Maxi, Dick & Twink Feature (1968-1971)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
The first mention of Maxi, Dick and Twink we can find is from May,
1968 when the trio was slated to appear on an upcoming Johnny McEvoy
Show at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin. Previously they had been part
of the Young Dublin Singers and had taken part in the "Gaels of
Laughter" show and appeared with Johnny earlier as well.
Maxi (Irene McCoubrey), Dick
(Barbara Dixon) and Twink (Adele King) were definitely Ireland's
first "girl group." The three Dublin born girls were all born within
2 years of each other (in fact Dick and Twink share a birthday a
year apart) and were all educated at the St. Louis school. They all
got their starts in "show business at a very young age. Maxi at age
7 at the Gate Theatre, Dick also at the Gate Theatre aged 7 and
Twink at a ballet in the Covent Garden at age 3.
They got their start on the TV
show, Opportunity Knocks and although they didn't win, it set them
on their way to stardom. With their incredible good looks
and three part harmonies, the girls took the scene by storm. They
were especially popular on television (for obvious reasons) and sang
a verity of genres. On an appearance on "Top of the Night" programme
on RTE they sang a selection from the musical "Calamity Jane."
The girls were managed by showband impresario, T.J. Byrne, who was
also managing the Royal at the time.
All three girls sang while Twink
provided the guitar backing. They program was mostly "folksy" and
they enjoyed riding the wave of ballad and folk music which was
sweeping the country in the mid to late 60's, along with artists
like Johnny McEvoy and Danny Doyle.
In June, 1969, they appeared at
the Kilkenny Beer Festival which had featured bands like Emmett
Spiceland in earlier years. A note in Spotlight reported that their
"twenty minute act gave us Don't Let The Rain Come Down,
numbers from Calamity Jane, and ending with Twink's version of
Goodbye (by Mary Hopkins)."
Perhaps the most amazing thing
about the girls and their success at the time was that they were all
still teenagers. In fact, in an interview in the October 10, 1969
issue of Spotlight (they appeared on the cover). Dick, the
baby of the group at age 17 described her hectic schedule, "I study
in the mornings trying to get my Leaving Cert (editor's note -
the Irish equivalent of high school diploma) - and often do some
photo modeling before going on to a night engagement."
By mid 1969, the girls were at the
top[ of their game. They were featured artists (and eventual stars)
of the RTE series, "Steady as She Go-Goes." They performed in London
and across the continent and had sang on many records, but always as
backing singers. They had to turn down an appearance at the
Eurovision Song Contest as backing singers because of previous
In early 1970, the girls were
selected to sing in the Sixth Irish National Song Contest. They sang
the song, Things You Hear About Me, accompanying themselves.
Reports from the night claim that the girl's were favoured and
eventually placed second, getting beaten at the pole by Dana.
Unfortunately for the girls, that was the year Dana took the top
honours and Ireland's first Eurovision victory with All Kinds of
Everything. However, earlier in the year they had appeared on
the Late Late Show with Gay Byrne and their rising star continued to
Out of the contest came the girls'
first record. They released Things You Hear About Me on EMI's
Columbia record label. The record charted at number 17, but only
stayed on the charts for two weeks. By late 1970, all three girls
had finished school and were now professional singers (and models).
In a July, 1970 interview in Spotlight, they discussed the fact that
all had been offered spots with top showbands (and all would
eventually join showbands). However at the time, they stated they
were not interested in "the showband life with its three-hour-long
show every night. They would prefer to stick to cabaret with the odd
twenty minute spot in the dancehalls."
In his "Where It's At" column in
Spotlight in October, 1970, Pat Egan reported the girls had
released their second record, Tangerine, Tangerine, and
announced they were going to America for at least six months to seek
their fortunes there. In actual fact, they were going to the States
with the Dublin group, The Bye Laws. The two groups would join
together and call themselves Toybox.
end of the band was not far away. After only a few months in the
States (and Canada) Pat Egan reported in May, 1971 that the girls
had officially split up. Twink had joined with the Bye-Laws (she was
dating guitarist Jimmy Conway). He also reported that Maxi and Dick
were staying in Canada and joining an unknown (at the time) Canadian Group.
Meanwhile, Twink and Jimmy
eventually left the Byelaws and joined the newly formed Big 8 when
Brendan Bowyer and Tom Dunphy left the Royal Showband in August,
1971. The move was engineered by her former manager, T.J. Byrne, who
was also managing the Big Eight. Twink would stay with the band for less than three years and
soon tired of the dual lifestyle necessitated by spending half the
year in Las Vegas. She would end up forming her own band on her
return in 1974. She also would go on to be one of the most in-demand
session singers of the next decade.
In January, 1972 Shay Healy reported that Maxi and Dick were playing
with Stuart Smith (formerly of the Jim Farley Band) in a Canadian
based outfit called The Smilin' Faces. Stuart was the lead
singer in the band with the two girls providing mostly backing
Stuart and Maxi would return home to Ireland
in March, 1972 and join with Danny Doyle in one of the most unlikely
pairings of the showband era. Folk artist Danny and former folkie
turned pop singer, Maxi, formed an uneasy alliance in the band Music
Box. Although the band met with some success on the ballroom scene,
and lasted for three years, it never quite clicked.
It seems Danny and Maxi
were too far apart when it came to musical tastes. Said Danny in an
Music Box were a great bunch but then again Maxi and myself were
poles apart musically. She was keen on pops and I was always a
country fan." Eventually, it made sense that they should each form
their own band and so in June, 1974, Maxi left to form her own band
which reportedly would be called "Maxi and Company" and in July
1974, Danny and the Music Box played their final gig. An article in
Spotlight announced the formation of his new band, "Country Music
Dick would be the last to return
to Ireland, but she did around May, 1972 and she joined the Royal
Showband (managed , of course, by T.J. Byrne) which were still struggling to find their way after the
loss of superstars Brendan Bowyer and Tom Dunphy a year earlier.
Dick was paired first with Carl Phillips as the male lead vocalist
and within a few months with Derek Mehaffey (formerly of The
Sounds). However, within a year, Dick had left the band and by 1974,
the Royal Showband was no more. She would end up marrying singer
Peter Law (Pacific and Dublin Corporation) and moving to Canada
where she had a successful singing and acting career.
Although these three teenagers did
very well as a group, it is more amazing that all three went on to
front major showbands following their time together and have
continued to entertain audiences for over forty five years since
they first were seen on Opportunity Knocks.
More to come.....
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