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All About The Casino/Indians Showband (1961 - Present)

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

The Casino Story

Not many bands of the showband era had the success and continuous staying power of the Casino. Formed in Dublin in 1964, at the height of the showband era, the Casino was a middle of the road showband. They did a nice business, but were nowhere near the top of the showband food chain.

The story of the Casino starts at the De La Salle school in Ballyfermot (Dublin) where Eamon Keane learned the accordion. In 1959, together with Shay O'Reilly, and some other lads, they formed a group called the Silvertones, playing at local hops and socials. The band included Eamon Keane (trumpet and accordion), Shay O'Reilly (RIP-trombone and accordion), Nick McEvoy (RIP-sax), and Gussie Maguire (accordion and piano). A local duo, Greg Doran (sax/clarinet) and Frank Magee (guitar) joined next in 1960, along with Jimmy Breen who was with the band on and off over the next few years. During a gig in Waterford, Eamon decided Frank would also take on the vocalist slot when needed and this new lineup became the Goldentones.

In March, 1961, after a time playing locals gigs and relief, Frank, Greg and Gussie left to pursue careers outside of music. To replace their guitarist, at the suggestion of Frank Magee, the lads drafted John Woodful, another former De La Salle pupil. They then asked John's brother, Brian to join on bass and continued to play as the Goldentones. As fate would have it, Liam Ryan heard the boys and offered to manage them and it didn't take long before they were ready for the big time. They added Paddy Reynolds (RIP-sax) and Peter Brady (drums) and hit the road as the Casino Showband.

Within a short time, Jimmy Breen had left the band and was replaced for a time by Eddie Morgan. The band had still not released a record (a showband prerequisite by the mid 60's) and were still not generating the interest it would take to establish them as one of the top bands. Eddie's replacement was 20 year old Mel Austin, who joined the band from the Jimmy Johnston Showband and the Casino seemed to be hitting their stride. Throughout the 1960's the band played a good program, but could never quite crack the big time. In February, 1965, they made their TV debut on RTE's Showband Show.

In 1965, International Showband drummer, Chris Mullahy joined the band replacing Peter Brady on drums. Original member Nick McEvoy had also left, reducing the band from eight to seven pieces.   

By all reports, the Casino was a good outfit, they just never seemed to make a big impression on the punters. In a 1966 article which appeared in the Sligo Champion, after seeing the band the author stated they were "an explosive successful musical mixture that the reception accorded them had to be seen to be believed." High praise indeed. The lineup at the time was Eamonn Keane (trumpet), Paddy Reynolds (sax), Shay O'Reilly (RIP-trombone), Brian Woodful (bass), John Woodful (guitar), Mel Austin (vocals), and Chris Mullahy (drums). A report in November, 1968 said that Paddy Reynolds had left the band and was to be replaced by a young musician, as auditions were underway. This came from then manager, Liam Ryan.        

In August, 1968, future country star, Ian Corrigan joined the band on vocals. Tne band, which had been predominantly seen as a pop band up until then, added a heavy dose of country to their programme. Along with Mel Austin, the band packed a new one-two punch on vocals. Although Ian didn't stay long, the Casino finally released a couple of singles including their first, In The Middle of Nowhere. Ian had previously spent a few years with the Hi-Lows Showband. With Ian out front, the band knew they had what it took to make it, but were still waiting for that "big break."

In June, 1969, an article in Spotlight reported that Mel Austin quit the band after their gig on Sunday, 8th June. He left the showband scene to focus on business opportunities outside show business. Around this same time, the band also got a new manager, Sammy Smyth, who at the same time was managing four Northern Ireland ballrooms.     

Casino don their feathers: The Indians' Story

In  a recent interview with Stephen Travers, Eamon admitted that the band had to make a decision, change or break up. In December, 1970, it was reported in Spotlight that the Casino had split from manager Liam Ryan and were looking for a new manager, and found it difficult enough. Eamon knew Tom Doherty was a top manager and approached him to see if they might work a deal. To their amazement, Tom suggested the band don feathers and war paint and become Ireland's first "gimmick" band, The Indians. In a recent interview, both Eamon and Brian reported the band's skepticism at the idea of dressing up and wearing war paint, but as Eamon put it, "we had been on the road nine years and had never reached the top." After a chat with the band, they remained skeptical, but decided that it would make sense for the band.

