Hoot'nannys Feature (1970-1976?)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
When you find a formula that works, it's usually
worth repeating. So it was a year after the Cotton Mill Boys took the dance
scene by storm, that the Tom Costello organization launched another country
outfit, the Hoot'nanny's. The first hint of the band's formation came in the
January 29th issue of Spotlight which reported that the new band was
in rehearsals already.
At the same time,
Bernie Boyle, a cousin of Margo's from Burtonport, Co. Donegal had
been working in England. Fellow Donegal man Hughie Ward had
contacted him telling him another new band, the
looking for a singer. Bernie came home and auditioned for the band,
but did not get the job. Ready to return to England, he was
approached by the Hoot'nanny's and took the stage name, Bill Ryan.
Originally fronted by Bill, the band's career
would parallel that of their stable mates, the Cottons. In fact, they would end
up being fronted by Mike Scott, who started with the Cottons. A couple of weeks
later, in the March 6th issue, the band was officially launched. The
article said that the band had been formed around the nucleus of the
former Greener Pastures band which included: Mick O'Malley (guitar),
Stan McKee (guitar), Frank McGirr (bass) and Ollie Cunningham
(drums). The band released it's first single, Mighty Lonesome,
in April, 1970 on the Target (Pye) label. Although it received
plays, it did not sell well.
In June, the band released its second single, Story of a Broken
Heart, once again on the Target label and once again, it did not
make any impression on the charts.
A report in the
Insight column in Spotlight in September, 1970 reported the
band was playing their first Dublin gig in the National Ballroom on
the 17th of September. This was only strange because the band was
actually based in Dublin and had been on the road since February. A
month later, in November,
Pat Hamill joined the band on vocals and guitar.
Pat had previously been with the Beverlies, although a story
in Spotlight stated he was discovered by the band's road manager,
Pat Murphy, singing in a pub in Draperstown.
In February, 1971,
Spotlight reported that Stan McKee had left the Hoots to
join Frankie Carroll's band, the Ranchers,
replacing Sligo guitarist Francie Lenehan.
In May, 1971, the band released it's
fourth single and the first on a new label, Ruby Records called
Hot Corn Cold Corn. Unfortunately it met with the same lack of
chart success as previous releases.
In September, 1971,
the band added a new member, "Wee Mick" (real name Mick Murray and
so called because he stood a reported 4'5" tall). As well as singing,
he was a farmer in Derrylin, Co. Fermanagh before joining the
showband ranks. In today's politically correct world, it is doubtful
punters would have stood for it, but back in the early seventies,
Mick dressed up in different costumes, made all kinds of noises, ran
around the stage and then would end up singing, which brought in
dancers in droves to see the oddity. They also released their next
single, These Hands, which was to become their first hit
record, climbing to number 15 in the Irish charts. Between their new
curiosity factor and a hit record, the band was now doing very well
on the circuit and gaining new fans across the country.
In November, they
released Nellie Kelly and it sold well, but not chart. In
January, 1972 the record spent four weeks in the "Other Good
Sellers" category of the Irish charts. This special mention
identified Irish made records that sold well, but not well enough to
make the actual charts (which included International releases as
well). Of course, many bands of the era took this to mean they had a
mid 1972, the band suffered a major setback when the original
vocalist Bill Ryan (around whom the band had been built) left
to join the Gallowglass Ceili Band. It was part of a major shake up
for the Gallowglass which had been one of Ireland's top Ceili bands
(a dying breed) since 1950.
In July 1972, the Gallowglass
owner, Pat McGarr, took out
a full page advert in Spotlight announcing a new sensation "The
Symbols (ex-Gallowglass)" which was a new name for the band. In the
lineup was Mandy as female vocalist along with Bernie Boyle (aka
Bill Ryan - who would soon front Buckshot). We understand from
Elizabeth Farrelly (Mandy) that Bill recorded Mrs. Jones as the
band's first single, but before it could be released, he had been
drafted to front a new band formed by defecting members of the
Cotton Mill Boys called Buckshot.
At this point Wee Mick took a more
central role on vocals, along with Pat Hamill. In August, 1973, the
band released Rockin' The Baby, which featured guitarist
Dessie Flaherty (Dessie would eventually join the reformed Miami
showband after the tragic death of three members in July, 1975). The
single sold very well and became their second (and final) chart
record, topping out at number 12 in the charts.
In March, 1974, Julie
Boyd reported that Wee Mick (vocals), Frank McGirr (bass) and Harry
Cooney (guitar) left the band. Mike Scott was drafted as the band's
new lead singer. We also know that around this time, Jim Dalton left
the band to join the newly formed Boys n' Girls.
In November, 1975, a
blurb in Paschal Mooney's Country Round Up was talking about the
band's new lead singer, Johnny Scariff after nearly going off the
road in 1974. George Hilliard was now managing the band and we're
not sure how much longer they lasted. .
More to come.....
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