monahan
Paddy
Cole  
Bram
McCarthy
 
1970 Tony
O'Leary
Frank
Murray
Mike
Dalton
Mickey
O'Neill
  Paddy
Cole  
Bram
McCarthy
 
1970 Tony
O'Leary
Frank
Murray
Mike
Dalton
Mickey
O'Neill
Stan Burns (sax) Paddy
Cole  
Bram
McCarthy
 
1971 Tony
O'Leary
Frank
Murray
Mike
Dalton
Eamonn
Donnelly
Stan Burns (sax) Paddy
Cole  
Bram
McCarthy
 

Discography:

Singles:

Foolin' Time / Too Soon To Know (Butch Moore) - #3 Irish Charts
Pye Records - January, 1964
I Missed You / Touch Me (Butch Moore)
Pye Records - 7N.35182 - 1964
Down Came The Rain / Bye Bye Till Then (Butch Moore) - #1 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15727 - November, 1964
Born to Be With You / Far Far Away (Butch Moore) - #1 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15789 - February, 1965
Walking The Streets In The Rain / I Stand Still (Butch Moore) - #1 Irish Charts
Pye Records - March, 1965 - Ireland's Eurovision Entry
Our Love Will Go On / Words (Butch Moore) - #10 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15910 - July, 1965
So Many Ways / Granada (Butch Moore) - #5 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.15990 - October, 1965
A Christmas Wish / What Child Is This (Butch Moore) - #5 Irish Charts
Pye Records - NEP.24235 - December, 1965
Spanish Eyes / I Gotta Know (Butch Moore)
Pye Records - 7N.17143 - 1966
Honey and Wine / Boolavogue
Pye Records - May, 1966
Streets of Baltimore / McAlpine's Fusliers (Des Kelly) - #3 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17257 - February, 1967
Sorry 'Bout That Chief/Peggy O' Neill (Don Long)
Pye Records - 7N.17271 - 1967
Black Velvet Band / The Nightengale (John Kelly) - #1 Irish Charts
Pye Records - 7N.17322 - May, 1967
Bottle Of Wine/Creole Jazz (Paddy Cole)
Dolphin - DOS 2 - 1968
Monkey time/Song and Dance (John Drummond)
Dolphin - DOS 9 - 1968
Break My Mind/Molly Bye Bye (John Drummond)
Dolphin - DOS 13 - 1968
Muffin Man / Stranger On The Shore (Paddy Cole)
Dolphin Records - DOS.16 - 1968
I'll Be All Smiles / That's What It's Like (John Kelly)
Dolphin Records - DOS 30 - 1969
She Meant Everything To Me / Whole World Shaking (Tony O'Leary)
Dolphin Records - DOS 61 - March, 1970
 

Albums:

Presenting Ireland's Premier Showband
Envoy Records - VOY 9144 - 1962                                     
The Many Faces Of Ireland's Capitol Showband
Pye Popular Records - NPL 18119 - 1965* 
The Capitol Showband
Marble Arch Records - MAL 694 - 1967

* Our thanks to Ian Kavanagh for help with the discography.