It was now early 1971, and at this point the band had no idea where they would get outfits (Dublin's tailor to the showbands, Louis Copeland, did not stock "Indian wear.") So they had to go to London to hire various costumes for the stage. They also had to find a new lead singer as Ian Corrigan had left the band. They went to see a talent contest at the Drake Inn cabaret spot. Eamon takes up the story, "we had actually gone to see Sean Brady, Noel's brother, but he took ill and could not take part, so Noel was on stage instead." It was then they heard the "rough and ready" (Brian's description) seventeen year old singer and knew they had found their man. 

Ex-newspaper and publicity man, Paddy Burns became their manager. they got together in the Olympic Ballroom in Dublin to try out their new costumes and Paddy brought out a book of Indian history, which contained names which they tried to tie to the character of each musician. In late January, an advert in Spotlight announced the "exciting new country sound" of the Indians. Although it wasn't mentioned that the Indians were formerly the Casino, the world would soon find out the truth. (Editor's note: Paddy Burns sadly passed away 14th August, 2011 aged 79). 

Eamon Keane takes up the story, "We had been trading as the Casino for some years and we obviously did not hit on the right gimmick. The Indian gimmick was good. It got people in to see what was going on, but no band can last on a gimmick alone." The band also added a new front man, as Ian decided it was time to head out and form his own band, Country Style. Noel Brady replaced Ian and when the band took Indian names as part of their gimmick, he became known as Big Chief Flaming Star. The rest of the band also took Indian stage names including Sitting Bull Jr. (Eamon), Dull Knife (John), Medicine Crow (Shay), Spotted Tail (Doug), Little Thunder (Chris), and Crazy Horse (Brian).  

The band made their debut on the 16th of January, 1971 in Shannagolden in Co. Limerick to a "very small crowd." But Eamon continued, "but by the end of the night we knew there's something in this because the place just erupted."   

The band wasn't a huge hit immediately. Their first few months were lean enough, but eventually the war paint and talent won the crowds over. Said manager Paddy Burns in early 1972, "Apart from the gimmick, they had their own distinctive sound and a varied programme. They switch with ease from the accordion country sound to the brass for pops and they also have one of the best guitar sections in the country."

During the early 70's the band became one of the top country bands in the nation, a position they held until the waning years of the ballroom era in the mid 1980's. Interestingly enough, though, the band never had a single enter the Irish Charts, which is strange given their phenomenal success in the ballrooms over the years!

Many have speculated that although the Indian gimmick helped the band overcome the anonymity that had plagued them as The Casino, it was their stage presence and musical variety that sustained them as a top act. Not only did they have the typical brass section of the showbands, but they also could switch to the accordion, and well as having a front man in Noel Brady that could rock with the best of them. They were an all around band that provided everything a dancer could need.

Amazingly, despite the upheaval that characterized the showband scene in the early and mid 70's with lead singers coming and going, and gimmicks everywhere, the Indians maintained their popularity and drawing ability through it all. It wasn't until the late seventies that things changed for the band. The next lineup change took place in 1976 when Doug Walsh decided to leave the music business and was replaced by Derry Whitelaw (who also took the stage name Spotted Tail) on keyboards.

But two years later, in 1978, Derry announced he was not only leaving the band, but was forming another Indians themed band, The Apaches. Former Plattermen front man, Simon Scott, was recruited to play the part of Big Chief and like the Indians, the band donned war paint and feathers and hit the road in December, 1978. They also featured a female vocalist that they originally called Squaw.

When Derry left, the remaining Indians decided not to replace him and Eamon Keane moved over to feature more on keyboards than trumpet. They reduced their lineup from seven to six members, a fairly typical move in the late seventies as the ballroom scene continued to slowly shrink. They would remain that way until the mid 1980's.

As the 70's drew to a close, like all Irish bands, the Indians had to face to reality that the ballroom era was quickly coming to an end due to the prevalence of hotel extensions and discos taking over. They had been playing (like many bands), the Irish clubs in England for years and decided to refocus their attention on the country scene in the UK.

Throughout the 1980's the band released albums of country music which sold very well. They had a stable following and continued to draw big crowds in the ballrooms despite the lack of a hit single. The creation of the Apaches did little to affect  the success of the Indians.

