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Mighty Avons Feature (1961-1974?)

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

The Story

When the names of the "greatest" or "most popular" showbands are listed, you probably won't see The Mighty Avons named among the likes of the the Miami, Dixies, Royal and Clipper Carlton. However, a feature in the March 15, 1969 issue of Spotlight announced that the "Avons are Nine Years Together Without A Change." Formed at the very start of the showband era, the Mighty Avons, if nothing else, were consistent. To last nearly a decade without a single lineup a change was a major feat in the heady days of showband transitions which saw many of the major bands splintering as the pop vs. country battle raged in the late 60's. 

The band first went on the road as the St. Bridget's Ceili Band, but we are unsure of who was in that original lineup. When they became the Mighty Avons, the original lineup included: Larry Cunningham (vocals), Brian Finlay (drums), Ronnie Griffiths (keyboards/guitar), Gerry Walsh (bass), Mick Brady (guitar) and brothers Jimmy (trombone), Peter (sax) and Paddy (trumpet) Smith. Larry had previously been with the Grafton Showband from Gowna around 1960.

Although the article talked about the longevity of the outfit, 18 months later Larry Cunningham would leave the band. In it's early years, the band was a typical showband playing "all things to all people," but as the split between country and pop bands become the norm in the late sixties, the band chose the "country and Irish" route as Larry was one of the all time best selling artists in this unique genre. 

Larry Cunningham was the star of the band from its inception until his departure in late 1969. The band enjoyed a lot of success with Larry, but he announced his last gig would be on August 31, 1969.  Despite rumours that he was leaving the band to get married, Larry explained in a quote in Spotlight that it was "purely a personal decision for the sake of my health and my business." As he left the band, Larry released a single from his own Ramblin Irishman LP, The Ballad of James Connolly and went on a short tour of England as a "special guest" with the Plainsmen (both artists were managed by Mick Clerkin) before returning to Ireland to form his own band, The Blue Boys, which soon added "country" to their name.   

In September, the Avons announced 24 year old Gene Stuart would take over as the band's new lead singer and his first appearance with them was in Tullamore on Friday, September 19th, 1969. Gene had previously been with the Regents Showband.

In August, 1972 the band announced that Gene Stuart would be leaving the band for an extended rest as he was "run down, and tired." According to Spotlight magazine, it turned out, in the end, he was treated for TB. In his place the band tapped 26 year old Derry man, Brian Harkin, who would later front the Plainsmen after the departure of Dermot Hegarty.

A couple of months later, by November, three more members of the band were gone, Paddy and brother Peter Smith left the band to join the ranks of management, while Ronnie Griffiths left to form his own band, American Pie, which would debut on Christmas Night, 1972 in Claremorris, Co. Mayo. 

By 1974, Larry Cunningham, Ronnie Griffiths, and Gene Stuart had come and gone. In the October 3rd, 1974 issue of Spotlight, Pascal Mooney reported on a series of changes in the band. Martin Geraghty, guitar player with the band for two years was the featured singer on the band's newest single. Gene Stuart, Gerry Walsh (bass), John McCaffrey (keyboards), and Brian McCormick (trumpet) left to form the Homesteaders. To fill the void, the Avons drafted Brendan Quinn and Hugh McLean. In October, 1974, Brian Finlay also left the band to concentrate on business interests. The new Homesteaders were due to hit the road at Christmas. The lineup included Brendan Quinn (vocals), Hugh McLean (guitar), Martin Geraghty (bass), R.J. Catterson (drums), Seamus Costello (accordion/keys), John Bates (trumpet) and Eddie White (sax).