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Butch Moore: RIP Butch left the band in 1966 and was replaced by Noel McNeill. He went into the cabaret scene where he didn't do as well as expected. In 1970, after a divorce, he emigrated to the United States and started a cabaret act with Maeve Mulvany, who he would eventually marry. They owned a pub, The Parting Glass, in Massachusetts where they settled and had three children. Butch returned to Ireland in 2000 for a tour with the Showband Show, but passed away on April 3, 2001 (less than six months later) at the age of 63. Sadly, Maeve passed away a few years later in 2004 at the age of only 58. 
Joe Dolan: RIP Joe was an art student in Dublin when the Capitol were formed. He played guitar with them until Jimmy Hogan and Butch Moore joined from the Blue Clavons. When at home in his native Galway he played with the Swingtime Aces. He was still with them when we did a two band session in Loughrea in 1961. After retiring, Joe was a professional artist in Co. Galway until his sad passing from cancer in late 2007.(from Pat Loughman)
Des Kelly - RIP: After leaving the Capitol Des went into entertainment management and was very successful. He launched the highly successful Smokey Mountain Ramblers, featuring Pat Ely, one of the top country bands of the era. For many years, Des was a regular performer in his native Galway. He also presented a Sunday evening music programme on Galway Bay FM between 6 and 8 p.m. Des sadly passed away April 1st, 2017 after a lengthy illness. 
John Kelly: RIP John sadly passed away in 1987
Eamonn Monaghan: After leaving the Capitol, Eamon formed the the Cabaret All Stars with Jimmy Hogan and eventually changed the name to the Spotlights Banjo Band. According to a recent article in the Irish Independent, "By 1972, he had left show business behind turning to pursue business interests, first with a builders' providers company and eventually owning a successful bathroom accessory business called "Elegant John Bathrooms" with his friend Paddy Cole lending a hand." He still plays today and can be found tickling the ivories in the Clyde Court Hotel in Ballsbridge most weekends. 
Eddie Ryan: After leaving the Capitol, Eddie played with the SIPTU band
Paul Sweeney: We understand that Paul is a highly respected architect.
Pat Loughman - RIP: Pat played through the seventies and eighties with the Dublin Concert Band and often could be found jamming at the Cork Jazz Festival. He had been playing trombone with the Communications Workers Band in Dublin where he lived. He also played trumpet in a big band which includes Harvey Roche (Donie Collins Band), and Pat Elgart. However, we received a very sad email from Pat's daughter, Patricia, telling us that Pat sadly passed away on April 21st, 2011. 
Jimmy Hogan: From the Capitol, Jimmy formed the Cabaret All Stars with Eamon Monaghan. They eventually became the Spotlights Banjo Band and played in the early 70's. In 1972, Jimmy joined Brendan SHine's new Superband. We know that Jimmy still gigs (though not to the same extent as he used to) but we do not know if he played with any other bands after the Brendan Shine band.   
Paddy Cole: Paddy left the Capitol to join the Big Eight and then went on to form the Paddy Cole Band, which after a few changes became the Paddy Cole Superstars. The Superstars were on the scene longer than many of the other bands from the era and kept reinventing themselves to stay with the times. Today Paddy is one of the best known proponents of jazz music in Ireland and tours continuously withy his band playing major festivals and theatres. He also hosts his own radio show these days on Dublin's FM 106.6.    
Bram McCarthy:  RIP Bram sadly passed away.
Don Long: RIP  After leaving the band and Ireland in 1969, Don later did several European tours with Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazzmen and for many years led his own band, six nights a week, at Manchesterís Ganders Go South. They backed many top British and American jazzmen as well as playing two spells a year at the famous Casa Bar in Zurich. In 2004, Don was the leader of the Jazz Gentlemen, a Manchester jazz group. Sadly, Don passed away on October 29, 2007 after a year long battle with cancer. He was 69. 
Noel McNeil - RIP: Peter West emailed us in July, 2011 to tell us that sadly Noel passed away in the UK some years ago.   If you have additional info please email us
Mike Dalton:  Mike moved from the Capitol to the Virginians in the early 70's and then on to the Paddy Cole Superstars. Today he lives in Askeaton, Co. Limerick. 
John Drummond: John became one of Ireland's top session musicians. Today we understand he lives in County Leitrim where he teaches music.    
Mickey O'Neill - RIP: Mickey recently wrote us: I was looking at your website (Capitol Showband) and saw that you wanted updated info on me (Mickey O'Neill). I've lived in Las Vegas for the past 25 years and was the drummer with Brendan Bowyer's Royal Irish (known in Ireland as the Big Eight). I'm retired, but still play some gigs with Michael Keane, Jimmy Conway and D.J.Curtin (from the Big Eight and Kerry Blues). Mickey lives in Vegas with his longtime partner Mary Schwartz with his two sons Alan and Mark. Sadly Mickey lost his other son, Michael in 2005 as a result of a car accident at the age of 21. Further to this listing, Mickey sadly passed away on June 15, 2010. A friend to the site before his death, our sincere sympathies go out to his family and friends in Ireland and the USA. 
Stan Burns: Stan Burns retired from the road and became an International basketball player as well as an Irish surfing champion in the 70's and 80's. All the while, Stan has played locally and in jazz clubs in the Northwest with The Jazz Ladds and his own band, Katch. Today Stan lives in County Leitrim area where he teaches music and also plays the local club scene with his own jazz trio.  
Tony O'Leary: After leaving the Capitol, Tony joined the Smokey Mountain Ramblers, along with several other members of the band. After a short time sharing top billing with Pat Ely, Pat left and formed the Rocky Tops. For a time in the early seventies, we know Tony stayed with the Smokeys and then joined the Gallowglass Ceili Band. At some point in the mid 70's it appears Tony purchased the Gallowglass and changed its name for a short time.     Unknown - if you have info please email us
Frank Murray: RIP  We received an email from Sloan Harrington in the United States telling us that Frankie sadly passed away in April, 2009. A check of RIP.ie shows that Frankie died on April 6th. 
Eamonn Donnelly: We know that after the break-up of the Capitol, Eamonn went to the Sun Valley Boys which featured Denis Bowler. That band may have broken up around 1973-4 and we do not know what happened to Eamonn after that. Unknown - if you have info please email us

For a more detailed look at the Capitols, please visit http://capitolmemories.net, a site by contributor John Baird.

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