As the 1980's came to an end, Noel lost his voice to some extent and it became apparent that he could no longer sing for the full two hours. To combat this, his son, Paul was brought in and named "Rising Son" and they sang side by side for some time. Eventually Noel retired and Paul took over full time as lead singer. On Christmas Day (we're not sure of the year) Paul was in a serious car accident and never returned to the stage. The band found a replacement in Newry born singer Kevin Kearney who took the name "Golden Eagle." For family reasons, Kevin eventually gave up traveling and they got Stephen Proctor from Portadown and they called him "White Cloud." Health reasons caused Stephen to retired and he was replaced by Raymond Kelly in 2006. John Woodful retired from the road to take up his first love, painting, and was replaced by Tommy Hopkins.    

More to come.......

Our thanks to Frank Magee for his contribution to this story.

1998 - Band lineup: Rising Son (Paul Brady), Sitting Bull Jr. (Eamonn Keane), Little Thunder (Chris Mullahy) Crazy Horse (Brian Woodfull) and Dull Knife (Tommy Hopkins).

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Casino Showband
Goldentones (GD) Casino Showband (MN) Casino Showband (BK) Casino Showband (LR) Casino - 1966
Casino - 1965 Casino Showband - 1968 (BF) Casino Showband - 1970 (JD) Casino Showband (LR) Casino Showband - 1970 (LR)
Article - 1965 Article - 1966 Casino - 1969 Casino - 1970 Casino - 1967
Casino (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF)
Casino (RF) Casino - 1965 (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF)
Casino (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF) Casino (RF)
       
Casino (PL) Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
The Indians
Indians - 1971 Indians - 1971 Indians - 1971 Indians - 1971 Indians - 1971
Indians - 1971 The Indians - 1972 (KS) Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972
Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972
Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972
Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1972 Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973
The Indians - 1973 The Indians - 1973 The Indians - 1973 Indians (DD) Indians - 1973
Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973
Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973 Indians - 1973
The Indians - 1974 Indians - 1974 Indians - 1974 Indians - 1974 Indians - 1974
Indians - 1975 Indians - 1975 Indians - 1975 Indians - 1975 Indians - 1975
The Indians - 1978 The Indians - 1979 (PH) Indians - 1979 Indians - 1979 (PH) Indians
The Indians - 1980 Indians - 1980 The Indians - 1980 The Indians - 1983 The Indians - 1990's (BK)
The Indians (PH) Indians (PH) Indians (PH) Indians Indians (PH)

Indians (PH) Indians (PH) Indians (PH)

The Indians today

Indians (PH)
Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF)
Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF)
Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF)
Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF)
Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF)
   
Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Indians (RF) Coming Soon Coming Soon
         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Record Sleeves
A - Indians - April 1972 B - Indians - 1972 A - Indians - 1973 B - Indians - 1973 A - Indians - 1974
B - Indians - 1974 A - Indians - 1975 B - Indians - 1975 A - Indians - 1976 B - Indians - 1976
A - Indians - 1977 B - Indians - 1977 A - Indians - 1978 B - Indians - 1978 A - Indians - 1980
 
B - Indians - 1980 A - Indians - 1982 B - Indians - 1982 A - Indians - 1982 Coming Soon
         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Trumpet Trombone Sax/Keys Sax/Vocals

The Casino Showband

1959         Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
Gussie
Maguire
Nick
McEvoy
1960 Jimmy
Breen
Frank
Magee
Greg (Sax)
Doran
Various Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
Gussie
Maguire
Nick
McEvoy
1961 Jimmy
Breen
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
  Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
  Nick
McEvoy
1965 Jimmy
Breen
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Peter
Brady
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
Paddy
Reynolds
Nick
McEvoy
1965 Eddie
Morgan
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
Paddy
Reynolds
 
July
1965
Mel
Austin
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
Paddy
Reynolds
 
Aug
1968
Mel
Austin
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
  Ian
Corrigan
Late
1970
Noel
Brady
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
   

The Indians

Jan 16
1971
Noel
Brady
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
Doug (keys)
Walsh
 
1976 Noel
Brady
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
Derry
Whitelaw
 
1978 Noel
Brady
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
Shay
O'Reilly
   
1996 Noel
Brady
John
Woodful
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
  Paul (vocals)
Brady
 
1998 Paul
Brady
Tommy
Hopkins
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
     
1999 Kevin
Kearney
Tommy
Hopkins
Brian
Woodful
Chris
Mullahy
Eamonn
Keane
     
2002 Stephen
Proctor
Tommy
Hopkins
Brian
Woodful
Kevin
McKeown
Eamonn
Keane
     
2006 Raymond
Kelly
Tommy
Hopkins
Brian
Woodful
Kevin
McKeown
Eamonn
Keane
     

Discography:

(Interestingly, as far as we can tell neither the Casino or Indians ever had a single in the Irish Charts)

Singles:

In The Middle of Nowhere / Did She Mention My Name (Casino with Ian Corrigan)
Pye Records - 7N.17932 - 1970
Old Memories / Ramblin' Boy (Casino with Ian Corrigan)
Pye Records - 7N.45012 - 1970
Squaws Along The Yukon / Apache (Indians with Medicine Crow - Shay O'Reilly)
Pye Records - 7N.60003 - 1970
Tobacco (Steel Rail Blues) / Little Valley (Indians with Medicine Crow - Shay O'Reilly)
Pye Records - 7N.45052 - 1971
Indian Christmas / Happy Christmas Day (Indians with Big Chief Flaming Star - Noel Brady)
Hawk Records - HASP.414 - December, 1977
Geronimo (Indians with Big Chief Flaming Star - Noel Brady)
Arrow Records - AR 001 - January, 1979
Love Me Now / Watch The River Run (Indians with Big Chief Flaming Star - Noel Brady)
Arrow Records - AR 003 - 1980
Thatís All Right Mama (Big Chief Flaming Star - Noel Brady) / Roses Are Red (Medicine Crow- Shay O'Reilly)
Arrow Records - AR 005 - 1981
Once I Get Over You (Big Chief Flaming Star - Noel Brady) / Watching Girls Go By (Medicine Crow- Shay O'Reilly)
Arrow Records - AR 006 - 1985
You're Never Here / Shake Rattle and Roll (Medicine Crow - Shay O'Reilly) (our thanks to John Lynch)
Play Records - PLAY 170 - 1985

Albums:

Indian Country
Hawk Records - HALP.101 - 1972
Indian Reservation
Hawk Records - HALP.109 - 1973
Traveling Indian Band
Emerald Records - GES.1114 - 1974
Magnificent Seven
Hawk Records - HALP.141 - July, 1975
We're Just Indians
Hawk Records - HALP.154 - 1976
Dance With The Indians
Hawk Records - HALP.170 - 1977
Indian Tracks
Hawk Records - HALP.176 - Dec, 1978
Indian's Greatest Hits
K-Tel Records - KMC 90 - 1982

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?   (Coming Soon)

Eamon Keane (aka Sitting Bull Jr): A founding member of the band, Eamon is now both the manager and still plays. The Indians remain one of the most popular acts on the Irish wedding and corporate circuit. Eamon has been on the road with the same band for over forty years, a rare feat by any showband era musician. 
Jimmy Breen:  
Nick McEvoy: RIP  
John Woodfull (aka Dull Knife):  John retired from the band in 1998 as far as we can tell. He left to return to his first love, painting. In a 2011 interview, Eamon Keane said John was still painting and worked out of hi shop in Dublin. 
Paddy Reynolds: RIP
Brian Woodfull (aka Crazy Horse): Like Eamonn, Brian has been there on his bass from the beginning. Unlike some bands that have broken up, only to reunite in recent years, the Indians have been playing continuously since the mid 1960's.
Peter Brady:
Shay O'Reilly: - RIP (aka Medicine Crow) We understand Shay passed away in the late 2000's of cancer.
Eddie Morgan: RIP  
Mel Austin:
Ian Corrigan: Ian left the Casino and went on to have a brilliant career as one of Ireland's foremost country crooners. He fronted The Country Style for many years and today still tours, performing at weddings, corporate events and tours of England's Irish pub and club scene. 
Noel Brady (aka Big Chief Flaming Star): Suffering from throat problems in the mid 1990's Noel was replaced in the band by his son, Paul. However, in 2014, Noel is appearing on several occasions as a special guest with the band.  
Doug Walsh (aka Spotted Tail):
Derry Whitelaw: (aka Spotted Tail)
Chris Mullahy (aka Little Thunder): Chris joined the Casino in the late sixties after stints with the International and Paramount showbands. He played with the band for over 35 years and finally retired from touring in 2005. 
Paul Brady (aka Rising Son):  
Kevin Kearney (aka Golden Eagle):  
Stephen Proctor (aka White Cloud):  
Raymond Kelly (aka Geronimo):  

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