    

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Gene Stuart & The Mighty Avons - 1973 Mighty Avons (DL)

Gene Stuart and the Mighty Avons (KS)

Gene Stuart and the Mighty Avons (KS)

Mighty Avons - 1974 (LR)
Mighty Avons - 1966 (LR) The Mighty Avons Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons (BS) Mighty Avons (PB) Mighty Avons (LR)
Gene Stuart Early Gene Stuart (DD)

Gene Stuart (KS)

Gene Stuart (KS)

Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons
Gene Stuart & The Mighty Avons Mighty Avons (BF) Gene Stuart & The Mighty Avons (BW) Mighty Avons (PH) Mighty Avons - 1971
Mighty Avons - 1971 Gene Stuart (KS) Gene Stuart (KS) Mighty Avons (KS) Gene Stuart (KS)
Gene Stuart (KS) Mighty Avons (KS) Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons-1967 In The Studio - 1970 Mighty Avons
Mighty Avons-1971 Larry Cunningham of the Mighty Avons Ronnie Griffiths-1967 Donal O'Dowda-1967 Big Tom & Larry 1969
Big Tom & Larry 1969 Larry Cunningham- 1967 Larry - 1969

Mighty Avons

Mighty Avons-1969
In The Studio - 1970 Mighty Avons-1970 Mighty Avons-1969 In The Studio - 1970 Mighty Avons-1969
Mighty Avons-1969 In The Studio - 1970 Mighty Avons-1969 On Stage - 1969 Mighty Avons (BD)
Mighty Avons (PL) Mighty Avons (PL) Mighty Avons (PL) Mighty Avons (PL) Mighty Avons (PL)
         
Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

Lineup Changes (Coming soon)
 

Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Sax/Guitar Trumpet Trombone
1961 Larry
Cunningham
Mickey
Brady
Gerry
Walsh
Brian
Finlay
Ronnie
Griffiths
Peter
Smith
Paddy
Smith
Jimmy
Smith
Sept
1970
Gene
Stuart
Mickey
Brady
Gerry
Walsh
Brian
Finlay
Ronnie
Griffiths
Peter
Smith
Paddy
Smith
Jimmy
Smith
Aug.
1972
Brian
Harkin
Mickey
Brady
Gerry
Walsh
Brian
Finlay
Ronnie
Griffiths
Peter
Smith
Paddy
Smith
Jimmy
Smith
Nov.
1972
Brian
Harkin
Mickey
Brady
Gerry
Walsh
Brian
Finlay
John
McCafferty
Martin
Geraghty
Brian
McCormack
Jimmy
Smith
Jan.
1973
Gene
Stuart
Mickey
Brady
Gerry
Walsh
Brian
Finlay
John
McCafferty
Martin
Geraghty
Brian
McCormack
Jimmy
Smith
Sept.
1974
Brendan
Quinn
Hugh
McLean
Martin
Geraghty
R.J.
Catterson
Seamus
Costello
Eddie
White (Sax)
John
Bates
 
May
1975
Brendan
Quinn
Hugh
McLean
Frank
O'Neill
R.J.
Catterson
Seamus
Costello
Eddie
White (Sax)
John
Bates
 
                 
                 
                 
                 

Discography

Singles:

Tribute to Jim Reeves / Take My hand Precious Lord (Larry Cunningham) - #9 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1016 - January, 1965
I Guess I'm Crazy / Don't Make Me Go (Larry Cunningham)
- #4 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1020 - April, 1965
Lovely Leitrim / There's That Smile Again (Larry Cunningham)
- #1 Irish Charts
King Records - KG.1030 - September, 1965
Among The Wicklow Hills / The World You Left Behind (Larry Cunningham)
- #2 Irish Charts  
King Records - KG.1034 - April, 1966
Snowflake / The Wild Rapparee (Larry Cunningham)
- #2 Irish Charts  
King Records - KG.1046 - November, 1966
Fool's Paradise (Larry Cunningham)
- #5 Irish Charts  
King Records - Unknown - February, 1967
In The Misty Moonlight /  (Larry Cunningham)
King Records - KG.1053 - May, 1967?
Three Steps To The Phone / Cottage On The Borderline (Larry Cunningham)  
- #8 Irish Charts  
King Records - KG.1061 - July, 1967
Little Nell / I Dreamed About Mom Last Night (Larry Cunningham)
King Records - KG.1070 - December, 1967
The Emigrant / The Fugitive (Larry Cunningham)
- #10 Irish Charts  
King Records - KG.1073 - March, 1968
The Great El Tigre / Gweebarra Bay (Larry Cunningham)
- #17 Irish Charts  
Release Records - RL.505 - November, 1968
Bracero / The Honkeytonk Downstairs (Larry Cunningham)
Release Records - RL.512 - May, 1969
Ireland's 32 / Jody and the Kid (Brian Finlay)
Dolphin Records - DOS.44 - August, 1969
Before The Next Teardrop Falls / Come On Home and Sing The Blues To Daddy (Gene Stuart)
- #3 Irish Charts  
Dolphin Records - DOS.53 - December, 1969
I'm Just Lucky I Guess / Then I'll Stop Loving You (Gene Stuart)
- #5 Irish Charts  
Dolphin Records - DOS.67 - January, 1970
I'd Rather Love and Lose You / I Wish I Had A Nickel (Gene Stuart)
- #11 Irish Charts  
Velvet Records - Unknown - March, 1971
Don't Go /  (Gene Stuart)
- #9 Irish Charts  
Velvet Records - Unknown - July, 1971
Kiss An Angel Good Morning /  (Gene Stuart)
- #6 Irish Charts  
Velvet Records - Unknown - March, 1972
Ballad of a Hillbilly / The Ring On Your Finger (Jimmy Smith)
Velvet Records? - Unknown - November, 1972
To See An Angel Cry / Poppa's Wagon (Gene Stuart)
- #20 Irish Charts  
Velvet Records - Unknown - January, 1973
One Day At A Time / How To Talk To A Baby (Gene Stuart)
Velvet Records - VE.033 - August, 1973
Christmas In My Hometown / (Gene Stuart) 
- #2 Irish Charts  
Hawk Records - Unknown - December, 1973
My Only Fascination / Times May Come (Martin Geraghty)
Hawk Records - Unknown - September, 1974

White Christmas (Bill Quinn, Hugh McLean, Martin Geraghty)
Hawk Records - HASM.2003 - December, 1974

Albums:

Two Sides of Larry
King Records - KGL.4000 - 1966
Sings Country and Irish (Larry Cunningham)
King Records - KGL.4007 - December, 1967
Ramblin' Irishman (Larry Cunningham)
Release Records - RL.1001 - June, 1969
Introducing Gene and the Mighty Avons (Gene Stuart)
Dolphin Records? - Unknown - October 1970

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?

Larry Cunningham - RIP: After nearly a decade, he formed his own band, the Country Blue Boys. After scores of hits singles and record breaking live performances, he got married in 1972 and gave up the grind of the ballroom circuit to focus on concerts and cabaret. He continued to be a favourite performer until his sad passing. Larry's life was the subject of a great book a couple of years ago by Tom Gilmore called Larry Cunningham, a Showband Legend. The quiet man from Granard was one of the true legends of the era and will be missed by his family, friends and fans around the world. He sadly passed away 28th September, 2012 aged 74.
Mickey Brady: If you can help us please send an email.
Gerry Walsh - RIP:  Sadly passed away
Brian Finlay - RIP: Sadly passed away
Paddy Smith - RIP: Sadly passed away
Ronnie Griffiths:  If you can help us please send an email.
Donal O'Dowda: (replaced Ronnie for six weeks in 1967)
Peter Smith:  If you can help us please send an email.
Jimmy Smith:  If you can help us please send an email.
Gene Stuart - RIP:  After a very successful stint with the Mighty Avons, Gene left to form his own band, The
Homesteaders. His success continued with his own band which became one of the top draws on the country
circuit throughout the late seventies and into the 1980;s. For the last 40 years, Gene remained one of Ireland's best
loved country singers. Sadly, Gene lost a long battle with cancer on the 11th of February, 2016 and passed awsay
at the age of 72.
Brendan Quinn: Still performing today for audiences across Ireland. If you can help us please send an email.
Brian Harkin - RIP: Sadly passed away
John McCafferty:  If you can help us please send an email.
Martin Geraghty - RIP:   Sadly passed away
Brian McCormick:  If you can help us please send an email.
Hugh McLean:  If you can help us please send an email.

 

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