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Kings Showband Feature (1960-1970)

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

The Story

Our thanks to Dusty Young for his story of the Kings Showband

The Kings Showband formed in about 1960. From Naas Co. Kildare, they were a started and managed by Paddy McGarr who also owned the Gallowglass Ceili Band. Paddy knew that although Ceili bands (along with the orchestras on the 40's and 50's) had been one of the dominant forms of entertainment on the Irish scene, especially in rural areas, their days were numbered in the new dancing environment. Most of the original members of the band came from the Jimmy Dunny band from Newbridge in County Kildare. The Dunny band had been one of the old fashion "orchestras" that were extremely popular until the dawn of the showbands in the late 50's.

The original lineup included Billy Dempsey (trumpet), Ronnie Reynolds (drums), Barry Cluskey (sax), Brendan McEnhill (sax), Frank McEnhill (aka Prince Vince - bass and vocals), Pat Braiden (vocals), Tommy Fitzpatrick (guitar), and Tommy Lundy (guitar). Within a short time, in 1961, Billy left and was replaced by Dusty Young on trombone.

Dusty's first gig with band was at Sharrocks Ballroom in Manchester at the start of a Lenten tour. For those who don't know, Lenten tours were necessary because during lent in Ireland most of the dancehalls closed down for the 7 weeks and many of the showbands went to England to play in the Irish dancehalls. Names like The Galtymore in Cricklewood, Bamba in Kilburn, Blarney on Tottenham Court Road, Gresham in Archway, The Lyceum on The Stand and some of the dancehalls in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds get the Irish bands going.

The band was constantly on the road, up and down the country. As Dusty explained, "we followed the normal pattern for a showband in those days...travelling all over Ireland. We never got the art of linking up dates so we would maybe play in Skibbereen one night, go to Donegal the next night, back to Killarney the next night, and perhaps Belfast the next night so we did a lot of miles but we were young and enjoying it so we didn't really mind."

More to come..... 

I joined 1961 I left and joined Walter Lewis in 1966, went to Jimmy Johnston 1969, went to Glover 1970 for a few months. Then joined in with Tony Morelli and Gerry Rice (who had played tenor sax with Glover and The Witnesses) to play resident in The Trocadero Club in Belfast. Gerry didn't want to come to England so George Galway took his place and that's when we called ourselves The Kings for the English Cabaret circuit and that's about it. The original Kings Showband played with many of the big  American acts and in fact we backed Jerry Lee Lewis in the Castle Ballroom in Banbridge. Jerry was the headliner on the show but his pick up band never turned up so he asked us to busk his set. So he came on shouted the key of Bflat and and we did his hour set with him without any rehearsal. In those days you could do that because we knew all his stuff anyway and we were always good buskers in Ireland. Yes it was Eamonn Campell from The Dubliners who played for a while with Kings and from them he went to the Dubliners. I sat beside Barney McKenna in school for 5 years and  hung about with him when he was learning the banjo from his uncle. I would have loved to have played with them but it wasn't to be!

The second photo was taken after Tommy Fitzpatrick left and his place was taken by Reggie Dunne on guitar he is middle front next to Billy Hopkins on right who came in as a bass player leaving Vince to be main singer as Pat Braiden had left and gone to England. Billy Hopkins who was the brother of Dessie Hopkins of The Johnny Flynn Billy went on to play with Brendan Bowyer and The Big 8 in Las Vegas The next photo was the original line up as in the first photo. I moved up to Northern Ireland and started with the Walter Lewis Showband. The Kings kept going for a few more years bringing in Butch Moore who had left the Capitol as a featured singer. Vince went to England and joined the Chris Lamb Band before having a go with his own band and finished up playing resident in The Hilton Hotel on Park Lane and finishing up playing in The Dorchester Hotel London until all that work fizzled out. I went from playing with Walter Lewis to playing with the Jimmy Johnston Showband and ending up doing to last few months of The Dave Glover Showband. I was playing in a cabaret band in Belfast until the troubles got so bad and all the clubs and dance halls started closing and ended up coming to England in 1972 with the remains of The Witnesses Showband including George Galway brother of James and Tony Morelli who had been the guitarist and singer with the Witnesses. We called ourselves The Kings until we finally split up the banThe original d and I went into comedy. That's the story so far. All of the original Kings showband are still alive.
Dusty

I got married and moved to Northern Ireland and started with The Walter Lewis Showband and on to the other bands I told you about in my last email and there were more leavings and changes in The Kings over the next few years and that's when Reg Dunne joined along with Billy Hopkins and Butch Moore and for a while the guitar player who joined the Dubliners Eamonn he was called I don't know his second name I think it's Coughlan but he is the one with the grey afro hairdo and is still with the Dubliners along with my first cousin Patsy Watchorn. After a little while I joined Jimmy Johnston and Dave Glover bands and then moved onto the Belfast cabaret circuit playing as resident band in various clubs around the city until as I said in 1972 with the troubles getting worse we decided to try the English club circuit. That went well for a few years but then we started to go our different ways George Galway went into teaching in Manchester and Tony Morelli went back to Belfast and played in the pubs and clubs which were starting to reopen. I enclose a couple of pictures of The Kings who came to England the include me, George Galway, Tony Morelli, Tommy Smith and Alec Matthews. Tommy and Alec never really played in Showbands they were a product of the Belfast club and pub scene. I have a poster photo of the final incarnation of The Kings which feature me, Dave Glover and also Jim McDermott who had played with The Johnny Quigley and Gay McIntyre bands and later with The Dave Glover Showband.Jim is the one with goatee beard. I can't attach the photo for whatever reason my computer won't have it but if you let me have an address I can send it by post. That's the story so far and as you know I continue to work as a comedian and do pretty well at it. Most of my time is spent working on cruise liners which pays quite well and is a good standard of work.

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Kings Showband (LR) Kings Showband - 1966 (LR) Kings Showband (LR) Prince Vince -
Kings 1966
(LR)
Kings Showband (DY)
Kings Showband (DY) Kings (PL) Kings (PL) Kings (PL) Kings (PL)
Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF)
Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF)
 
Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Kings (RF) Coming Soon
Years Vocals Guitar Guitar Bass Drums Sax Sax Trumpet
1960 Pat
Braiden
Tommy
Fitzpatrick
Tommy
Lundy
Frank
McEnhill
Ronnie
Reynolds
Brendan
McEnhill
Barry
Cluskey
Billy
Dempsey
1961 Pat
Braiden
Tommy
Fitzpatrick
Tommy
Lundy
Frank
McEnhill
Ronnie
Reynolds
Brendan
McEnhill
Barry
Cluskey
Dusty
Young (Trom)
1966 Frank
McEnhill
Reggie
Dunne
Tommy
Lundy
Billy
Hopkins
Ronnie
Reynolds
Brendan
McEnhill
Barry
Cluskey
 
                 
                 
                 

Discography

S - #3 Irish Charts
M

Audio Clips

         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Pat Braiden:
Tommy Fitzpatrick:
Tommy Lundy:
Frank McEnhill (aka Prince Vince):
Ronnie Reynolds:
Brendan McEnhill:
Billy Dempsey:
Dusty Young:
Reggie Dunne:
Billy Hopkins:
Butch Moore:

 


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